In this article, you will learn:
- the mechanisms of PMS cravings
- how to stop them from happening
- other tips to manage your weight across your cycle
Food cravings are one of the most depressing symptoms of PMS. Every cycle, the same story happens: you emerge from your periods with tons of new resolutions: exercise more, eat super clean, etc. For the first two weeks, all goes well. You eat clean and exercise regularly, and it seems pretty easy. You start to think that PMS was just an invention of your mind.
But then, after two weeks, everything falls apart. You start craving all kinds of carby foods: pasta, pizza, cheap milk chocolate and so on. Also, you are super-tired and it feels incredibly hard to get off the couch. Soon, all of your follicular phase progress is back to zero and you feel like a total failure. As a result, you eat more chocolate.
But no more!
There are biological causes behind your PMS cravings, and you can disrupt those causes with simple actions.
The physiological cause of PMS cravings
Before talking about how to stop them, let’s understand why they happen. The exact causes of PMS cravings are not completely elucidated, but there are two probable causes identified: insulin resistance and low serotonin.
Why is that bad? Because the more insulin resistant you are, the more you crave carbs. Let’s understand why.
What is insulin? In a nutshell, it is the hormone that enables your cells to properly store sugar (or glucose) coming from your bloodstream. Cells in your body can be more or less sensitive to insulin, depending on your diet, lifestyle and genetics.
The more sensitive you are to insulin, the better. When you are insulin-sensitive, your cells manage efficiently glucose, which helps you maintain a healthy relationship with food:
- you feel hungry only when your body needs energy
- you crave real foods, containing the nutrients you need
- you have steady energy levels
On the opposite, when your cells are insulin-resistant, they are not as efficient at storing sugar. Imagine that the glucose from your last meal is passing by your cells in the bloodstream, but the cells don’t manage to get it in. As a result, your blood sugar gets very high, but your cells don’t get the energy they need, leaving you exhausted, weak, and depleted. And since your cells don’t get enough glucose, your brain makes you crave MORE sugar.
The second cause of PMS cravings is low serotonin. Studies show that levels of oestrogen and serotonin are interconnected. Levels of serotonin, the “happy neurotransmitter”, are influenced by levels of oestrogens. the serotonin drop that is associated with PMS. Many studies show that serotonin levels are positively associated with estrogen levels.
explain that serotonin levels are linked to oestrogen levels, so they naturally go down during the luteal phase
Unroot your PMS cravings
Increase your insulin sensitivity
- Sleep well source
- Reduce Stress
- Lose a Few Pounds
- Link to the full article
There is a physiological reason why it is so easy to cut back on junk food after your period. Research shows that during the first half of your cycle, appetite goes way down, slowly growing back from period to ovulation. That’s because your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, which means it’s more efficient at managing sugar stores.
But then, a few days after ovulation, as you are starting to see the results of your Spartan lifestyle, you suddenly crave that cheap bar of chocolate or that pizza.
And again: it’s not you, it’s the hormones! During the second part of your cycle, insulin sensitivity goes down, and your body starts sucking at managing sugar stores, leaving you feeling depleted even if you eat enough.
Increase your serotonin
ways to increase serotonin
Manage your cravings
Meal prep before PMS
Prepare healthy junk food
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570621/ – The Interactive Effects of Estrogen and Progesterone on Changes in Emotional Eating Across the Menstrual Cycle
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1327664/#B43 – An overlooked connection: serotonergic mediation of estrogen-related physiology and pathology