Ever feel like you want to eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE followed by ALL THE PASTA before or during your period? Yeah, us too. It's because your main reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) along with serotonin (the happiness hormone) all have a big dip and remain low during your period, while cortisol (the stress hormone). If you're not paying attention, the changes in your body chemicals can leave you with an empty bag of chips in one hand, an empty tub of ice cream in the other, and one sick stomach.
But it doesn't have to be this way! If you're a little proactive, you can actually beat the cravings while giving your body what it really needs before and during your period. Here are a few tips:
Eat a good breakfast. And no, a bowl of Coco Puffs doesn't count! You want protein and you want some healthy fats to start your day right and keep your blood sugar level. Try avocado toast and an egg or a smoothie with almond milk and greens.
Choose better treats. When you're jonesing for salty carbs, make some chipotle sweet potato fries and if it's something sweet, have a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds. These treats are guilt free, supportive of good health, and can satisfy your cravings.
Ease up on caffeine and alcohol. I know it seems brutal, but the dehydrating and depressing effects of caffeine and alcohol are only going to make your cravings worse. Stick to one cup of coffee or tea in the morning and try to skip happy hour for a few days when your cravings are at their worst.
Get some Magnesium. It'll help keep the bloat at bay and will support a good night's rest, which means you will be at your best throughout the day. Try bananas, pumpkin seeds, and beans to up your daily intake.
Listen to your belly. Your nutritional needs change quite a bit throughout your cycle and lots of women are extra hungry before and during their period. Pay attention to that! You should always eat when you are hungry--it will help keep your blood sugar levels even and stop you from having a hangry binge on garbage.
Get outside (and Take it Easy!). Being in nature is awesome for reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin levels and relaxing the mind and body, so taking a walk in a beautiful place or going for a gentle swim will make you feel great. When that serotonin is where it's supposed to be, your chances of overeating are radically reduced. Be mindful though; menstruation actually takes a lot of energy, so this is not the time to push yourself to your physical limits.