Your period is the time when your hormones go haywire. Both female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have a profound effect on everything in your body – from bones, reproductive system, skin and eyes to your digestive system, brain, hair, immune system and other hormone systems. Many health experts believe period cravings occur due to the hormonal fluctuations that your body is put through during this time.
The Hunger Games
Remember, when you ovulate, which is about 12 to 14 days before your period starts, your body starts preparing for a possible pregnancy. So you start experiencing cravings before your period begins. The body wants to make sure that it is well-stocked. The peaking hormones trigger a hunger response where your brain commands you to eat that piece of cake loaded with carbs and sugar.
The Metabolism Spanner
Also, the basal metabolic rate of your body increases just before and during the early half of your period as a way to cope with menstruation. As a result, your body burns more calories than normal, causing you to feel hungrier.
This is primarily an evolutionary response to propagate the human race. If the body doesn’t get the nutrients it requires to ensure a healthy and full-term pregnancy, the human race will come to an end. So in short, “eat that packet of Doritos or we all will die” is your body’s way of freaking out right before and during your period. And that, ladies, is how you end up scarfing down three packets of chips, a muffin and a small bag of roasted peanuts at that time of the month.
The Chocolate Conundrum
Can’t keep your thoughts off chocolate? You’re not alone! There are dozens of women who crave chocolate during the premenstrual stage of their cycle. It has been observed that this craving occurs when estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest and not when levels are changing. As strange as it may sound, a majority of women stop craving chocolate the moment their period begins.
Want to stop dreaming of chocolate? Start praying to the lords for your period.
The Hormone Connection
It is prudent to remember that your brain releases serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that boosts feelings of contentment. Certain foods such as chocolate, ice cream and potato chips, and exercise and other lifestyle habits can trigger the release of serotonin.
If you are stressed about your period, the levels of your stress hormone will be high while serotonin levels will be low. Under such circumstances, your body will crave fats and simple carbs like candy and chocolates. When you eat simple carbs and fats, the serotonin level in your body increases and you will feel more relaxed and happy. Typically, serotonin levels hit a low just before your period begins. On the other hand, if your serotonin levels are normal but your cortisol level is high, you will still crave fats and carbs but not sugary treats. You may get the urge to eat peanut butter, croissants and bagels.
Now you know why you suffer from cravings during your period. You can easily adjust your eating habits to take care of your cravings and yet maintain a healthy diet.