Managing Period Cravings
Leading up to your period and during your cycle, it is common to have some pretty intense cravings. Do you have visions of chocolate bars running through your head? It can get really frustrating when you nail your nutrition for two weeks of the month then feel like you can’t control eating like an @sshole the other two weeks.
First let’s talk about WHY this may be happening.
One belief is low progesterone and high estrogen levels cause a drop in blood sugar levels, leading to your intense sugar cravings. Then you reach for your sugary treat to raise blood sugar levels, only causing it to drop quickly after…leading to a rollercoaster of emotions and cravings.
Another may be cause by your serotonin (happy hormone) levels. This hormone tends to be lower during PMS. When serotonin is low, we CRAVE SUGAR and other salty snacks like chips. Fun Fact: we need CARBS to make serotonin.
What can I do about my cravings?
The first place to look is at your overall nutrition. Are you eating enough? If you are in an excessively low calorie (and carbohydrate) deficit, expect your cravings to be even worse. The good news is that your period is predictable (or at least it should be) and you can plan for cravings. Try increasing your overall calories (carbohydrates) around your period. Including more whole foods may be enough to keep you from reaching for the M&Ms.
Another strategy is to eat more meals throughout the day. Simply to help keep you full throughout the day. When we get hungry, angry, lonely or tired is when we are more likely to reach for the chocolate. So keep yourself full throughout the day.
Eat enough fibre! Eating complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre can help you to feel full and satisfied. Making sure you eat adequate amounts of fibre (min. 25 g) will also help to manage your estrogen levels by clearing it with bowel movements. You already have elevated estrogen levels, if it stays around (meaning not excreted), your body will reabsorb it. Eat plenty of berries, sweet potato, chia seeds, avocado, etc.
Eat enough protein. Many females I work with aren’t getting in adequate amounts of protein. Protein can help you stay full and satisfied longer.
Consider supplementing with magnesium. A lot of females are deficient in magnesium (which can also lead to weight loss issues) and your magnesium levels tend to drop around your period. Supplementing with magnesium can also help aid in better sleep and recovery.
Learn to quiet your mind. Practicing meditative-type activities will help to quiet your mind when they are telling you to EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE. Try the free trial of apps like Headspace or Calm to practice learning to quiet your mind. It will TAKE TIME and PRACTICE. If meditation isn’t your thing, find something else like colouring, journaling, etc.
Plan a treat. Here’s the deal though, you are working in one thing that is WORTH IT to YOU. Maybe it is chocolate or a big bowl of popcorn. The other part of the deal is that you have to eat well BEFORE you get to have it. Most people’s “willpower” is gone by the time the evening rolls around, so plan to have your treat then. BUT you have to have a good dinner that has lean protein, veggies, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates FIRST. Then ask yourself if you really want your treat still. If you do, eat it. If you are full, don’t eat it.