An unexpected period isn’t much fun for most of us, but there are a few telltale signs we can look out for to prepare us for our periods: major mood swings, breakouts, and in particular, feeling hungry. The PMS hunger is real – in fact, we think if our period could speak it would say “feed me!”. We all know the frantic and endless hunt for snacks all too well. If you’ve ever thought “why am I so hungry before my period?”, read on – we’ve got the answers.
Why does your period make you hungry?
Increased hunger before or during your period is completely normal. There are a number of reasons why, including changes in your hormone levels, mood, and metabolism.
Let’s break these key reasons down a little:
In the week before your period, you might feel more hungry due to changes in your hormones. You will have increased levels of progesterone and decreased levels of oestrogen. Oestrogen can have the effect of supressing your appetite, while progesterone is linked to an increase in appetite. When you’re ovulating, your oestrogen levels are at their highest and they begin to fall in the lead up to your period. Progesterone levels peak right before you start a period, which could explain why you’re so hungry before your period.
When you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable, it’s common to find comfort in food – especially sweet foods and carbohydrates (we’ll take a big bowl of pasta followed by a hearty slice of cake please!). Leading up to and during your period, it’s normal to feel more emotional than usual. Intense feelings are one way to feel that PMS is ruling your life. If you’re an emotional eater, this may cause you to feel more hungry on your period.
Changes to your metabolism
Right before your period starts, your body’s metabolic rate increases – meaning your body can need up to 350 extra calories to see you through the week leading up to your period. Your body works hard in the luteal and menstrual phases of your cycle, and your increased appetite before your period is proof of it.
How to deal with period hunger
Now you know why you get so hungry before and during your period, here are some ideas of how to deal with always feeling hungry:
Adjust your diet to your menstrual cycle
Throughout your entire menstrual cycle, the changes in your hormones, mood and metabolism mean what your body needs will change. By eating foods that fit your menstrual phases, you can give your body exactly the right stuff, regardless of whether you’re ovulating, PMSing or at the end of your period.
Honour your PMS hunger
If you’re feeling extra hungry the week before your period – eat more! When you feel hungry, that’s your body communicating that it needs fuel. Listen to what your body is telling you and eat when you’re hungry. If you also experience specific cravings, that can be your body looking for a boost in a particular nutrient it’s lacking. So, eat exactly when and what you want without guilt.
Eat to ease your cramps
When cramps set in it’s easy to binge. You might want to eat anything edible in sight in the hopes of making you feel better – but sometimes what’s important isn’t how much you’re eating, but what you’re eating. These nine foods help to reduce period cramps and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
Do you feel hungrier before and during your period? Tell us how you cope with period hunger in the comments!