Any woman who’s had a period knows that when your time of the month comes around, the cravings usually come out to play.
When you’re suffering with stomach cramps and breakouts, all you want is to indulge in a tasty sugary treat to distract you from your misery. Enter: chocolate.
While many of us keep an emergency stash of chocolate ready for when disaster strikes, how many of us are actually aware of why we crave chocolate on our periods?
Melanie McGrice, an advanced accredited practising dietician from Australia, has published a blog post explaining the various avenues researchers have explored to try to figure out this chocolatey conundrum.
Many people believe that it all bottles down to the hormonal imbalances that occur during the menstrual cycle.
As your progesterone and oestrogen levels drop at the beginning of your period, this causes you to become more hungry.
Your serotonin levels also drop, while at the same time your cortisol levels are steadily on the rise.
The reduction of your feel-good hormone paired with the increase of your stress hormone makes you crave sugary foods, so that you can boost your serotonin levels once again and cheer yourself up.
Despite many people being convinced by this theory, McGrice admits that there is no definitive evidence that hormone imbalances actually play a part in influencing your menstrual chocolate cravings.
With that in mind, researchers decided to delve into the possible psychological reasons behind your monthly need for chocolate.
McGrice cited a 2004 study, in which the chocolate cravings of Spanish and American women were compared.
Many of the American women specifically chose their menstrual cycle as the most likely time that they would feel a desire to eat chocolate.
On the other hand, a number of the Spanish women said that they craved chocolate around dinnertime or while working, as opposed to during their time of the month.
This is why people have now been led to believe that chocolate cravings are induced by cues that we’ve taught ourselves.
A lot of women associate their periods with eating chocolate, which is why they now automatically crave it either before or during the menstrual cycle.
“After reviewing the current research, I believe that craving chocolate before our period is a mixture of physiology, psychology and cultural conditioning,” McGrice concluded.
“Our hormonal changes during the days leading up to your menstrual cycle leave us feeling stressed and tired, which we try to eradicate by indulging in our favourite comfort foods.
“This ends up creating a cycle by which we crave high fat and sugar foods when we get our period every month.”
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