Hey Jess, I always find that I am crazy hungry and craving chocolate just before my period. It’s like my appetite goes into overdrive. Any idea what’s behind this sudden shift?
These cues are a clear sign that your period is on its way. Rest assured you’re not alone. Let’s understand what’s going on and dive into the reasons behind it.
But before we do that, let’s first quickly recap the hormone changes that occur through the menstrual cycle stages.
The cycle kick starts with what’s commonly known as your period. Estrogen and progesterone levels are low and the uterine lining sheds.
Then, estrogen levels rise, promoting the ovaries to prepare an egg for release.
An egg is released from the ovary and estrogen levels then dip.
Progesterone levels rise and surpass estrogen.
If you check out the stages above, you’ll notice that just before your period, progesterone levels rise. This hormone is thought to boost appetite so when it peaks before ovulation, it might be the reason you find yourself craving more snacks.
In the luteal phase, as progesterone and estrogen levels are heightened our resting metabolic rate (RMR) increases. As RMR increases, it signifies that your body is burning more calories at rest, potentially leading to feelings of hunger.
You may notice this more during the premenstrual phases of your cycle, as your body craves additional energy to sustain the increased metabolic activity.
Changes in hunger and cravings during your menstrual cycle might sync up with the ups and downs of serotonin levels, also known as the happy hormone. These may drop during the luteal phase and result in you heading to the fridge more frequently.
When faced with the munchies, opt for nutrient-dense snacks during the premenstrual phase. To help, have a small serving of your craving and pair it with food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains. For example, eat a square of chocolate with fruit, rather than devouring a whole bag of chocolate buttons (my go-to craving).
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger.
Aim to stick to a routine, even on the days you just want to curl up into a ball. It doesn’t have to be high intensity, even a walk in the countryside or a short yoga session can improve mood and potentially help to regulate appetite and cravings.
Every month, some of us are united by our common cravings just before our period. But remember, you’re not alone. Hormonal changes, especially in the luteal phase, alongside fluctuations in resting metabolic rate and serotonin levels contribute to these feelings.
Jessica Stansfield, RNutr
Junior Nutrition Manager
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