Have you noticed that you start to get cravings before your period? Do you sometimes crave strange foods? Today we are going to talk about periods and cravings.
What are cravings?
Cravings are the urge that you might feel to eat something specific like sugar or carbs. A lot of us experience cravings before or at the beginning of our periods.
What causes cravings before your period?
We can usually blame our hormones for cravings. Changes in estrogen and progesterone can cause us to crave sugar or high-carb foods. This is often what is happening right before our periods.
Cravings can also be very common in pregnancy. This is also because of the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy! If you are finding that you are having a lot of cravings and haven’t had a period or your period is late, it might be worth doing a pregnancy test.
Can cravings before my period be linked to my mood?
In a word, yes.
Some people find that their mood gets quite low before their periods. This is also a function of the hormonal changes that happen towards the end of the cycle, during the Luteal phase.
When we eat sweet or starchy foods our bodies release serotonin which makes us feel happy. This can reinforce the cravings! If you feel a bit low and then eating sugar makes you feel better then you might crave more sugar.
What if I find I am compulsively eating before my period?
Compulsive eating before your periods might be a sign of a condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. This is a particularly severe form of PMS. It’s worth talking to a doctor for help if you think you might be suffering from PMDD.
Is it bad to give in to my cravings?
Sometimes you get cravings because you aren’t eating enough or your diet is missing certain components. It is a good idea to listen to your body if this is the case.
Sometimes indulging in a lot of sweet things makes us feel worse, and probably isn’t something we should be doing every day! But sometimes it makes us feel better. Generally, it is a good idea to listen to our bodies.
What can I do about the cravings I get before my period?
If the foods you’re craving are making you feel worse then there are some things you can do about it!
If you are craving carbs, for example, you could try choosing healthier carbs like beans, brown rice, oats, or lentils. They will still give you the serotonin increase of the bread/chips/pasta carbs but it will last for longer and won’t leave you with the crash after the sugar high.
If it’s sugar that you are craving then fruit, yogurt or smoothies might be a healthier choice than sweets or cookies.
Just remember that this is just advice for if the food you’re craving makes you feel gross. If you want a cookie and the cookie makes you feel good then eat the cookie!
Other ways to improve how you feel when you have cravings might be gentle exercises like a walk or some yoga. Have sex — either by yourself or with someone else. Do something that will make you laugh like watching a funny movie, listening to a podcast, or watching a comedy show. Spend time with or call someone you like!
When should I see a doctor?
If you are really struggling with cravings throughout the month, and not just around your period, then this might mean something else is going on. Equally, if you aren’t feeling like you are in control of your eating, you’re using food to cope with other negative emotions, or your cravings are interfering with your ability to function, then that might be a sign that asking for some professional help might be a good idea.
If you have already struggled with eating in the past and your cravings are making life difficult for you then please ask for help!
Finally, if you are craving things that aren’t food, e.g. dirt, paper, ice, etc, then please speak to a professional. It might be simple like an iron deficiency but it also might be a sign of another medical condition that needs treatment.