Food cravings are just one of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS.
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What is premenstrual syndrome?
Premenstrual syndrome is a range of symptoms that some women suffer on the days before their period. It is not universal and the intensity of the symptoms varies depending on the person, but it is quite widespread. In its mildest form it is observed in up to 90% of women who have ovulatory cycles, although it is true that most cases are not sufficient cause for a gynaecological visit.
There are a wide variety of symptoms and curious facts that women suffering from this syndrome refer to. For example, women may feel their sex drive during their period, or during ovulation – about 14 days before they get their next period. But today we are going to talk specifically about one of them: food cravings.
Why do we get food cravings the days before?
Maybe it has happened to you too. After a few weeks eating healthily, suddenly one day, without warning, you have a crazy desire to get through all the chocolate you can find. Or biscuits or any other type of carbohydrate that crosses your path, especially if it contains lots of sugar.
After the storm has subsided, you realize that it is just few days until your period starts. This is a very common situation.
What is the cause?
At this point in life, we already know that it is no accident that these attacks on the fridge always occur on the same dates.
We will explain who is responsible for this action: your hormones
During the late luteal phase of your period, that is, after ovulation, a few days before bleeding begins, a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone occurs. This hormonal swings lead to a decrease in one of the brain’s neurotransmitters, serotonin.
Serotonin is responsible for feeling good, so as its production decreases you will feel mood swings, emotional distress, irritability…
Your brain then tries to stimulate its release.
And it has been shown that carbohydrate consumption increases its production.
The imbalance of serotonin produced by the hormonal swings at the end of the menstrual cycle, makes us feel a real weakness for sweet foods.
In addition, due to this decrease in serotonin, you will sleep worse, making you feel more tired and look for something that makes you feel good: chocolate.
Is there anything we can do to avoid it?
The most important thing is to be very aware of what is happening and not get carried away by the urge.
1. Avoid junk food, pastries and soft drinks
And by avoid, I mean get it out of your reach. Do not have anything you should not eat in the cupboard.
2. Choose fruit
When you have food cravings for something sweet, choose fruit. It provides vitamins and fibre, as well as sugar. Increase your portions of vegetables and salads. Fibre-rich foods help increase feelings of fullness and you will eat less of what you should avoid. Here you can read about 7 healthy foods that will change your life.
3. Do not wait to eat when you are too hungry.
This will make it harder for you to control your sugar intake.
4. Full breakfast
Add more protein to your breakfast to stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied for longer.
5. Adopt good habits like exercising.
This increases serotonin, which will make you feel better. It will also help you stop attacking the biscuit cupboard.
6. And, above all, do not become obsessed with it.
If food cravings threatens to overcome you, opt for a healthier version. Find sweet recipes with fewer calories that you can have ready for real emergencies.
If you need advice, at our clinic in London there are experts in women’s all-round health that can help you.