Why do Women Crave Carbs Right before Their Periods
One day I found myself watching TV and eating a banana. By the time the show ended, which only lasted about an hour, I had eaten around 11 large bananas! I am not exaggerating at all. My first reaction was "WTF!!" I honestly didn’t realize it until my body felt satisfied of all the sugar I guess. This unusual craving for sweets went on for two days until I finally saw my period. The second day I had a whole box of dates, and the third day I ate another 9 bananas. I couldn't control myself. I knew what I was doing, but I felt like my body needed it. I later justified that at least I was eating fruits and not candy or the unhealthy kind of carbs like --bread.
I have experienced this before, but never made the connection until a few years ago. Why was I craving all this sugar right before my cycle? I asked some of my girlfriends and they have experienced the same thing. So of course the nerd in me had to find the science behind it all and if I can avoid eating so much around that time of the month.
Unfortunately, women eating a lot before and during their periods is not a stereotype! Its all BIOLOGY! Great! **insert eye roll** According to a study in the Journal Annals of Endocrinology, women eat an extra 500 calories a day during their menstrual cycle! Right after ovulation and just before our bleeding starts, our serotonin (The Happy Hormone) levels decreases significantly and our cortisol (The Stress Hormone) increases. Carbs are known to promote the release of serotonin, so that is why we crave a lot of it during this time. It is our body's natural way of replacing that happy hormone so we don't feel sad, depressed or get mood swings which is common during our cycles. So how do we deal with this? Can we get rid of the cravings? Yes & no. We can't get rid of our hormones, but we can control them by choosing foods that will help regulate them during the day. Here are my tips:
Increase Your Fiber & Protein Intake! If you eliminate processed foods and increase your protein and fiber intake 1-2 weeks prior to your period starting you can help stabilize your hormones and blood-sugar levels.
Reduce your Caffeine Intake. I know this is going to be a hard one for my coffee lovers out there, but did you know that caffeine increases your cortisol levels? When cortisol goes up, serotonin goes down which will make you crave something sweet to boost your "happy." Try drinking tea.
Eat a Protein Packed Breakfast. When you start your day off with a protein packed breakfast as opposed to sugary cereals or a muffin, you can have stabilized blood sugar levels all day.
Eat Fresh Produce. A good source of water based fruits & veggies that’s high in fiber will help reduce period stomach bloat and curb cravings mid-day.
Just know you are not alone! We all experience it! Hope these ideas helped!