So, I have experienced this myself and I have been asked this question many time – why do I feel like I am starving to death when I have my period? I often hear things like “I was PMSing and couldn’t stop eating” or “I always binge on chocolate right before I get my period”
I totally know the feeling. I’m absolutely ravenous around my period and all carbs in sight should probably take cover. Hormones, I tell you!
Well I am here to tell you today that this is NORMAL. Yes, you can feel like a hungry beast during that time of the month.
Increased appetite is one of the most common symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Right before your period starts, your hormone levels shift dramatically which can increase your appetite or give you food cravings for certain things – some ladies find that they eat more carbs when they are on their periods and others crave fat or salt.
The reason for this increase in hunger is actually very simple – your body uses more calories during the time right before and in some cases during your period which in turn makes your body burn more calories during this time, and as the calories as burning you’re going to feel hungry more often. To top it off the hormones in your body are also likely making you crave particular food items. So suddenly, you’re starving, you already feel bloated from water weight and now you want to eat chocolate and chips.
This extra work burns more calories and your BMR actually goes up. In some women, the week of your period can make you burn up to fifteen percent more calories, and you haven’t changed a single thing about your lifestyle!
So, I can confidently say you are not alone with the hunger thing. But because it is not a good thing for you to be eating 24/7, and let’s say for example I want nachos (because I love them). I try to trick my stomach to still feel happy and full. Have you ever taken your favorite snack and downgraded it to something that isn’t as bad? Last month, I went to get some low-fat/salt nachos chips, fat-free sour cream, salsa, low-fat cheese and had a good ol’ time! Just consider ways to have your favorite snack and still enjoy it
You may also find it helpful to eat small, frequent and balanced meals before and during your period. Complex carbohydrates and protein will give you the most energy and satisfaction.
Staying hydrated is also very helpful, and can help you feel full.
Also, taking calcium and vitamin D supplements prior to your period can make a difference in PMS symptoms, including food cravings.
While a sleeve of Oreo Cookies with a side of Wavy Lay’s Potato Chips sound amazing at the time (my weakness!), try to snack on healthier things like fruit or veggies. It’s totally okay to indulge every now and then, but trust me, you’ll feel better in the long run if you’re making wiser choices when it comes to food.
Plus BONUS – if you can prevent your appetite from getting the best of you by eating filling foods without many extra calories such as lean protein and vegetables, when your BMR goes up, as it does the days before your period, you’re burning some extra calories. If you fend off the desire to shove junk in your face this week, you can actually burn off more calories instead of consuming them without doing a single extra thing!!! UM HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!
Lastly, I want to add that if the cravings feel emotional, see if you can find other non-caloric ways to lift your mood: take a walk in a beautiful place, schedule a massage, take a yoga class, see a funny movie, or call a favorite friend.
Make sure to get plenty of sleep. Being under-rested can powerfully increase appetite and cravings.