Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Almost without fail, most of us experience some form of craving during our periods. Whether we find ourselves reaching for something salty or our sweet tooth makes its presence known that much more, it seems like particular cravings hit extra hard. And guess what? It is not actually all in our heads – it’s backed, in fact, by some sound science.
WHY DO WE HAVE CRAVINGS?
As our bodies are going through some pretty heavy physiological changes during our period, it is well-known that this causes our hormones to spike and go all kinds of out of balance. That, in turn, leads to our bodies suddenly craving certain nutrients. In fact, the two most common period cravings are sweet, rich chocolate and salty potato chips.
There have been some studies linking endogenous opioid peptides (EOPs) and cravings as these amino acid bonds are thought to be more active during your period. The line of thinking is essentially: more EOPs, more cravings.
So, what does each type of craving mean for you, body and hormone-wise?
While not always 100% your hormones’ fault, craving salty foods could be a symptom of adrenal fatigue. Essentially, cortisol is a hormone that factors into us feeling awake and alert – but too much of it, and it becomes a stress hormone. This transition to too much stress takes, in turn, a toll on another hormone, aldosterone, which is dubbed the ‘salt saver.’ It’s drained of salt more quickly than typical and so our bodies crave salts more and more.
As the majority of American women have reported craving chocolate on their periods and the days leading up to that week, it is no surprise that sugary cravings occur quite frequently. This exaggerated sweet tooth craving typically happens due to an unbalanced blood sugar level or being deficient in chromium or magnesium.
And magnesium, it turns out, is another thing that is stress-affected, depleting during times of great duress and leading to us feeling off or not in the zone in the days leading up to our cycles. Further, chocolate (or more specifically cocoa) is naturally high in magnesium, so it would make sense that your premenstrual body would be craving it to replace the lost nutrient. Experts recommend opting for dark chocolate over milk chocolate, too, since it has more of the nutrients that your body wants and will curb your craving faster.
SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
In general, experts agree that period cravings are normal and harmless and the best thing to do is just indulge a little. However, there is one general disclaimer: if you find yourself craving something that is so far out of the ordinary for you, then it might be time to have a talk with your doctor, as that could be a sign of anemia lurking as an underlying cause and not just typical period cravings.
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