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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
Add calcium-rich foods like yogurt, leafy green vegetables, etc, as this will help you control your hunger and be healthy.
Reduce fats, salt, and processed sugars. Intake of sugar causes insulin spikes which then reduce the blood sugar level.
Try to stay away from things which have caffeine such as coffee and alcohol.
Eat 6 small meals versus 3 large ones or 3 small meals plus 3 light snacks to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Drinking plenty of water also helps to curb water retention.
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.
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.