Craving chocolate before your period? Dietitian explains why | Nourish with Melanie #2

Craving chocolate before your period? Dietitian explains why | Nourish with Melanie #2


We all know that feeling in the days before
our period is due, when the cravings kick in. “Give me chocolate! Please!”. Why is it that women not only suffer through
the pain and discomfort of our ritual monthly bleeding, but also get smashed down with crazy,
guilt-inducing cravings for sweets and high carbohydrate foods? Well, it’s commonly believed that pre and
peri-menstrual chocolate cravings are due to hormonal imbalances. The theory is, that it’s caused by the drop
in progesterone and oestrogen, which occurs right before our period begins, that causes
an increase in hunger. At the same time, our “feel-good” hormone,
serotonin, takes a sudden dip, whilst our stress hormone, cortisol, spikes. This hormone rollercoaster results in the
anxious little girl inside of us, breaking out and reaching for the chocolate, or whatever
is filled with sugar and fat, to make us feel better. The fat and sugar content of these treats
make our serotonin signals rise again, whilst simultaneously curbing our cortisol stress
production: that is, for a short time until the feeling wears off and we get more cravings. Whilst it is true that these hormone changes
are occurring in our bodies at the same time we experience these terrible cravings, the
question is: is it correlation or causation? Thus far, the research has found no solid
evidence that our hormone fluctuations are to blame for perimenstrual cravings. For example, one study set out to determine
whether giving pre-menstrual doses of progesterone to women could curb cravings during this time. But, the results found that the group with
more progesterone had no significant improvements in their cravings compared to those who received
the placebo. Therefore, progesterone was concluded to have
no impact on the food cravings of women during our perimenstrual cycle. Another study compared chocolate cravings
between Spanish and American women. It found that whilst the two cultures had
similar occurances of chocolate cravings, American women were far more likely to pinpoint
their menstrual cycle as the time they craved chocolate, compared to Spanish women. When asked when THEY craved chocolate, the
Spanish women most often responded with times of the day or activities, such as ‘after dinner’
or ‘during study’ with little mention of their monthly period. This tells us that perimenstrual cravings
can not be physiological if not all women, Spanish and American alike, experience it. Since there is no solid evidence on the physiological
front, researchers have turned to psychology to try to explain the phenomenon. Some people believe that craving chocolate
pre-menstrually may be cue-induced. That is, the onset of our period, psychologically
cues our brain to crave comfort food. It’s thought to work like this: Our period
makes us sad and stressed. We eat chocolate. Chocolate tastes good and makes us feel a
little better. Now we have a learned cue: getting our period
equals eating chocolate equals feeling better! So, essentially we crave chocolate because
we’ve taught ourselves to crave it. It’s believed that as Westerners, we originally
learn this cue from our society, which generally accepts ‘splurging’ or ‘treating’ whenever
we feel down. Heck, even movies and TV shows teach us this! Still, researchers are not overly sold on
the psychological reasoning behind these cravings either, which leaves us with no real, solid
answer as to why we have these cravings. After reviewing the current research, I believe
that craving chocolate before our period is a mixture of physiology, psychology and cultural
conditioning. Our hormonal changes during the days leading
up to our menstrual cycle leave us feeling stressed and tired, which we try to eradicate
by indulging in our favourite comfort foods. This ends up creating a cycle by which we
crave high fat and sugar foods when we get our period every month. So, we have covered the mechanisms behind
WHY we crave chocolate, but how can we combat these? Let me share a few tricks that might help you
keep these cravings at bay: Number one – Lower your intake of refined
carbs, and coffee, in the week or so leading up to your period. Coffee can increase your levels of our stress
hormone, cortisol. While refined carbs cause a spike in blood
sugar, which then leads to a massive drop. Both of these can cause fatigue which can
make us crave more sugar and caffeine to help boost our energy levels again! So, it’s best to avoid the roller coaster,
and stay away from these foods from the start. Secondly, Increase your intake of protein
and fibre before your period. Both protein and fibre help stabilise blood
sugar levels and keep us feeling fuller for longer, therefore when we’re eating foods
rich in these nutrients, we’re less likely to give into our cravings! My third suggestion is Exercise! I know it may be the last thing you feel like
doing, but exercising increases the secretion of serotonin, our happy hormone. Try heading out for a walk with a girlfriend
or book into a regular exercise class, to boost your motivation. Personally, I love to put on some music and
dance, but find something that suits you. And, finally, if all else fails, allow yourself
to indulge in some chocolate, but keep it to a minimum. One piece of chocolate isn’t going to ruin
your life forever, and if it helps you feel better, then it’s not the end of the world
– but try to limit your intake to a small amount on one or two days each month.

5 thoughts on “Craving chocolate before your period? Dietitian explains why | Nourish with Melanie #2”

  1. What about diabetes type 2 and chocolate cravings? Can explain that is it sugars too high or low? And before period? Is it all connected or not?

  2. It sucks. It almost feels like a damn punishment. I start next week and I’m laying here watching this and eating Cheetos. Happens every god forsaken month. On top of that I am trying to get abs. Nearly impossible

  3. Im only 12 but i got my period last night and im freaking out. This was very helpful and i thank you for making this video

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