This Is Why Women Feel More Hungry Around Their Period

This Is Why Women Feel More Hungry Around Their Period
It happens every single month, without fail. You start to feel moody, low and irritable, and you notice a big increase in hunger (and your cravings for chocolate and ice cream). And when you finally get your period, all you can think about is getting into your PJs and eating more comfort food.
For most women, these sudden changes in appetite and mood are normal, something we listen and adapt to. But why do we feel more hungry around our period, really?
We automatically think it has everything to do with hormones, but it’s actually much more than that.
“There’s certainly some evidence that women do get hungrier and crave sugar and sweet things, primarily chocolate. Leading up to their period in the premenstrual or luteal phase of their cycle.” Dr Clare Ballingall, a GP and chair of RACGP Tasmania, told The Huffington Post Australia.
There are many theories as to why this happens, Ballingall said.

“We do know the hormone changes that occur, so oestrogen and progesterone go up and then they drop off just before the period. And this is a theory for increased hunger,” Ballingall explained.
“The other thing is we know that women possibly become a bit more responsive to insulin in that premenstrual phase.  Some women can experience mild alterations in their blood sugar and cravings for chocolate. That’s a possible theory.
“Women also often get irritable and cranky premenstrually, and there’s a theory that somehow eating chocolate increases serotonin and dopamine. Which are involved with helping ‘prop up’ mood.”
Nutritionist Pip Reed agrees, saying that the occurrence of PMS or PMT symptoms can lead us to reach for foods which boost our energy and mood.
“Often this hunger is for more carb and sugar heavy foods as we may find the rise in oestrogen increases PMS symptoms. So we’re therefore looking for foods that will give us a quick energy boost,” Reed told HuffPost Australia.
“Interestingly, the main paper I looked at, which had the most women involved in, there was no increase in cravings for salt and fast food in that same period. Women eat more leading up to that period, and they sleep less, which is interesting,” Ballingall added.

Beyond physiological reasons for increased hunger around menstruation, Ballingall also said there are psychological and cultural factors at play here.
Psychology Today theorised that culturally we’ve reinforced chocolate as being a way to deal with stress, through media and subliminal advertising,” Ballingall said.
“They suggested that in a society we, as women, are told to avoid fat and sugar. And that we’re all guilted into having this certain body type image and we must maintain that.
“But somehow it’s culturally acceptable for one time a month to just let yourself go and reward yourself with chocolate. As you’re feeling a bit crap because it’s your period. Culturally we accept that, where any other time of the month it’s unacceptable to binge on chocolate.”
There’s also the fact that treating ourselves to chocolate, cosying up in bed with a feel-good movie, really does make us feel good. We’re allowing ourselves to relax and indulge in foods we often ban or restrict ourselves of.
“Absolutely. Chocolate makes you feel good, that’s a proven thing. That melting feeling in your mouth, the sugar hit, the energy hit,” Ballingall said.
Given that women make up around 50 percent of the world’s population. There is surprisingly little scientific research into women’s health issues surrounding the menstrual cycle.
“There’s not actually a lot of journal work done around this area suggesting why this happens, which I think is remarkable,” Ballingall said.

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