Fight Food Cravings During Your Period

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Posted by Sarah Parkhurst on April 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

Once a month, my appetite feels kind of like Lindsay Lohan’s ability to get in trouble—you just can’t stop it. And I'm not kidding: during those few days, if a food is not nailed to the table or superglued shut, I will probably eat it. Any chance you're like that, too?

Research shows that many of our cravings for chocolate and carbohydrate-rich foods are particularly intense in the days leading up to our period. Experts theorize that women may engage in emotional overeating of carbs in an attempt to raise serotonin levels to counter the bad moods and mild depression related to PMS.

Also, we actually need more calories premenstrually, so it would make sense we might experience more cravings if we're short on energy. Although there have been a number of studies examining cravings and the menstrual cycle, scientists still don't know exactly why some women seem to engage in emotional overeating or crave carbs, chocolate and other sugary foods before their periods.

Obviously, everyone's menstrual cycle is different. Some of us have serious cravings during PMS; others experience them during our actual periods; and others have no cravings at all, ever. And, of course, we crave things that are as different as crackers and cake. Hormones are strange little creatures.

But there are a few tricks to smoothing out the process and keep the period cravings in check:

1: According to one study, the chocolate cravings really are a thing. In order to level out your blood sugar -- and your cravings for cocoa -- eat fiber-rich, whole grain breads and cereals.

2: Eat some high-quality fats with your meals, like natural nut butters and olive oil. They're heart-healthy, but also very filling -- and that will help keep cravings at bay.

3: Research has shown that women dealing with PMS may experience low levels of calcium, which could increase cravings for foods that contain it -- like, say, ice cream. Eat some yogurt, broccoli, or kale to help keep your calcium up.

4: Indulge a little bit and have some of what you're craving! Seriously, telling yourself a cookie is "off limits" when you're crampy and grumpy--well, that'll certainly make you feel more irritable than you already are.

How do you deal with period-related food cravings? What kinds of food do you crave: ice cream, cookies, crackers, popcorn...? (I'm a chocolate chip cookie kind of craver, myself!)


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