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Why Do You Get Cravings on Your Period?



5 min read

Why Do You Get Cravings on Your Period? Photo

by Team Thinx | 12/30/2023

Hormones and cravings inevitably accompany our menstrual cycle. It's a topic that's often shrouded in myths and mystery. Are period cravings real? Do they actually have a scientific basis? 

We’ll explore the fascinating interplay of hormones and biology and uncover the secrets behind those sudden yearnings for specific foods that many of us experience during this time. It's a journey through the inner workings of our bodies, a narrative written in the language of neurotransmitters and hormonal fluctuations. Let's unravel the enigma of period cravings and discover the science behind this.

definition of period cravings

Before we dive into the timeline of these cravings, let's first set the stage. Period cravings, quite simply, are those sudden, often intense desires for certain types of food that many individuals experience before, during, or after their menstrual period.

These cravings are not mere whims of the palate; they're a complex interplay of biology and psychology. They might lead you to reach for that indulgent piece of chocolate, salty snacks, or the soothing warmth of a bowl of creamy soup. They're the whispers of your body's unique needs during this cyclical journey. While they may sometimes feel like enigmatic cravings for specific treats, they are, in fact, your body's way of communicating its nutritional requirements during the menstrual cycle. Let's unravel the deeper layers that come with it.

when do period cravings begin? 

Your menstrual cycle sets the stage for period cravings, driven by hormones and biological rhythms. Recognizing when these cravings emerge is critical to deciphering the initial cues of this phenomenon. From early PMS signs to post-menstruation surprises, each phase unveils its distinct and specific food cravings.

PMS symptoms

In the days leading up to your period, you might notice a shift in your cravings. This is often due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the premenstrual phase. The hormonal balance of estrogen and progesterone takes center stage during this time. Estrogen levels gradually rise, only to plummet in the days just before your period. Meanwhile, progesterone steadily climbs. These hormonal shifts can send your neurotransmitters into a bit of a frenzy, impacting your mood and appetite.

It's not uncommon to find yourself reaching for that extra square of dark chocolate, some salty food, or craving a warm bowl of soup for comfort. Your body, in its wisdom, might be signaling a need for specific nutrients. Embracing these cravings with mindful choices can be a way to nourish both body and soul during this phase of your menstrual cycle.

onset of menstruation

As your period begins, so does the potential for cravings. You may find yourself yearning for specific foods, particularly those that offer comfort or a surge of energy. This phase typically lasts from the start of menstruation until its completion.

The surge of hormones during menstruation can lead to changes in your serotonin levels, impacting your mood and appetite. These cravings are not merely whims; they are your body's way of communicating its needs, whether for comfort, energy, or specific nutrients.

post-period cravings

Surprisingly, cravings can linger even after your period is over. Some speculate that this might be due to the body's efforts to replenish nutrients lost during menstruation. This phase can extend for a few days following the end of your period. Embracing these post-period cravings with balanced and nourishing choices can be a way to support your body's recovery and replenishment process.

are period cravings a figment of imagination?

Let's address the age-old question: are period cravings a real thing or just a result of an overactive imagination? Rest assured, they're as real as the changing tides of your hormonal levels. Hormonal shifts in progesterone and estrogen can directly impact your neurotransmitters, leading to changes in mood and appetite. The scientific evidence firmly establishes that period cravings are not whims, but rather a tangible and natural response to the ebb and flow of your hormonal landscape.

dispelling misconceptions about period cravings

Let's clear up a few misconceptions. Period cravings are not just “weak willpower.” They are a legitimate physiological response to hormonal fluctuations. So, let’s banish any guilt associated with period food cravings or that sudden desire for some velvety dark chocolate.

Here's a closer look at some common misconceptions about period cravings:

  1. lack of discipline: Period cravings are often unfairly labeled as a lack of discipline or self-control. In reality, they are rooted in the complex interplay of hormones and neurotransmitters, influencing your body's signals for specific nutrients.

  2. indulgence in unhealthy foods: It's a myth that period cravings only lead to indulging in unhealthy, calorie-laden treats. In that case, are you wondering, “Why do I crave carbs on my period?” While there may be a preference for comfort foods, carb cravings can also signal a need for essential nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D.

