If you suffer from the monthly munchies, find out why you get such intense food cravings and what you should be eating to get through your period without feeling like the cookie monster! Guest post by Voome
If there are a few things that will unite literally all women around the world, it’s learning how to deal with that time of month and all the bells and whistles that comes with it. Mood swings, bloating, lack of energy and the insatiable craving for chocolate and pizza.
While it is natural to want to eat more during certain parts of your cycle, if you’re trying to lose weight, stick to a healthy eating plan or just wanting to feel less crap, here’s what you need to know.
What causes cravings for sweet and fatty foods?
According to Dr. Rebecca Deans, a gynaecologist at the Royal Hospital for Women and Sydney Children's Hospital, “for some women the hormone progesterone causes cravings, as well as tender breasts, and mood changes.
Progesterone increases post ovulation, so this occurs during the second two weeks of a woman’s cycle. It is the same hormone that is increased in pregnancy which is linked to pregnancy cravings.”
On top of this serotonin (the feel good hormone) dips, while the stress hormone, cortisol, increases. To deal with this the body craves something that’ll make it feel good. Enter those sugary and salty foods like pizza, ice cream and chocolate.
Voome Tip: Choose a few meals that are easy to make, delicious and contain all the right nutrients to keep you feeling good. Pair this with some dark chocolate and soothing herbal teas and this will help keep your cravings under control and healthy eating in check.
What you should be eating Rather than caving into high sugar snacks or refined carbs, opt for the following foods to combat spikes in your blood sugar levels, restock depleted nutrient sources and for overall wellbeing:
- Iron: In Australia more than a million people are anaemic (iron-deficient) with women 18-30 being the most susceptible to it. Whether or not you have a heavy period, there’s still a chance your iron levels will be depleted causing low energy, moodiness and brain fog. Iron is found in red meat, seafood, poultry, beans, peas, lentils and leafy greens, although it’s not as easily absorbed from plant sources. Iron rich foods should be eaten every day and not just during menstruation.
- Omega 3: Including foods with Omega 3 in your diet can help ease menstrual pain and stabilise your mood. Stock up on salmon, avocados, walnuts and greek yoghurt.
- Magnesium: This calming mineral is critical for wellbeing, especially during your period. Yet many women (and men) are deficient. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant which helps soothe cramps and headaches, alleviates stress and regulate blood sugar levels.
You may be surprised (and overjoyed) to know that cocoa is pack-a-lacked with magnesium! So, those chocolate cravings during your period are totally validated. Just make sure to choose dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa.
Magnesium is also found in whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and bananas!
- Potassium: Whip up some banana pancakes, a smoothie or some freshly squeezed OJ because these guys are your best friends when it comes to getting your potassium hit! This mineral can ease bloating and water retention and not enough of this it can cause muscle cramps.
What to Avoid Indulging in pizza or ice cream here and there is absolutely fine - life is all about balance! But, if you do want to stay on the feel-good bandwagon, here are a few things that might intensify your period pain or symptoms:
- Salty, sugary and carbonated food and drinks will intensify any bloating. ( No one likes to feel bloated!)
- Alcohol will also add to that bloated feeling and can cause fatigue and headaches. Also, a hangover and period pain? NO, thank you!
- Refined sugar and grains are another no-no as they will mess with your blood sugar levels, making you that little bit more irritable, tired and moody!
- If you want to “crave less”, eat healthier all month round. By nourishing your body with whole, unrefined foods you’ll be less susceptible to those sugar crashes.
- Start your day with a protein filled brekkie. Not only will this keep you fuller for longer, but if you’re including red meat or leafy greens this will also up your iron intake.
- If you’re craving it, break off a few squares of dark chocolate and reap the healthy benefits!
- Be aware that your appetite can increase for a couple of days before or during a period, so don’t beat yourself up if you eat a bit more. Eat mindfully and know that it will pass!