24 October 2020
Most women experience a change in their eating patterns around and during their period. For a lot of women, these changes can involve cravings, especially for chocolate. If you are affected by chocolate cravings during your period, read on to learn why.
The scientific research on chocolate cravings just before and during menstruation cannot find a link that is common to all cultures; there seems to be a degree of learned behavior affecting perimenstrual cravings. For example, one study revealed that of the American and Spanish women studied, 40 percent of American women reported perimenstrual cravings, versus just 4 percent of Spanish women.
However, there are some interesting links between what happens physically and psychologically during menstruation and chocolate cravings. Hormonal fluctuations just before your period can lead you to feel lethargic, irritated, and blue. Your serotonin and dopamine levels drop, and stress hormones such as cortisol rise, causing you to feel hungry and sad.
Increased hunger levels just before your period can cause you to snack more often. Additionally, chocolate contains compounds tryptophan and tyrosine, the precursors to the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, which explains why you reach for the chocolate when you feel hungry and sad.
Aside from neurotransmitters, there is a cultural factor involved. If you are from a country where you have learned that chocolate is a luxurious treat, it will be natural for you to reach for this comfort during times of low mood.
Consuming refined sugar can cause your body to retain water and sodium - leading to bloating and discomfort. It also causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can impact your energy and mood. Eating dairy and high-fat foods on your period can lead to menstrual cramps being stronger than usual.
On the flip side, high cocoa content dark chocolate contains potassium and magnesium. Potassium aids muscular function, which can help reduce cramps. Magnesium is known as the anti-stress mineral and can help relax and calm you when stress hormones rise during your period.
If you want to eat chocolate during your period, we recommend choosing high-quality minimum 70 percent dark chocolate and eating it in moderation. Steer clear of high-sugar milk or white chocolate. Keep yourself hydrated, do some gentle exercise, and eat plenty of vegetables and lean proteins to feel your best during your period.
You may also like: Does Exercise Help Period Cramps?
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