I am trying really hard to incorporate better foods into my dieting and to eliminate snacking and also to cut back on sugar. But I have found that during my periods I stay super hungry all the time and want all the sweets and chocolate which isn’t like me thought any other time. Is there a reason for this?
Blaming The Hormones
Dear Blaming The Hormones,
YESSSS I deal with the same thing! Every month I can seriously tell when my period is coming because I get soooo hungry. And usually for very specific things!
The good news is, this is totally normal (I’ll explain why in a sec). The bad news is, it can seriously throw off your groove every month. Even though I fully support a flexible diet, I also notice that during this time when I’m craving lots of sugar and foods I don’t usually eat often, it just makes period symptoms like bloating, acne, and fatigue even worse.
Here’s why you’re more hungry on your period, and how you can get more of a handle on it (and feel amazing)!
Hormones make you hungry
I’m sure you guessed that hormones were behind all of this.
Throughout your cycle, your estrogen levels fluctuate. And as they go up and down, so does another hormone, cortisol. When cortisol is high, so is your appetite. Since cortisol is a stress hormone, it specifically makes you crave carbs. It’s just part of the “fight or flight” stress response!
You need comfort food
The chemicals in your brain fluctuate around your period too. Serotonin is one of the major ones, and it tends to drop around your period! When this happens, you might feel sad, grumpy, or anxious.
This is where craving sweets comes in! Your body uses carbs to make serotonin, and it can metabolize simple carbs found in sugary foods faster than other types of carbs. Soooo that leads to the craving for chocolate and other sweets.
PMS affects your blood sugar, too
See, there really is SO much that goes into this!
Let’s go back to another hormone that can change during your menstrual cycle: insulin. I’m probably going to oversimplify this, but here we go.
Insulin comes from your pancreas and helps sugar (glucose) in your blood get into the cells. During your period, some studies suggest that your cells might be MORE sensitive to insulin, which means sugar is going to get into the cells faster. It sounds like a good thing, but it can make your blood sugar a liiiiittttle less steady than usual. And that can make you feel hungry (or maybe HANGRY) sooner.
How to make the best of it!
Now that you know WHY your period makes you so hungry, what’s the best way to deal with it? Like I said before, I’m all for a flexible diet. If you’re hungry, there’s a reason! No need to fight it.
On the other hand, you don’t want to go overly crazy. Considering you’re already uncomfortable because hellloooo you’re on your period, you probably don’t want to add more bloating and fatigue to the mix.
Eat more carbs – I found that increasing my carb intake actually helps prevent cravings for sweets later. I try to plan ahead and eat more fruit, starchy veggies, quinoa, etc.
Hydrate – You know I’m super passionate about water lately. Staying hydrated seriously helps everything.
Healthy fats – Fat is KEYYY to staying satisfied between meals! If you’re feeling hungry right after a meal, try adding healthy fats. Avocado, nuts, nut butters, seeds, and eggs are all super easy adds.
Gentle exercise – Movement keeps your body feeling good and helps with your mood! Both can help with cravings. I wrote a whole guide to working out on your period! Check it out here.
OF COURSE the best thing to do if you’re struggling is talk to your doctor and/or dietitian. They are the experts!!!
Hopefully, some of these tips help! All of the changes that come with your period can make you feel a little out of control, which is tough!
PS – If you have a burning question you want to ask me, leave your questions below! I may answer it in an upcoming Dear Cassey post!