Do you Crave Chocolate at “that” time??

Posted on July 23rd

Food Cravings & Your Menstrual Cycle.

This is something that is very common amongst us Ladies…so common indeed that research shows at least 70% of women suffer from Food Cravings, Mood Swings and Irritability during their period.

Food Cravings are often a result of hormonal imbalances/hormones out of control…very often tied to inadequate Nutrition. Fluctuating hormones also have an effect on Brain Chemistry (Seretonin is a Brain Chemical…this will make more sense as you read on) So really to avoid any Food Cravings, its time we looked at our Diet and sorted our Hormones out…and YES it really is that SIMPLE!!!

During your period, do you get an intense craving for sweet, sugary foods? desperately seeking chocolate? Please know you’re not alone in these cravings, surveys have found that 50% of women consume more junk food during “Time of the Month”, typically eating more sugary foods, processed foods and takeaways. Many women really crave chocolate just before their period is due. This is because chocolate contains tryptophan which helps the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the mood enhancers of the brain, and as we often feel moody around our period, eating chocolate really can make us feel better!

Because of other properties that are in chocolate, like potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium many doctors recommend that one square of dark bitter chocolate a day can actually be good for your general health.

I have been contacted by tons of women regarding this, especially as it plays havoc with some peoples lifestyles and tends to see them falling off the wagon and scoffing the BAD foods during this time of the month, but as I am sure you will agree we can’t keep using “time of the month” as an excuse… much as we would love too.

Before we start let me just say that having Cravings does NOT mean you have a lack of willpower….so STOP blaming YOUrself and just chill….and dont blame yourself, because by doing this you will only make your mood worse and your cravings will re-appear

OK…so yes every woman is different, but typically the menstrual cycle last 28 days in total…..with hormones floating around all over the place during this time….heres the geeky sciency bit – more over Einstein:

As Estrogen Levels fluctuate, so does Cortisol (the stress hormone) Levels, but the body wants to keep both of these levels even..therefore it causes us to “crave” Carbs/Bad Fats……and in walks the chocolate. Serotonin (Yeah I am sure you have all heard of this gem) is a brain chemical that gives feelings of contentment (Food and Exercise can trigger Seretonin by the way….but I know food is the more likely source for many) When Cortisol is elevated and Seretonin is Low we crave sugary foods, and this is simply because the body knows that simple carbs (bad carbs) will raise the Seretonin levels fast and this will more than likely be something you have all experienced – let me break it down – You dont control the signal that causes the carb/sugar craving, its the “simple” carbs that quickly release the Seretonin and then you feel “good” for a little bit and  then you CRASH (mid afternoon lull…when u reach for that mars bar?? ring a bell??)…and so it begins again…the Vicious Cycle.

When Seretonin is low…the brain needs a “pick me up” but as it is related to hormonal imbalances, sometimes the signals to the Brain get mixed up….which causes the Simple Carbs to step into action”

Magnesium Deficiency has also been known to cause these imbalances and cravings in Women (not just at times of month either)…so if you are not eating the right foods to get Magnesium into your diet, it may be worth supplementing with Magnesium!

It may also be worth keeping a “Food and Mood” Diary, by recording the type of foods you eat and if there is any emotional connection to them…you may be surprised and will more than likely see a pattern. Also keeping a Food Diary and noting what you eat during your period and how you felt…again you may see a pattern, you may be surprised at how linked they are. Food cravings are often a way for the body to compensate for missing nutrients that it needs.

Food cravings are often a way for the body to compensate for missing nutrients that it needs. For example eating foods containing magnesium and potassium  (green veggies, fruit or even taking a good magnesium supplement before bed, as this also aids with sleep and muscle recovery) is helpful if you have a tendency towards depression during your period. Low serotonin levels also play a part in depression, and eating chocolate and carbohydrates can help raise your serotonin levels.

So…before you grab that mega big choice bar, have a little look at what your diet looks like and if you need to supplement with magnesium…..

AND FINALLY if you MUST have chocolate go for good quality DARK Chocolate…just 1 square is all you need

Jen x