For anyone who’s ever wondered why they eat five times more than normal just before their period – and all of it unhealthy carbs and sugar? There’s finally proof that it’s not just you.
A study published in the journal Annals of Endocrinology has found that in the days before their period, women eat an extra 500 calories a day. And that doesn’t mean an extra avocado or two either – according to the Tunisian researchers, women tend to crave carbohydrates – for which read a giant bowl of pasta smothered in cheese.
The change in diet seems to come from our fluctuating serotonin levels, which can dip before menstruation and lead to mood swings (PMS anyone?). Carbohydrates are known to promote serotonin release, so women can crave them when they want to feel happier.
“This could be explained by the change in ovarian hormone levels during the menstrual cycle,” said the researchers. “During the luteal phase [the stage of a woman’s cycle after ovulation but before bleeding starts], when both oestrogen and progesterone increase, food intake increases, specifically sweet foods – in the follicular phase, with only increased oestrogen levels, food intake seems to decrease.”
In other words, this is hard scientific proof that when you’re on your period, your cravings for chocolate, cake and apple pie are all down to biology. It is your body’s natural way of trying to replace serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ – and it is just another part of the menstrual cycle.
The academics involved in this particular study monitored 30 women, finding they put on an average of 0.3kg weight in the days before their period – but they called for further research. You can see why. It has taken this long for us to realise there’s a biological reason why women eat more before their period starts – it’s not just a stereotype. With some more brain power behind the menstrual cycle, who knows what else we might find out.