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Do you crave chocolate treats, baked goods, or salty snacks as Aunt Flo knocks on your vagina? These food cravings while on period are common but make us guilt-ridden. But have you ever wondered why you feel peckish as you PMS?
Well, there is a strong connection between your menstrual cycle and hunger.
A study published in 2016 by The FASEB Journal suggests that during the menstrual cycle, your level of estrogen and progesterone hormones changes and this can lead to food cravings for carbs and sugar before and during the period. Apart from this, serotonin, a chemical that boosts feelings of happiness, is responsible for craving certain foods during the menstrual cycle. Most women experience a drop in serotonin level, which triggers cravings for carbs. And your body uses carbs to make serotonin.
To elaborate further on why you feel the constant urge to eat something, HealthShots spoke to Dr Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai.
“A majority of women experience certain food cravings one week prior to their periods. A woman tends to experience a wide range of physical and emotional changes in the days leading up to her menstrual period. These changes are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Food cravings are seen due to fluctuating hormones and serotonin levels during periods. Cravings are one of the symptoms of PMSing”, says Dr Thamke.
Sugar cravings are very common among menstruating women. Do you know why this happens? Well, because your hormones change during this time and this can lead to dropping in blood sugar levels, which invites sugar cravings. Craving for something sweet when on periods simply means your body needs a little insulin right now. So bring on carbs but be mindful about the consumption.
Moreover, Dr Thamke says, serotonin levels in your brain also tend to drop as you menstruate. When that happens, one will crave sugar and carbohydrates (like potato chips) because the body uses carbs to make serotonin.
Chocolate cravings are generally linked with low levels of magnesium. They simply denote the deficiency of magnesium in your body. However, chocolate is not a good source of consuming magnesium because it is also high in fat. Try to switch to green leafy vegetables, seeds and whole grains to fulfill your magnesium needs. Besides this, if you really want to eat chocolate, stick to dark chocolate only. It is high in antioxidants and minerals and will suppress that sugar fix.
Moreover, changes in levels of hormones estrogen and progesterone cause cravings for high-carb and sweet foods before the period.
After sugar, salt is another worst thing you can eat right before and during your period. These cravings may arise due to hormonal fluctuations during periods. One may have an urge to eat chips and processed salt laden snacks. But don’t turn to these because a high salt diet can lead to bloating and blood pressure problems. If you’re craving for salty foods it means that you’re dehydrated and have sodium deficiency. Make a detox water to hydrate yourself instead.
1. Try to eat complex carbohydrates like beans, lentils, and cereals (not simple carbs that you are likely to crave for bread or pasta)
2. Eating foods rich in calcium can be a good idea.
3. Cut down on fat, salt, and sugar.
4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol while you are on your period.
5. To up your magnesium intake, you can eat green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, almonds, seeds, and whole grains.
6. Try to manage sugar cravings by opting for a smoothie or a trail mix
So the next time you find you’re craving such foods, switch to eating something healthy rather than grabbing that bag of chips!