Why You Crave Sugar and Carbs on Your Period

  • by Claire Corbin

Written by Claire Corbin

If you notice your appetite for sweet and carb-heavy foods goes through the roof on or before your period, you’re not alone! Whether it’s chocolate, chips, pizza, or ice cream, the urge for these treats seems to skyrocket for a lot of menstruators during this time. An increase in hunger and cravings is common, but what exactly causes them?

You may crave sweet and starchy foods before or during your period because they produce the happy hormone, AKA serotonin :) – a longer-lasting version of dopamine. Each phase of your cycle comes with different levels of hormones and varying symptoms. During your luteal phase, your hormones reach peak concentration and then fall significantly right before your period begins. This can explain unexpected changes in your mood and may cause irritability and emotional distress. Eating foods that cause your body to release a chemical surge of joy and positivity could be exactly what you need. And we all know that cramps are not uncommon while bleeding (unfortunately). A boost of serotonin in the form of chocolate could help relieve these symptoms and give you comfort!  

While increasing serotonin, chocolate can also reduce inflammation since it’s an antioxidant. Additionally, dark chocolate is rich in magnesium which tends to have a calming effect and can help relieve period cramps. Some cravings may indicate that you’re lacking nutrients found in those foods, like magnesium if you’re craving chocolate, or iron if you’re craving protein. So if you were looking for another reason to stop ignoring your period cravings, here it is! 

A few studies have found that some menstruators’ resting metabolic rate, or metabolism increases in the luteal phase. Your appetite might increase before or during your period because you could be burning more calories during these phases. However, the research on this is mixed and may depend on the person. 

Healthier Alternatives to Your Cravings 

Sometimes you just need to have the real thing – a real burger and not a chickpea patty or salty potato chips and not quinoa chips. Valid! You don’t need to demonize these foods. Other times you may want to go for healthier alternatives, as they could make you feel better in the long run. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try Marianna Moore’s protein-packed Greek Yogurt Popsicles. If your body is in need of something nutrient and iron-rich, poke bowls are a great option. Plus, you can make them in many different ways! Try the Minimalist Bakers' Salmon Sushi Bowl or Tofu Sushi Bowl. It’s worth noting that baked root vegetables and leafy greens can help stabilize estrogen. Opt for warming foods like soups and stews during this time as well. (Our favorite soup is a creamy miso soup with coconut milk.)

Period cravings are normal and common. You don’t need to ignore them or beat yourself up because you have them. Honor your cravings! Work with your body instead of against it, and listen to what your body wants. Try healthier alternatives sometimes and don’t be too hard on yourself during your period.












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