Full disclosure: This blog was drafted in writer’s head on a walk to coffee shop for decaf skim latte to avoid office birthday cake temptation!
As rational women, here is what we know. We know that diet is critical to mitigating PMS symptoms. By eating small meals throughout the day to avoid extreme hunger and by choosing vegetables and lean protein, we can fill our bodies with the food it needs to maintain balanced blood sugar and avoid food cravings.
But food cravings are powerful and fluctuating hormones can sometimes be hard to overcome. During our PMS days, stress hormone, cortisol, can spike and feel-good hormone, serotonin, drops. What temporarily boosts serotonin? Carbohydrates boost serotonin. And the problem is that we crave the most fat and sugar filled carbohydrates during stressful and emotional times of the month.
We asked for coping strategies from a sampling of women and here are their answers.
- Taking a walk and sipping on a warm beverage are two coping strategies. Both light exercise and caffeine can provide a boost. If you are stressed out, go easy on the caffeine because you really don’t need a boost, you need the Zen affect of sipping something warm and soothing. A dusting of chocolate or cinnamon to the top of a latte or cappuccino provides a dessert type flavor to the coffee, satisfying a sweet tooth for some.
- Chew gum. Sugarless grape bubble gum was the respondent’s choice for a sweet pick me up, but mint or bubble gum flavors are also fine.
- Have a conversation with yourself to understand the craving. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or are you bored? Are you eating your emotions and is there something else you could do instead (take a walk, pick up your knitting, write in a journal) to work through the emotions?
- Make a satisfying substitution. One respondent said that she eats a few dark chocolate covered almonds versus a candy bar and rationalizes it by saying that the almonds are healthier than a candy bar from the vending machine. Plus, it satisfies the craving for chocolate.
Here is a little secret that most women don’t know, your metabolism revs up during your PMS days. It is Mother Nature’s little offset for those PMS food cravings! Try to bust through cravings by distracting yourself or substituting a healthier option, but forgive yourself and move on if you find yourself in a miserable mood finishing a bag of chips.