Dreaded 3 letter word…PMS and Sugar Cravings
Today, not only do I have the flu, I am also PMSing.
Maybe you can relate….
You’re doing well with your low sugar, healthy eating habits until that PMS week comes along.
I want chocolate.
I feel fat and horrible and I want chocolate.
Life sucks right now and I want chocolate!
Ok, ok…. let’s not be so dramatic. (even though I want to be!)
Your hormones are to blame for your desire for sweets before or during your period. During this time, the irritating stress hormone cortisol spikes, and the feel-good hormone serotonin dips. This fluctuation makes your body crave foods with lots of sugar and fat because they boost levels of serotonin and combat cortisol production, making you feel happier and more relaxed. That is, until you crash and need another sugary or fatty snack.
These biological changes remove our sense of emotional well being where generally happy feelings are likely to be replaced with irritability, anger, exhaustion and depression. To add to that bundle of fun, it’s common to bloat and retain water. It’s not abnormal to increase 5-10 lbs. through water retention and clothes feel tight and uncomfortable.
The good news? Despite what many women think, your period doesn’t have to come with a side of cravings.
So what can you do to help with these crazy cravings?
Here are my best strategies:
1.Eliminate processed foods, caffeine, and refined carbs in the two weeks leading up to your period
Upping your intake of fiber and protein can help your hormone and blood-sugar levels stay relatively stable.
Caffeine increases your cortisol levels, and refined carbs cause your blood sugar to spike, which is why it’s helpful to lay off of them.
2. Up the magnesium
Another reason why we can crave sugar at this time is potential magnesium deficiency. During this second half of our menstrual cycle when progesterone and estrogen are elevated, magnesium levels plummet and our bodies are naturally going to crave it.
Guess what’s magnesium rich? Yeap, CHOCOLATE!!
Peanut butter, almonds, cashews, brown rice, sunflower seeds, and most beans are great sources of magnesium. It should be noted that chocolate is also rich in magnesium but it’s also high in fat. If you simply must have chocolate, try to make it a small piece of high-quality, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, which typically has more calories and fat. I personally love 85% dark chocolate to get my fix.
3.Relax and take a deep breath
Cravings can worsen in times of stress. By learning relaxation techniques and practicing them whenever you feel anxious or stressed, you can curtail the snack attacks.
4. Bring on the sunshine
The lack of sun can reduce serotonin levels, which leads to increased appetite and cravings. Get outdoors or let the sunshine in to raise serotonin levels and reduce sugar and carb cravings.
5. Get moving
Exercise boosts endorphins and decreases the appetite, but it’s not just scheduled exercise that can help. Being more physically active throughout your daily routine can also make a difference. Walk the dog, vacuum the floor, take the stairs, and simply keep moving.
6. Eat or Drink Your Veggies
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, along with some nuts and seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are also a good source of magnesium. You can add all of these things as an addition to most meals and snacks pretty easily e.g. scrambled eggs, salads, soups etc. It goes without saying to just try and keep your diet as healthy, well balanced and varied as possible.
Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Recognize what’s going on with your body, emotions and cycle and resist any urges to do some drastic form of diet or restriction. These are likely going to backfire and install unhealthy mindsets that don’t serve a good relationship with food or sugar.
Binges at this point will inevitably be more likely and your body wants and needs more food, so allow for it. You wont’ be as hungry the other weeks and accepting this natural cycle is really eating in line with your body.
So if you’re craving starchy carbohydrates some roasted sweet potato will do the job.
If ice cream is screaming your name, could you top some creamy yogurt with berries and grated dark chocolate? Or blend a frozen banana with some coconut cream and a drizzle of chocolate. Yum!
Eating a bit more than usual if it happens can be managed.
Don’t beat yourself up for overeating a little chocolate and instead use it to practice slowing down and mindful eating.
Please leave me your comments below as I’m always interested in what you are going through!
And if you like this post, please share it with a friend and give someone else a chance to use these techniques!