March 13 at 4:39 PM • Comments: 19 • Views: 87129

Why Do I Have Cravings During PMS?

From HelloLife
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Turns out those weird PMS-induced food cravings make perfectly logical sense when we consider the effect our fluctuating hormones have on our brain chemistry. Those food cravings are often a result of out of control hormones, which in turn affect our cravings, and even the type of food we crave.

The Menstrual Cycle

Without getting too scientific here, we'll go over some basic period-related body changes. The menstrual cycle is typically 28 days, although each woman's body is different. It starts on the first day of your period, and ends the day before your next period starts.

As estrogen levels increase, it causes the uterine lining, or endometrium, to build up. The ovary releases an egg and is followed by an increase in progesterone levels. This works with the estrogen to keep the endometrium thick enough to support the egg, should it be fertilized.

If the egg is not fertilized, levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, causing the endometrium to break down and be flushed from the body. This is your period.

PMS Cravings

It is estimated approximately 85% of all menstruating women experience at least one symptom of PMS, while 70% experience PMS related bloating, food cravings, irritability and mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Premenstrual syndrome symptoms usually include a range of behavioral, emotional and physical conditions including bloating or water retention, breast tenderness, weight gain, irritability and mood swings . Many women experience a few of these symptoms; some find them more severe than others.

Types of PMS Food Cravings

Many women experience strong food cravings at some point during their cycles. These cravings, along with other PMS symptoms like bloating can make it very difficult for a woman to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. But it turns out the foods we crave are often a direct result of our hormone fluctuations. Some women typically crave sweet foods with some fat, like ice cream or chocolate. Others find they crave salty things.

PMS Cravings and Hormones

We have our hormones to blame for those crazy PMS symptoms. As estrogen levels fluctuate, so do levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The body wants to keep these levels even, so it turns on the fight or flight response, causing us, the innocent bystanders of this whole thing, to crave carbohydrates and fat. Bring on the ice cream and potato chips. But there's another culprit here; serotonin.

Serotonin is that brain chemical that increases feelings of contentment. Foods can trigger serotonin, as can exercise and other lifestyle factors. If cortisol, the stress hormone is high, and serotonin is low, we'll crave simple carbohydrates and fats, usually sugary treats like candy and chocolate. This is because these simple carbs will up our serotonin fast. If cortisol is elevated, but serotonin is normal, we'll crave carbs and fat, but not necessarily that sugary treat. You may find you crave croissants or bagels loaded with peanut butter or cream cheese.

Now that those cravings make sense, we can adjust our eating habits to curb the craving without completely destroying out healthy diet plans. Focus on eating whole grain complex carbs with a low fat product. So if you crave that bagel and cream cheese, choose wisely.

Remember too, that exercise boosts serotonin; even if you don't feel like it, try taking a brisk 15 minute walk, and see if that helps.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is-pms-sabotaging-your-diet

http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/normal-menstrual-cycle-normal-menstrual-cycle

From HelloLife
  • Safely starts relieving PMS symptoms such as cramps, bloating, nausea, exhaustion, food cravings and mood swings
  • Provides safe, non-hormonal relief without the negative side effects commonly associated with other PMS symptom relief medications

Learn more about Premensa ▶

19 Comments

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I had no idea why every month right before my period I would get the crazy craving for potato chips dipped in ketchup. I guess this would make sense. Thanks for the tips on how to defeat these crazy, fattening cravings associated with PMS. Commented on HelloLife · April 14, 2009 at 3:34 PM

  • Smarty Smarty

    Glad we could help Sophie. Hope you enjoyed reading this article, you might also enjoy Relieve PMS With Food & Diet Changes. Commented on HelloLife · April 14, 2009 at 3:40 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    Funny you should mention that Sophie, I always crave Ketchup chips. I live in Canada and I heard that they do not make those in the States, so depending on where you live you might want to invest in a few bags of Lays Ketchup chips during that time of the month! Commented on HelloLife · January 11, 2010 at 11:55 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    Wow!

