Okay ladies, it’s time to face the ugly time of the month when our cramps leave us face down on the floor and we just can’t stop eating. For me, I always crave greasy food that is so bad for me when Aunt Flow comes to town. I know we all face those food cravings that leave us conflicted as to whether we should just give in or not.
It turns out we can blame our hormones for those food cravings that make us break our healthy streak. However, there are ways for us to help control those cravings, it’s just a matter of whether you’re ready to give up the necessary food groups to stop the cravings.
Okay, so let’s turn to our hormones. You aren’t alone in fighting food cravings. Our hormones are the reason we tend to desire fried food or chocolate during or before our periods. During the time right before your monthly gift from Mother Nature (horrible nickname, by the way), our stress hormone, cortisol, spikes and our feel-good hormone, serotonin, decreases.
This change in our hormone levels makes our bodies crave foods with lots of sugar and fat because they are able to boost our serotonin levels back up and fight the cortisol boost, which makes us feel happier. That is, until you start to crave more.
How to Fight It
Luckily, there are actions we can take to stop the cravings, but it’s not so easy. By eliminating processed foods, caffeine, and refined carbs in the two weeks leading up to your period, and increasing the amount of fiber and protein you consume, you can help your hormones stay balanced. Caffeine is the worst, as it increases your cortisol levels, which can cause your cravings to be persistent.
If you are like me and you find it hard to cut out caffeine or maybe some of those other food groups, here are some swaps you can try to make when you are craving one particular thing.
Focus On Your Choices
First, what you have for breakfast can make or break your cravings. If you eat at least 20 grams of protein for your first meal, you’ll help stabilize your blood sugar and the protein will keep you feeling more full throughout the day. Try a cup of yogurt or eggs with some potatoes when you wake up during your period.
When you are craving chips or something salty, try to choose cooked whole grains and starchy vegetables instead, like sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are perfect because you still feel like you are getting in carbs and your bad food craving is satisfied without having super unhealthy treats.
Throughout your day, another good trick is to try to eat six mini meals instead of three larger meals. This way, it feels like you are eating more frequently, yet you’re still consuming the same amount of calories. This will also help regulate your blood sugar and fight against your cravings. If you are eating smaller meals more frequently, you are less likely to binge because you aren’t waiting for food for hours in between each meal.
Just Give In
However, sometimes you just have to give in to the cravings. That’s okay, we all need that unhealthy snack or meal every once and awhile to feel better. And if that doesn’t make you feel better about giving in to some of those cravings, just know your body’s metabolism increases the week before our period, so we are actually burning more calories anyway.