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Does PMS make you hungry? Tips to control those hunger pangs!

PMS makes you hungry, besides making you emotional and irritable. Here is how you can minimise these symptoms.
A woman experiencing period pain
Ovulation bleeding differs from periods in the amount of bleeding and pain associated with it. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 19 Nov 2023, 09:32 pm IST
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As if being highly emotional and irritated is not enough, many women find themselves hogging a few days before their period. Well, this is just one of the many ways that Premenstrual Syndrome, more commonly known as PMS, impacts your body> Yes, PMS makes you hungry!

If you are wondering how does PMS make you hungry and what you can do to stop this, we have the answer right here for you.

What is PMS and why does it happen?

It is safe to say that your PMS is something that not only you, but even those around you, hope you pass in peace. Mood swings, irritation, emotional behaviour are common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. “Many women undergo physical or mood changes in the days leading up to menstruation. When these symptoms happen month after month and they disturb a woman’s normal life it is called ‘Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)’,” explains gynaecologist Dr Suman Singh of BirthRight by Rainbow Children’s Hospital.

But if you are wondering why PMS happens, there is a rather interesting reason behind it. “Women undergo a lot of hormonal variations in their body post ovulation in anticipation of a possible pregnancy which are largely responsible for these symptoms of PMS. PMS typically happens in the 5 days preceding a period and disappears around 4 days after the period for at least 3 consecutive cycles to be diagnosed as such. Most often seen between 20 to 30 years of age,” says Dr Singh.

A woman eating a dessert
Healthy eating and balanced meals can help with cravings during PMS. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Besides hunger, there are many other symptoms of PMS. “Other common symptoms of PMS include mood swings, irritability, fatigue, breast tenderness, bloating, and sometimes headaches. The severity and the duration of these symptoms differ for each individual.,” says gynaecologist Dr Kavitha Kovi of Aster Women and Children Hospital.

Why does PMS make you hungry?

Sugar and carbohydrate-cravings are the key to solving this puzzle. “Around the time of the ovulation, there is a peak in the estrogen hormone followed by a rise in the progesterone hormone post ovulation which is responsible for the carbohydrate and sugar cravings. Sugar and starch cause the body to release serotonin, a chemical that increases the feeling of happiness. Indulging in excessive eating before the onset of your menstrual cycle might indicate the presence of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD),” says Dr Singh.

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Also read: Do you get PMS food cravings? Here’s how to deal with it

It turns out, serotonin plays a pretty big role in both mood swings and those sudden food cravings. “If you are craving carbs, your body may be trying to self-medicate by restoring the serotonin levels which naturally dip in the post-ovulatory phase. Also, around this time, the BMR increases which also contributes to the feeling of hunger,” says Dr Singh.

What can you eat for PMS hunger?

1. Eat a carb-rich diet

Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates. Foods with whole grains such as whole wheat bread, pasta, cereals, oats, barley, brown rice, beans and lentils.

2. Include calcium-rich foods

Add calcium-rich foods like yogurt, leafy green vegetables, etc, as this will help you control your hunger and be healthy.

A woman eating junk food
Stay away from processed and junk food when you are on your period, or days before that. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Stay away from processed foods

Reduce fats, salt, and processed sugars. Intake of sugar causes insulin spikes which then reduce the blood sugar level.

4. No caffeine

Try to stay away from things which have caffeine such as coffee and alcohol.

5. Eat small meals

Eat 6 small meals versus 3 large ones or 3 small meals plus 3 light snacks to keep blood sugar levels stable.

6. Hydrate well

Drinking plenty of water also helps to curb water retention.

How can you stop feeling hungry during PMS?

If you are wondering if there is a way to curb this hunger, we got you! “To control hunger during PMS, try to have more balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. Including a diet that is rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats to keep you feeling satisfied. Staying hydrated is also important, as thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger,” explains Dr Kovi.

Can you avoid PMS totally?

That might be a bit difficult! But Dr Kovi has ways to control it. One of the ways to do this through yoga. “While it’s challenging to avoid PMS entirely, adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management can help alleviate symptoms. Some women find relief through hormonal birth control or other medical interventions, but individual responses vary,” she says.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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