    I used to eat instant hot chocolate straight from the envelope... Best with marshmallows! Commented on HelloLife · May 23, 2010 at 6:09 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    one word . . . . . PASTA! Commented on HelloLife · July 19, 2010 at 10:13 PM

  • dee dee

    i have been craving eggs and oddly enough shrimp!! now normaly i cant stand either one. can you explain to me why it is that i want them so bad now? Commented on HelloLife · October 28, 2012 at 8:55 PM

  • pav pav

    oh thank god...i thought im the only one!i crave for all the bad bad things!McDonalds! =( sometimes pasta with meatballs..sometimes ice cream!but most of the times,fried stuff! Commented on HelloLife · March 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM

  • pav pav

    oh thank god...i thought im the only one!i crave for all the bad bad things!McDonalds! =( sometimes pasta with meatballs..sometimes ice cream!but most of the times,fried stuff! Commented on HelloLife · March 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM

  • NANCY NANCY

    I must be off the charts, last month it was sweets. This month I am craving fats and salt. I have plowed through shrimp cooked in butter, chips and ranch dip, french onion cheese dip, queso and beef nachos, and artichoke and pesto dip.... I am miserable and can't wait to start my flow! As soon as my period starts all my cravings go away and my hunger is gone, I don't even have an appetite! In the mean time I will have to work on losing the wait I gain each month.... this is so frustrating, I can't wait for menopause! Commented on HelloLife · April 17, 2013 at 7:10 PM

  • Magan Magan

    I crave anything and everything dairy. Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, ranch, etc. What makes it worse is I am lactose intolerant so I usually try to avoid anything dairy. However during the 2 weeks proceeding my period I get irresistible cravings for it. It is a hard life. Commented on HelloLife · May 11, 2013 at 12:53 PM

  • Katherine Katherine

    I have so many things from from chocolate to sugar cereal ( lucky charms, smacks) to chips and anything is it wrong that I give in to all my craving Commented on HelloLife · June 14, 2013 at 5:26 PM

  • E. E.

    I crave the most disgusting things a day or two right before It starts. First I suck all the spicy salt off the pork rinds, then I eat anything covered in hot sauce, then I top it off with Cinnabun, or a Root beer float. But when I'm eating those things, in my mind I am saying I am about to start my period. I thought we craved those things cause the salt and sugar was what we were loosing when we start. But I learned on here today that that isn't the case. Commented on HelloLife · August 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

  • Patricia Patricia

    I'm so glad I read this article because have noticed for the past year my craving of chocolate and I mean any thing chocolate rises couple of days before my period and the water retention is the worst when it coupled with the bloating. I knew it was symptoms of pins but never really paid attention to it for me it's my cue for yeah I'm getting my period soon...glad to know I'm normal. Commented on HelloLife · September 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM

  • Mimi Mimi

    Three days before my period I was craving Pringles and sour patch kids.. And I was on a health kick too. The next day was driving by a cookie factory and the smell was amazing, so I quickly stopped by Walmart and got cookies and donuts. Lol.. Oh Pms. Commented on HelloLife · October 4, 2013 at 7:48 AM

  • nikki nikki

    Omw I crave pizza and carbs and salty things and sweet things I'm almost always hungry, I hate it!!! I try to eat one solid meal a day on my monthly cause other wise I'll be 500+ by then end of the year!!!!! I hate it but I fear menopause!!! Commented on HelloLife · October 18, 2013 at 2:22 AM

  • Hannah Hannah

    I'm not one to consider chocolate as a treat, ever! Simply too rich, sweet and sugary. But for the past few days I couldn't for the life of me figure out WHY I was craving something rich and chocolatey so much. Made sense when my period came today though! Commented on HelloLife · January 22 at 6:12 AM

  • Arianna Arianna

    I tend to crave french fries a lot when I'm on and then sometimes fruit salad and doughnuts. Commented on HelloLife · May 18 at 10:01 AM

  • Hannah Hannah

    I experience horrible cravings for about a week before my period finally starts. This week its been cheese breadsticks from pizza hut and salty things like crackers or chips. I feel horrible and bloated despite my workouts at the gym nearby. Commented on HelloLife · August 1 at 10:12 PM

  • Remi Remi

    My cravings like change within one minute. At first I might crave Chinese food, then I might crave cream cheese. Straight from the jar. Then I might crave for an omelette, or skittles.

    I am on a diet.

    I need serious he;p. Commented on HelloLife · September 5 at 9:27 PM

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