You’re bloated, weepy, and craving all the nom noms. Looks like it’s time for Aunt Flo’s monthly visit! And what better way to prepare for a guest than to stock up on snacks, right?
But the real question is, why are PMS cravings a thing? Here’s the lowdown.
PMS craving fast facts
PMS cravings are usually triggered by hormonal fluctuations that happen before your period. These cravings can also be caused by:
- mood changes
- irregular periods
- vitamin or mineral deficiencies
Is it all in your head? Well, sorta. You can probably blame PMS cravings on your hormone levels, which fluctuate like cray throughout your monthly cycle. This fluctuation can spark your hungry hankerings.
One study found that estradiol, a form of estrogen, was connected to carb cravings, and progesterone was linked to sweetened beverage cravings, which might also explain your pre-period snack attacks.
Plus, PMS can be a super emotional time! Wanting to fill up on your fave foods is totally normal.
Can’t stop, won’t stop
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 14 percent of folks who menstruate get irregular periods. One study suggested that irregular periods can make you more prone to binge eating.
A 2010 study showed that pre-period cravings or compulsive eating might also result from PMS’s more severe sister, premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
PMS and pregnancy can cause equally intense and interesting food cravings. Pickles and ice cream, anyone? But there are different symptoms to look out for.
Pregnant peeps may experience symptoms that aren’t caused by PMS. These can include:
- a missed period
- food aversions
- intense nausea
- nipple changes, like a larger or darker areola
Pregnancy PSA: The only way to be sure your eggo is preggo is to take a pregnancy test.
The joys of PMS typically begin 5 to 11 days before your period kicks off. Your cravings will prob stop when the crimson wave starts or shortly after that.
In addition to cravings, you might also experience:
- mood swings
- changes in your poo habits
Keep in mind, everyone is different. Your PMS symptoms might last for a day or a week, or you might not have any symptoms at all.
It’s A-OK to give in to your menstrual munchies, as long as you aren’t overindulging regularly. If your cravings for chocolate seem to be strong right before your period, go ahead and enjoy a piece.
Wondering why your taste buds are happy but the rest of you feels crappy? Too much of a tasty thing, like salt, carbs, or refined sugar, can leave you feeling dizzy, tired, and bloated.
Portion control can help keep you on the up-and-up. You’ll stave off cravings without feeling yucky after your yummies.
Even though occasionally enjoying tasty foods like chocolate or salty chips won’t negatively impact your health, it’s best to reach for nutrient-dense foods when you’re hungry so that you can fuel your body in a healthy way.
Good news: You don’t need to quit carbs! You just need to pick the right ones.
Carbs increase serotonin levels in your body. But the good feelings only last a hot minute when you snack on simple carbs. Soon, you’ll be back to that blah feeling.
Pairing a fiber-rich carb with a protein is a great way to increase the satiation factor of a meal or snack. Instead of reaching for snacks with a lot of simple carbs, like cookies or crackers, try one of the following combos:
- apple slices with natural peanut butter
- whole grain crackers dipped in guacamole
- Greek yogurt with berries, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate chips
The PMS sweet tooth is real. But indulging in too much sweet stuff can lead to a major energy crash.
Rather than risk a sugar hangover, swap your sweet treats with something healthier and more filling. Some great options include:
- trail mix
- smoothies made with a protein source
- energy bites
- yogurt with fresh fruit
- apple slices topped with almond butter and a drizzle of honey
Now, we’re not saying you need to avoid sweets altogether. Whew! Go ahead and enjoy that cookie, brownie, slice of cake, ice cream, or *insert your top treat here.* Just be sure to enjoy them in moderation.
Do you ever dream of being set loose in Wonka’s chocolate factory? We can’t blame you! That chocolate river was dope AF. Plus, chocolate is one of the most common PMS cravings. A review of studies showed that almost 50 percent of American women crave chocolate before their period.
One easy way to satisfy your chocolate craving is by switching to dark chocolate. A little can go a long way. Plus, dark chocolate is high in minerals and antioxidants.
PMS is an emotional roller coaster. One moment you’re laughing and enjoying life, the next you’re literally crying over spilled milk.
Changes in your mood — especially feelings of sadness or irritation — are common right before your period and can sometimes even last a few days into it.
It’s totally cool to let it out and feel all the feels. But you know what else is cool? Supporting your emotional health. Finding ways to boost your levels of happiness-inducing hormones, like endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, can help keep your mood on an upswing.
Ways to pump up your mood
- Snuggle your pet (or stuffed animal — no judgment).
- Jam out to your fave feel-good tunes.
- Watch a movie you love.
- Chat with a loved one.
- Go for a walk or run.
- Have sex.
Pre-period hunger and cravings are normal and usually nothing to worry about. But certain situations can signal underlying issues.
You should talk to your doctor if your cravings:
- cause you stress or anxiety
- cause significant weight gain
- persist throughout the month
- affect your performance at work or school
- are used to cope with anxiety, depression, or stress
- impact your treatment or recovery from an eating disorder
What if my cravings aren’t for food?
You should also see your doc if you’re craving nonfood items. These cravings could be a sign of a condition called pica. It’s more common in kiddos or in people who are pregnant.
Pica can also develop as a result of certain health conditions. For example, craving things like dirt, clay, paper, or ice may be a symptom of an iron deficiency.
Having a major case of PMS munchies is completely normal. There’s no shame in enjoying a lil extra somethin’ somethin’ once in a while. But to avoid a sugar slump or carb crash, try to indulge in moderation or choose healthier options when you can.
And as always, listen to your body. It may be trying to tell you something. PMS cravings are usually a result of changing hormone levels and are harmless. But if you think an underlying issue may be at play, talk to your doctor.