Health What causes PMS cravings and what can you do about them?

01:57  13 february  2018
01:57  13 february  2018 Source:

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  What causes PMS cravings and what can you do about them? © Shutterstock Prone to junk food cravings at a certain time each month? Here's what might be happening inside your body.

While women are forced to take menstruation in their stride, Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison tells Coach that having a period is actually a big load on the body — so it's little wonder many of us feel out of sorts and may experience cravings.

"We're literally shedding a whole lining of our body and there are big hormonal changes happening," she says.

"Whenever the body does anything like that, it is a big challenge for the body to gear up."

One study found that women with higher oestrogen levels also had higher levels of the hunger hormone leptin and stronger cravings for sweet foods.

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What causes cramps? Menstrual cramps can be really uncomfortable and painful, but they do happen for a reason. Physical symptoms of PMS include: Craving certain foods or being more hungry than usual. Tender, swollen, or sore breasts.

What’s up with that?! I chose to write about cravings as I’ve experienced them in an extreme form just a month ago. Being dehydrated can cause you to feel hunger. If you are craving something, you could drink a large glass of water first.

Yet other researchers have suggested that it's not so much the hormones that are driving the cravings — rather, it could be that women give themselves permission to indulge at that time of month.

"It could be a learned type thing," Dr Davison points out.

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Researchers do not know exactly what causes PMS . Studies show that calcium can help reduce some PMS symptoms, such as fatigue, cravings , and depression.24 , 25 Calcium is found in foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.

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We know that our environment plays a big role in cravings, and another study found women reported chocolate cravings whenever they saw chocolate, regardless of the time of their cycle.

So if the 35 uni students involved in that study are representative of us all, it seems that we would be better off steering clear of the lolly aisle than worrying about whether our hormones are making us binge.

Naturopath Andrea Strand, who specialises in period pain, tells Coach that we probably have cravings to support mood shifts, as a result of shifting progesterone and oestrogen levels.

"Chocolate has caffeine, which has an effect on dopamine, which is our motivation and 'zest for life' brain chemical," she explains.

"So if you're premenstrual and feeling crappy, you want to feel a bit better so reach for chocolate."

If you are having strong cravings, Strand says it could be your body's way of telling you something. Here's how:

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message boards is, “What do I do about PMS cravings when I’m trying so hard to eat clean?” So no, you ’re not alone! These symptoms are very real, and they ’re related to hormonal shifts that occur This stimulates appetite, and causes cravings for carbs and fat, the two things that support and fuel

What causes this? One culprit is having too much body fat—more fat means more leptin is produced. My cravings definitely go UP when I’m PMS ’g. My body craves chocolate and now I understand why. This is GREAT information Kris.

If you're craving sugar

Almost 50 percent of American women say they crave chocolate in the lead-up to their period and in the first days after they get it.

Strand says that sugar cravings usually occur if you have an unbalanced blood sugar level or are deficient in chromium or magnesium.

"Those two nutrients are required by the cell to take up sugar," she explains.

"So if you're low in those nutrients, then sugar is not getting inside the cells as efficiently and you can start to get sugar cravings."

Good sources of chromium include nuts, seeds, buckwheat, broccoli and peas.

As for magnesium, Strand says it often depletes when we are stressed, which could be a result of feeling a bit out-of-sorts in the lead-up to and during your period.

"We go for quick sugary foods because we need a quick energy boost, which depletes our magnesium levels even more and it creates a whole cycle,” she says. “You would be better off having some raw cacao, which is rich in magnesium."

Bananas, soybeans and tuna are all sources of magnesium.

If you're craving salt

It's not specifically to do with your hormonal cycle, but if you are craving salt, Strand says it could be a symptom of adrenal fatigue.

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Table of contents. Stress. Lack of sleep. Boredom. Excessive sweating. Premenstrual syndrome ( PMS ). Addison's disease. Bartter syndrome. Outlook. Anyone who has ever eaten a large serving of chips, popcorn, or french fries knows that salt cravings can be hard to resist.

What You 're Actually Craving : Happiness, energy. Sugar can cause our brains to release serotonin — a chemical which makes us feel relaxed and plays a role in regulating mood. (This also explains the stereotype of women being obsessed with chocolate while dealing with PMS .

"Cortisol is your awake hormone but in high amounts, it's your stress hormone," she explains.

"Cortisol is needed for our survival so when we've been stressed for a long period of time, it starts to rob another hormone called aldosterone, which is called our 'salt saver'. It causes us to excrete more salt than we should so we can start to crave salts more."

If you have salt cravings, Strand suggests having mineralised salts and seeing a naturopath for herbs and nutrients to support your adrenal glands.

If you get really drunk

Recent research suggests women are much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when their oestrogen levels are higher, which is usually around mid-cycle.

So if you've found yourself getting tipsy, it could be worth marking it in your calendar and seeing if there is a pattern, and perhaps being designated driver when you're approaching ovulation.

"Women who manage to eat well and exercise pretty consistently throughout the cycle, do best," Dr Davison points out.

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