Period cravings – what to eat and how to survive them

Published on October 28, 2020 by Cori Grămescu

We’ve all had them, they’re normal, and you can make some food choices to cope better with your requirements. To make things clear, it’s absolutely normal to crave different foods in the days before the menstrual period.

If the discomfort is severe and it lasts more than 7-10 days, it’s not a bad idea to go see a doctor and a hormonal balance specialist. Some conditions (like PCOS or hypothyroidism for example) may have quite an impact in the intensity of your PMS, but happily the symptoms can be eased with dietary changes and treatment.

Different food preferences

The hormones estrogen and progesterone have high variations in the days before the menstrual flow starts, and this usually makes us all feel moody, bloated, craving carbs (sweet and/or salty) and sometimes tired, nauseous or with a migraine or low back pain.

So, like I said, craving carbs in the days preceding the period is absolutely normal. Choosing the right mix of healthy, tasty and nutritionally balancing foods and occasional treats will help you navigate the PMS days gracefully, without killing anyone (joke). If we eat too much, there is a way to cope with this as well.

Making a balance between wants and needs

On the objective side, in the premenstrual days (known as luteal phase of the cycle) your body needs green leafy vegetables, sesame and pumpkin seeds, lots of fibers to fight the infamous PMS bloating and gas that you can find in legumes, vegetables, whole cereals, fruits and dried fruits . You should avoid stimulants (caffeine and alcohol), reduce the salt to avoid feeling even more bloated and try to limit sugary foods and refined carbs.

Here’s a daily menu sample so that you know how your food should look like to ease the PMS symptoms.

  • Breakfast – Rye bread with sardines’ pâté and red bell peppers
  • Morning snack – Grapes with pumpkin seeds
  • Lunch – Black rice and zucchini risotto, mixed green salad and pan-seared veal liver
  • Evening snack – Chickpeas and baked beets hummus with Belgian endives
  • Dinner – Caramelized carrots with oven baked mackerel

Healthier foods

If you crave sweets, opt for fruit smoothies with psyllium and cereals, sweetened with dates. They have a larger volume compared to cookies and other sweets, fewer calories, more fiber and are packed with vitamins and minerals. You may want to include sweeter fruits, such as mango, bananas and persimmons and opt for naturally gluten free cereals, such as millet and buckwheat flakes.

If you crave chocolate and chocolate desserts, you can make a hot cocoa drink that will curb your chocolate crave AND ease the PMS symptoms. Use 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, 2 cups of coconut milk, 3 teaspoons of organic cocoa, 1-2 teaspoons of honey and you can season with vanilla, cinnamon and clove to taste. Heat the coconut oil and milk, add the honey and the spices, and then add the cocoa, mixing gently. You can add some dark chocolate, melting in the warm milk. Its taste is amazing, and it will help you navigate the chocolate crave without feeling frustrated.

If you crave salted simple carbs, such as French fries and pasta or pizza, you can always use an air fryer to make the potatoes using just a tablespoon of oil, or you can make potato chips baked in the oven, using baking paper and some oil spray. You can also replace the traditional wheat pasta with lentil or chickpeas pasta (it’s surprisingly similar as taste and texture, unlike rice or gluten free pasta and has a fraction of the calories found in wheat pasta). If it’s pizza you crave, opt for a lighter, vegetable packed version with whole wheat dough and pair it with a green salad to nutritionally balance it.

Constant exercise is key

Each day you should do some mild exercise, such as low-impact aerobics, walking or static bodyweight workouts. It increases serotonin, reduces bloating, improves sleep and digestion.

Eating healthy, exercising constantly and sleeping well eases in a couple of months the PMS symptoms, so if you are confronted with severe symptoms try the dairy-free meal plan from yummdiet.com to start feeling better.

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