Are PMS Cravings Ruining Your Diet?

A week before your menstrual cycle, you notice a small pouch forming despite your best efforts at the gym. Some women even start experiencing cramping three days prior to the beginning of their cycle. What’s worse, they start craving all sorts of really delicious (and unhealthy) foods and will put on approximately 2 to 3 pounds of weight during this period. This number can be higher or lower depending on each individual. Some have argued that the so-called “PMS cravings” can be attributed to a woman making excuses for her poor eating habits…much like they blame their change in behavior on this time of the month.

So what’s the deal? Are PMS cravings real? And if so, are these cravings ruining your diet?

The Science

Cravings leading up to or lasting throughout your cycle ARE real. There are many theories as to why women begin to crave food during this time of the month. However, most scientists can agree that low progesterone and high estrogen levels spark a drop in blood sugar. It’s the drop in blood sugar levels that triggers a signal to a woman’s brain telling her to eat something sugary because this will quickly return blood sugar levels to normal. What’s worse is the sugary snack is not true nourishment and will not maintain normal blood sugar levels for a sustained period, therefore the woman may experience the same cravings multiple times a day! Thus sabotaging her healthy eating efforts!!!!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s another reason for PMS cravings…low serotonin levels. I know what you’re thinking – Ugh ANN, there’s something else that’s causing my cravings? What in the heck is serotonin?! I’m glad you asked! It’s the “feel good” chemical that is released in your body and tells you that everything is peachy. Without this chemical, you’d feel like Debbie Doom and Gloom all the days of your life. Unfortunately, not only does our cycle cause us to have cramps, it also lowers our “feel good” chemicals. Our bodies use carbohydrates to increase serotonin levels and before you know it, you are eating a bag of UTZ potato chips and feeling MUCH better. However, this is not without adding on a few extra pounds and not satisfying your cravings for nearly long enough.

I use to think to myself, why doesn’t anyone ever crave a salad. Now we know!

The Solution

Your cravings will never go away, but there are ways you can fight back! Here are three tips that should help you fight weight gain and those insane cravings:

  • Move Your Body! – It’s well documented that exercise is known for increasing the body’s endorphins (another “feel good” chemical) and increases blood flow throughout your body. Squeeze in a workout routine or even walk the dogs if your cramps make you grouchy.
  • Eat Six Small Meals a Day – This works for most diet plans and the intention is to keep you feeling full and your blood sugar levels within a normal range to reduce cravings.
  • Eat Carbs of the Complex Variety – Complex carbs take a really long time to absorb in your body, leaving you full for longer and providing your body with much needed serotonin (chemical “feel good”). Eating whole grains cereals and fruit should do the trick…and don’t forget to add some starchy veggies in as well!

To learn more about to combat cravings, visit WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is-pms-sabotaging-your-diet?page=2.

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