Reaching for way more chocolate candies, salty chips, greasy burgers, or other fats and carbs than usual? If you’ve noticed that you struggle with cravings more often when your period is on the way, it’s not just in your imagination!
Though scientists have been researching cravings for several decades, a recent study offers a conclusive link between food cravings and the menstrual cycle. The results are in: when it’s that time of the month, our bodies want nothing more than sweets, fats, and carbs!
But what are period cravings, and why does it feel so good to indulge them? Here’s a quick guide to these frequent hunger pangs.
What Are Cravings?
Let’s go over a quick craving definition. Food cravings are a form of selective hunger. Researchers consider this type of hunger to be separate from our usual survival-based hunger.
Often, we’ll experience a strong desire for specific foods, which tend to be our favorite comfort foods. These desires can feel intense or uncontrollable, and some people even report feeling distracted until they’ve had a chance to satisfy their hunger.
Over 90% of all adults experience some kind of cravings from time to time, but people who have periods are more likely to experience it right before or after their periods. During this time, it’s not uncommon to reach for carbs, fats, and sweets. It should come as no surprise that one of the most common cravings involves chocolate, which includes all three of the above!
Why Do I Get Period Cravings?
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes hunger pangs, but there are a few theories.
Most likely, it’s all in your head! Cravings, like all of the other changes associated with your period, probably happen because of a common culprit: hormones.
During the second half of your menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuations affect the neurotransmitters in your brain. During the luteal phase of menstruation, your progesterone levels are high while your estrogen levels are low. It’s at this point that we experience more intense cravings, especially for carbs.
As we eat those carbs, the brain releases serotonin. Nicknamed “the happy hormone,” this chemical boosts our sense of well-being.
This added comfort reinforces our decision to eat more in the first place, resulting in an endless cycle of cravings and rewards. In theory, it’s also a form of therapy: when we give in to our cravings, we’re self-medicating in order to feel better. This can be crucial when we’re also dealing with other frustrating PMS symptoms like cramps and mood swings!
While cravings are common before a menstrual cycle, they’re even more common in people who have PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. If you notice frequent or intense binge eating right before your period, it may be a sign that you experience the stronger form of PMS.
When Should I Expect Period Cravings?
Because cravings are a symptom of PMS, most people will notice sudden cravings around the same time their other period symptoms show up. You might notice that you get them on the same day that you begin experiencing bloating, cramps, and acne, for example.
In general, these symptoms will start between one and two weeks before the onset of your period. Most people find that their cravings stop as soon as their period has begun, though this isn’t true for everyone.
How Do I Deal With Period Cravings?
First things first: it’s completely fine to indulge yourself! Period cravings don’t tend to rack up too many calories over the course of a month, so they won’t often make or break a diet. In other words, there’s no need to beat yourself up if you’re reaching for more carbs than usual.
However, if the food you’re eating makes you feel worse, there are a few ways to deal with your period cravings.
Reach for Healthier Carbs
Complex carbs like whole grain bread and cereals are way better for your body than fat- and sugar-laden alternatives. They also help you feel full for longer. Better yet, these fiber-rich carbs can even help stabilize your blood sugar and mood swings.
Get More Magnesium
Did you know that chocolate cravings can sometimes be a sign of a dietary imbalance?
These cravings can sometimes happen when we’re low on magnesium. Magnesium can also help prevent period pain and other annoying symptoms that make us reach for our favorite comfort foods, which is why our formula for Mamma Chick includes magnesium.
Stick to Regular Meals
It can be tempting to skip meals in preparation for cravings. However, skipping your regular meals can result in overindulging during future ones. If anything, it’s often a smarter choice to eat more small meals during the day, staying full all the while, instead of giving your appetite time to grow.
Get More Exercise
Because we sometimes feed our cravings to treat the symptoms of PMS, it’s a good idea to look for another outlet. Physical activity may not do much to stabilize your hormones, but it can help raise your serotonin levels, boosting your mood and decreasing your stress. It can also relieve the pain of period cramps.
Indulge a Little
Research suggests that a tiny bit of indulging can help reduce the urge to turn cravings into a binge-eating session later. Heavy food restrictions make us more likely to overeat in the future, so try having a small bit of something you love instead of cutting it from your diet completely.
Fight Cravings With Mamma Chick
Still struggling with intense period cravings? If you haven’t had luck with the tips above, it might be time to try a different solution for those hunger pangs. In addition to reducing bloating and cramps, Mamma Chick may help to ease your period cravings!
The seven simple ingredients in our formula work to regulate the neurotransmitters in your brain. This, in turn, gives your body a chance to recalibrate your system. It can also help ease the stress and pain we sometimes try to “self-medicate” with our favorite comfort foods.
If you’re ready to get relief from the side effects of PMS, shop our formula now!