  3. psychological weakness: Associating cravings with psychological weakness is a misconception. It's important to recognize that your body's nutrient requirements fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, and cravings are a natural response to these shifts.

  4. uniform cravings: Not all people experience the same cravings, and they can vary greatly from person to person. Some may crave sweet treats, while others lean towards savory or carb-rich options. This diversity is a testament to the unique biology of each individual.

  5. inevitability of unhealthy choices: While cravings can lead to indulging in treats, it's entirely possible to make balanced, nutritious choices that align with your body's needs. Opting for nutrient-dense alternatives can satisfy your cravings while providing essential vitamins and minerals.

Acknowledging and understanding your cravings is an essential step towards embracing your body's natural rhythms. It's a testament to the intricate dialogue between your body and its nutritional requirements. The next time a craving strikes, view it not as a weakness, but as a signal from your body, prompting you to nourish and care for yourself in a way that only you truly understand.

why period cravings occur

Now, let's dive into the hormonal interplay that explains why period cravings occur. It's a fascinating phenomenon, driven by two essential hormones: progesterone and estrogen. Their intricate interaction not only shapes biological processes but also plays a significant role in your emotional experience, providing the foundation for those intriguing cravings.

progesterone and estrogen

During the premenstrual phase, as levels of progesterone and estrogen rise and fall, they influence your brain's neurotransmitters. This can lead to a cascade of changes in mood and appetite. Progesterone, often associated with calmness, can also stimulate your appetite, while estrogen's fluctuations may influence your sensitivity to certain tastes and textures. 

serotonin levels

Serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, can experience fluctuations during your menstrual cycle. When levels dip, it can trigger cravings for comfort foods rich in carbohydrates. This is your body's way of seeking a natural mood boost. Indulging in a small, balanced dose of complex carbs can provide that gentle lift, offering a sense of comfort and well-being during this phase.

blood sugar levels

The ebb and flow of blood sugar levels can influence hunger and explain why you crave sweets on your period. Low blood sugar levels may lead to a craving for sweets, while a drop in energy levels might prompt a desire for quick, high-energy snacks. Your body seeks to restore balance and energy, and cravings can be its way of signaling those needs. Understanding these cues allows you to respond in a way that nurtures both body and mind.

how to manage period food cravings

As you navigate the waves of hormonal fluctuations, it's empowering to know that you have tools at your disposal to support your body's needs. By incorporating mindful practices and making informed dietary choices, you can ride the tide of cravings and nourish your body in a way that honors its natural rhythms. Here are some practices you can try when navigating period cravings with intention and care:

  1. balanced diet: Opt for a balanced mix of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins to stabilize blood sugar levels.

  2. mindful eating: Practice mindful consumption, savoring each bite, and paying attention to your body's hunger and satiety signals.

  3. hydration: Stay well-hydrated to maintain optimal bodily functions and reduce the likelihood of mistaking thirst for hunger.

  4. incorporate nutrient-rich foods: Integrate foods rich in vitamins and minerals like dark leafy greens, fruits, and lean proteins.

  5. regular exercise: Work out on your period to regulate hormones and boost mood.

It's clear that understanding your body's signals during your menstrual cycle is the first step toward embracing the entire experience. What's equally important is providing yourself with the right support and comfort to navigate these hormonal fluctuations. That's where our range of innovative, comfortable, and inclusive products comes into play. At Thinx, we recognize that every person's journey through menstruation is unique, and we're here to ensure you have the support you need, no matter where you are in life.

For those transitioning into menstruation, our teen period underwear offers reliability and peace of mind during those first moments, and as you progress through different stages of life, our adult period underwear provides both comfort and style, ensuring you're covered during your entire cycle. Our commitment to a healthier menstrual experience doesn't stop there. We also offer incontinence solutions for those dealing with bladder leaks, because we believe in supporting you at every stage of life.

Whether you're managing period cravings, navigating the ups and downs of your cycle, or simply looking for comfortable and reliable period underwear, Thinx is here to accompany you on your journey. Your comfort, confidence, and well-being are at the heart of everything we do.


Healthline Media. Why You Want to Eat All the Things Before Your Period.

‌UPMC HealthBeat. Five Tips for Coping with PMS Cravings. 

Greatist. PMS Munchies Are Legit — Here’s Why.

by Team Thinx

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