Period cravings are a real thing, and if you’ve ever given into those cravings, you know that gorging on chips, pizza and chocolate only makes things worse. You feel sluggish, tired and bloated and while satisfying your cravings may feel good in the moment, it’s only a matter of time until the serotonin hit wears off. Luckily, there are things you can do to feel better during that time of the month and curb PMS symptoms. Take a look at how to cope with period cravings and create a healthier mindset around the foods you consume.
What Causes Period Cravings?
Intense food cravings are typical in the week or two leading up to your period. Food cravings are a symptom of PMS and are thought to be caused by fluctuating hormones and serotonin levels. Hormone changes can cause a drop in blood sugar levels, which leads to sugar cravings, and fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause cravings for high carb and sweet foods.
As for serotonin, your body releases this hormone when you eat starchy foods and sweets. Since serotonin is one of the happy hormones, it makes you feel good to eat these foods when you’re experiencing other PMS symptoms. However, the serotonin hit only lasts so long until you start to feel the sugar and carb crash. If you want to get a handle on your period cravings, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Cope with Period Cravings
1. Eat Complex Carbs
If you crave carbs, try to stay away from simple carbs like chips, and white bread and pasta. They may make you feel good in the moment because of the boost in serotonin, but that can quickly turn to feelings of sluggishness and bloat. Complex carbs, on the other hand, increase your serotonin and make you feel better and fuller for longer. These include foods like beans and lentils, oats, brown rice and whole grain bread.
2. Boost Your Magnesium
If you’re craving chocolate, your magnesium levels may be low. Instead of binging on chocolate, which is also high in fat, opt for leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as cashews, almonds, peanut butter, seeds and whole grains. If you really want to satisfy your chocolate craving, make sure it’s high quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. It’s high in antioxidants and minerals and just a square or two can often curb your cravings.
3. Get Outside
Too little sunlight can lower your serotonin levels as well as your mood. This can also result in increased appetite and cravings. Even in the winter, try to get out into the sun everyday to boost your mood and help keep your cravings in check. Just remember to wear SPF!
Cravings often come with other PMS symptoms such as mood swings, sadness and irritability. One of the best ways to combat this and feel less “blah” is to boost your happiness hormones, including your endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood and energy levels, and in turn can help curb your period cravings. Make sure to check out our post on cycle synching workouts to learn the best workouts for each phase of your menstrual cycle.
5. Drink More Water
The benefits of drinking water are endless, and it can also help with your cravings. Proper water intake flushes your system of toxins and helps you feel more full, curbing your cravings and appetite. Drinking water during PMS and your period can also help lessen other symptoms such as headache, fatigue, bloating, constipation and cramps.
6. Find Healthy Alternatives for Your Cravings
We already talked about switching out complex carbs for simple carbs, but there are other alternatives you can make as well. If you have a sweet tooth, steer clear of the bag of Sour Patch kids or cookies and reach for fruit, berries, trail mix, energy bites or apple slices with honey or peanut butter. If you’re craving pizza, try making a homemade pizza on a cauliflower crust. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta that’s low in calories and carbs and high in vitamins and nutrients. Use it in place of pasta in your favourite pasta dishes!
7. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
To keep your blood sugar levels balanced and your food cravings in line, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. So, instead of three big meals, eat five or six smaller ones. When you eat more frequently, you have less time between meals. When you have longer breaks between meals, you’re more likely to get cravings. You can also try eating three bigger meals and a few healthy snacks throughout the day to help with this.
8. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Try to avoid alcohol as much as you can before and during your period. Consuming it before your period reduces your vitamin B, the nutrient that helps the body deal with PMS symptoms. Alcohol also disrupts your metabolism and creates more period cravings.
When you’ve had a few drinks, you’re also more likely to give into your cravings for bad-for-you foods, which can make you feel even worse. Plus, it can make you feel even more depressed and down. Overall, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake as much as possible.
9. Treat Yourself, But Stay in Control
PMS munchies are totally normal and sometimes the best thing to do is to eat what you’re craving- you just have to make sure you keep it within reason. There’s no shame in enjoying a little treat once in a while. Practicing portion control can help you stave off cravings without feeling crappy afterwards. Too many chips, candies or scoops of ice cream can have you feeling sluggish, nauseous and bloated, but occasionally enjoying them in small portions may be just what you need.
If you’ve been having a hard time dealing with period cravings, we hope these tips help you feel better during that time of the month.
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