Whacked-out PMS hormones have you ready to eat every piece of junk food in sight? If uncontrollable junk food eating sounds like the definition of delicious right before your period, blame it on your favorite hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The carb and sugar cravings that kick in 5 to 7 days before your period can be traced to fluctuations in hormone levels. Eating sweet or starchy foods will cause your brain to release the chemical serotonin, which gives you happy feelings. While it’s ok to indulge every once in a while, if you are trying hard to eat healthy, here are some tips to help battle the PMS food-fest.
Go for a longer mood boost
Eating too much salt leads to water retention and bloating. Keep an eye on how much salt you add to foods and remember that highly processed foods contain a lot of sodium. Eating too much sugar can cause an energy spike followed by a sharp decline that can leave you feeling even more moody, depressed or anxious. Look for alternatives. Healthier snacks should offer complex carbohydrates to boost blood sugar and energy. Your body may also be craving magnesium, which is why it’s craving sugar. You can combat the cravings with magnesium vitamin supplements, dark chocolate, avocado, whole grains, and more.
Eating simple carbs such as potato chips, bread, or pasta will increase serotonin and lift your mood for a short time, but too much will leave you feeling sluggish, and we all know that these foods are just not healthy. Add a protein or fat to your snack to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent the crash that comes when insulin kicks in to lower your blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates also elevate serotonin, but the impact lasts longer.
Chocolate is one of the most common foods women crave on their periods. Chocolate will satisfy your cravings and help you feel calmer by lowering your blood pressure. Just switch out those Hershey’s kisses for one ounce of almonds covered in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and minerals and loaded with health benefits. The almonds will go a long way toward relieving your stress because they contain healthy fats and protein.
Other healthy choices that can satisfy your sweet tooth:
Try an apple slice dipped in honey, a fruit smoothie, trail mix, or yogurt and fruit. Fruit is naturally sweet and contains lots of beneficial fiber. Eat fruits that are slightly higher in sugar like mangoes or grapes to get your fix. Yogurt is a healthy snack that’s high in protein and rich in calcium, which means it’s very filling and can help regulate your appetite and control your cravings.
Berries are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Their taste is sweet, but their high fiber content keeps them quite low in sugar. Dried dates are also highly nutritious and will help satisfy your need for dessert. They are a great source of fiber, potassium, and iron.
Have snack bags on hand
The key to satisfying your cravings without binging is portion control. Prepare yourself for success by keeping little snack bags on hand with just the right portions. If you’re not eating right out of the big bag, you won’t be tempted to keep on nibbling after the first fistful of chocolate-covered almonds.