I lovingly refer to the three days before my menstrual cycle starts as “the foodening.” Why? Because this time of the month all I can do is eat. I eat until I physically cannot eat anymore and I am still hungry. I am anxious about when I will get to eat again.
I need the food.
I must have food.
All the food.
It is something that I have tried to cope with my entire life. Some cycles are worse than others are, but there are times that I have gained 10 lbs. from this hormonally induced binge cycle. I started to wonder was I the only woman who suffered from these binges?
Many Women Eat During PMS
One study out of MIT monitored caloric intake of women in a premenstrual phase and also during normal days of the month. The results showed that women consumed a whopping extra 100 calories while premenstrual than at other times and those calories mainly consisted of unhealthy junk food, such as sweets, and carbs.
End The Binge
Like other women who have this PMS symptom I have wondered, many times, if there was any way I could stop it. The same Psychology today paper reported that the way to change this PMS symptom is to increase serotonin production in the brain.
Isn’t serotonin a basic brain chemical? How do I increase it?
It can be as simple as eating a starchy or sweet carbohydrate snack that contains 30-35 grams of carbohydrate twice a day. These snacks should have no more than 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. The protein will stop serotonin from being produced, and the fat will just add calories.
Some PMS craving killers that meet this nutritional benchmark:
• Fat-free chocolate sauce
• Sweet breakfast cereal
• Graham crackers
• Low-fat meringue cookies
• Cotton candy
While alcohol is a carbohydrate that contains no protein and no fat, it is not a substitute for carbohydrate. It will not help you produce serotonin. In addition, alcohol lowers inhibition, which will lead to more indulgences. PMS Comfort recommends that you avoid alcohol altogether to avoid this temptation.
Alcohol can offset already unstable hormone chemicals. If you are trying to increase serotonin production through food, you do not want to go in and mess it all up by giving your body a bunch of alcohol to metabolize. Alcohol affects blood sugar and insulin levels along with many other hormones. It is best to avoid it if you are trying to get rid of PMS.
Keep The Junk Out
The best thing you can do is to keep the junk food out of the house. Healthline recommends that you not even keep it in the house. This is especially true if your binges are due to an emotional eating element rather than purely hormonal. If you don’t have junk food in your house, you will be much less likely to eat it. Let’s face it, are you really going to drive to the grocery store for that box of Oreo cookies at 11:30 at night?
Typically the answer is no.
Emotional eating can go up during your PMS because of the heightened stress response that many of us feel during this time of the month. If you are having a hard time with your emotional eating, try practicing some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, getting more sleep and meditation. All of these techniques can help you manage your stress and help you with your emotional eating.
These tips and tricks can only help you so much. I had tried everything in the book, I finally gave up and gave into the binges. It wasn’t until I was put on an anti-depressant that I saw relief from my severe PMS. When I talked to my doctor about the unexpected bonus of no more PMS, she said I was probably suffering from PMDD premenstrual dysphoric disorder (a severe medical condition).
If your PMS is causing you extreme discomfort, anger, hunger, anxiety, or binge eating, go seek the help of a medical professional. You may be experiencing something more than the regular PMS condition, a more severe form known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder.