By: Annie Morgan
It’s that time of the month again… and your hormones are revved up.
You might be confused and wonder if you’ve completely lost it – and your husband or boyfriend might be scared at your sudden change and intense cravings.
Maybe you don’t even like sweets, but suddenly find yourself craving chocolate or ice-cream.
Or perhaps you are the type who craves nothing but carbs – big bowls of pasta and bottomless bread.
But the good news is, research shows your cravings are completely normal!
Women’s Health Magazine reported:
“According to Justine Roth, R.D., certified dietician nutritionist, the answer is yes. “During your period, your body is going through physiological changes,” she says. “Your hormones are out of whack, causing you to crave certain nutrients.”
Suzanne Fenske, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says there’s a line of thinking that endogenous opioid peptides, or EOPs, amino acid bonds that are always present in your body, could be to blame. During certain times—like your period (and pregnancy)—there are more active EOPs. “We’re not 100 percent certain,” she says. “But the theory is that with the presence of these EOPs, you have more cravings.”
While you might be relieved to know your cravings are normal – let’s face it – the last thing you want to do is gain 10lbs because you can’t stop eating sweets.
So if you’re looking to hone in your period cravings, check out our top tips.
Indulge – But In Moderation
If you are the type that tries to use sheer willpower to avoid eating anything unhealthy – chances are you’ll fail.
As a result, when you finally do give in, you’ll end up binging and eating even more.
During this time, give yourself permission to have a sweet snack – but try and choose a healthier option like dark chocolate.
And don’t eat an entire bar – have a piece or two.
In addition, realize you will probably feel more hungry during your period.
Instead of eating large meals, opt for 4-5 small meals throughout the day to help manage your appetite and reduce cravings.
And don’t forget to drink water!
Watch Your Caffeine Levels
Maybe you’re the type that drinks 3-4 cups of coffee a day.
But drinking coffee does cause stomach problems which can, in turn, make your cramps even worse.
However, it’s not recommended to just stop drinking coffee if you are used to drinking it, as this will make you even more irritable.
“Consuming too much caffeine can make you feel more irritable and stressed out, but cutting out your usual daily cup can leave you even more on edge. So while Willow and Stephanie don’t recommend cutting out caffeine entirely, they do recommend having a smaller cup of joe. And definitely cut out the afternoon cup, since caffeine can disrupt your sleep, which adds to the grumpiness and low energy that make you want to reach for sugary pick-me-ups.”
Just remember not to drink coffee too late in the day as insomnia is the last thing you want to deal with while you’re already in pain and miserable.
Manage Painful Symptoms
If your cramps are painful and you’re miserable – you might turn to food to take the edge off.
But don’t do it!
After a carb-filled binge, you’ll likely feel worse.
Instead, consider using a heating pad at night on your stomach to help you sleep, and take an over the counter pain reliever if your cramps are feeling bad.
And it might sound like the last thing you want to do, but make sure to continue doing gentle stretches and exercises.
Stretching keeps your body moving, and can even help relieve pain. And if you’re exercising and keeping up with your health routine, you’ll be less likely to carb binge.
And research shows magnesium can help take the edge off period cramps, so consider soaking in an Epsom salt bath before you go to bed each night.
This Too Shall Pass
When you’re in the middle of battling intense cravings, you might feel like it will never end.
But take heart in knowing that in a few days, it will all be over.
And if you end up giving in to cravings, give yourself grace.
Just get back to your regular eating and exercise routines and you’ll start to feel better.
What are some ways you deal with intense cravings?
Have you found a solution that works best for you?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with your friends and family to let them know how to manage their period food cravings!