ViChizh/shutterstockIf you develop a hankering for French fries and chocolate during that time of month, you’re not alone. A change in dietary desires in the days leading up to menstruation is normal, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. Ignoring those cravings isn’t as easy as easing other PMS symptoms. Food cravings are common in women experiencing PMS and pregnancy because they’re hormone driven, according to Carolyn Dean, MD, women’s health expert and author of Hormone Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Restoring Health And Vitality.
PMS causes the stress hormone cortisol to soar and the feel-good hormone serotonin to dip, Dean says. “This change makes your body crave foods packed with sugar and fat,” she continues, “because they help increase levels of serotonin and fight cortisol production, making you feel better and happier.” In essence, you can attribute your increasingly voracious appetite to your hormones going haywire.
Although these cravings are tough to predict, according to the scientific experts at Clue, a female health app that works to provide resources on accurate menstrual health, tracking cravings throughout your cycle may help you identify a specific pattern of cravings. For example, when you’re in the second phase of your cycle—the luteal—you may start salivating for something especially sweet. During the premenstrual phase, you may crave starchy or calorically dense carbohydrates like bread and pizza. Your cravings may even reveal some important info about your health.
Numerous women crave chocolate both before and during their period, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Chocolate is loaded with surprising health benefits. Experts believe that perimenstrual chocolate cravings stem from the fluctuating levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone and perimenstrual nutritional deficits, although the primary reason may be that the magnesium in chocolate may help ease painful menstruation.