From acne, mood swings, and sore breasts to bloating and excruciating stomach cramps–there’s so much a woman has to deal with on her period. But, something seems amiss in this list of problems, doesn’t it?
No points for guessing, we’re talking about period hunger pangs and food cravings that might be a quintessential part of your monthly turbulence.
Wondering why they happen to begin with? Well, here are five things you’ve got to know about those ravenous cravings you experience while on your period:
1. It’s not you, it’s your hormones
Dropping oestrogen and rising progesterone before your periods can make you feel hungry according to Dr Anu Vij, obstetrician and gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar, Mumbai.
This happens because these changes lead to a decrease in the production of the appetite-suppressing hormone, leptin, and an increase in the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
2. Stress could have a part to in period hunger as well
The same dip in oestrogen that makes you feel hungrier than you usually do can also make you feel a lot less energetic. Needless to say, eating foods rich in sugar can make you feel better almost instantly–which is also probably why you feel like eating more before or during your period.
“Premenstrual food cravings might be a form of food psychotherapy for women. The increased carbs result in increase in serotonin level, which may help women cope with the low feeling felt before their periods,” points out Dr Madhu Goel, associate director, obstetrics and gynecology department, Fortis La Femme, Greater Kailash, Delhi.
3. Serious underlying causes could be to blame too
According to Dr Vij the following underlying causes could be responsible for your overindulgence too:
Binge Eating Disorder: Overeating occasionally is not a matter of concern. But, doing so on a regular basis may indicate that you could be suffering from the binge eating disorder.
“In this case one keeps on binge eating even after their periods get over and that is a sign indicating that the person requires timely medical treatment,” she warns.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): This can be described as a condition, wherein women get several depression symptoms, feel irritable and get tense before menstruation starts. It might sound like PMS, but is actually more severe.
Other health conditions: Depression, anxiety, obesity, and type-2 diabetes could also be the reasons for your increased appetite. In this case, proper diagnosis and treatment is required.
4. Giving in to period hunger can be terrible for your health
“Pre-period food cravings can prove hazardous to a women’s health if she keeps binging on salty and sweet food items continuously. It may lead to sudden weight gain and aggravate PMS too,” warns Dr Suruchi Desai, consultant gynecologist and obstetrician, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai.
5. You can fight off the cravings smartly
In the battle between your health and your unhealthy food cravings, you can still win, despite your periods trying to pull you back. Here’s how:
*Make healthy choices by opting for complex carbohydrates from food sources like beans, lentils, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice and oats. Also, avoid refined carbs from those doughnuts, candies, and chocolates as they can make you crave for more and lead to weight gain.
*Maintain a journal of your eating habits during your period so as to keep a track of how many extra calories you’re consuming
*Exercise instead of relying on food to make you feel happy, as it can help release happy hormones like endorphins and serotonin.
*Stay hydrated and drink at least three litres of water everyday, as it can help to decrease the hunger pangs.