Periods are a natural function of the human body, however, we know how taxing they can be at times! From cramps to mood swings, things can get incredibly tough! The only way we're able to make it through is by eating food that tastes good. Comfort foods are absolute bliss during those four days of the month when your body is in a constant state of turmoil. Chocolate is one such comfort food that seems to offer some relief from the pain.
While eating chocolate can be an effective way for many women to lessen the effects of PMS; however, this doesn’t mean that you should indulge in a pint of chocolate ice cream or a few bars every single day right up until the time when your period starts. Most of us very well give into chocolate temptation but are unaware that it is high in calories and ingredients that aren’t all natural. PMS is caused by hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, which fluctuate during different points of your menstrual cycle. Most of the time, hormones are the ones to blame for your mood swings and food cravings.
So, what exactly are period cravings?
Period cravings are intense desires for particular foods that occur at certain points in the menstrual cycle. They usually occur around the time of ovulation, and they're often associated with high levels of estrogen. This is because your body needs to prepare for a possible pregnancy. Historically, people have believed that period cravings might be caused by a lack of nutrients, hormonal imbalance, or other health problems. However, there's no conclusive research to support this idea.
Is chocolate good for you during menstruation?
Chocolate is an indulgence most women enjoy during their periods. It seems to offer some relief for the hormonal swings that come with periods. Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why chocolate should be given a break during this time. One reason is that chocolate is high in sugar and fat which make it difficult for the body to process. Chocolate also contains caffeine which can make symptoms worse by causing a person's heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Another reason is because of its milk content which may cause bloating and gas.
Downsides of consuming chocolates during periods
- Heartburns and bloating - As mentioned earlier, chocolates provide fat and sugar that can lead to heartburn and increase blood sugar levels. There is a possibility of bloating and gas as chocolates contain high levels of food additives such as emulsifiers, vegetable oils, artificial flavours and preservatives. The stimulant theobromine in chocolates can worsen the effect of cramps if one is already dealing with them.
- Contains caffeine- Chocolate also contains caffeine, which when combined with the compounds in chocolate can cause cramps, restlessness, nausea and other side effects. There are chances of acne breakouts due to the presence of caffeine in chocolates. High levels of caffeine in chocolate can also lead to anxiety and other nervous disorders.
- Other side effects- Chocolate may also lead to weight gain if eaten over a long period. Chocolate may cause headaches or migraine if consumed in excess. Consuming chocolates in high amounts may also cause constipation. It is also said that chocolates can trigger contractions and can result in miscarriage for pregnant women. It is thus advisable to avoid or limit the intake of chocolates during menstruation.
There is no evidence that suggests that eating chocolate before periods helps with PMS or dysmenorrhea symptoms. Generally, moderation when indulging in chocolate is the best way to enjoy it without worrying about side effects. Another way to manage cravings is by substituting chocolates or other junk items with other healthy food options.
One of the major reasons why you crave comfort food is because of the drop in levels of progesterone and estrogen. This results in you feeling hungry a lot more than usual. If you’re craving something, it’s important that you don’t restrict yourself from eating. It is essential that you give your body the food it requires. Here are some of the healthy food swaps you can try the next time you have period cravings -
- Switch to complex carbs such as lentils, beans, brown rice, oats, etc instead of simple carbs like bread, pasta, etc.
- Satisfy your sugar craving with healthy options such as fruits, smoothies, energy bites, yoghurt etc.
- Always go for dark chocolates over milk chocolates. The antioxidants and minerals in dark chocolate can help you cope with cramps.
Food cravings during menstruation are very normal and can be tricky to deal with. However, one needs to draw a line between food cravings and binge eating. Switching to a healthy snack option will not only satisfy your cravings but also alleviate the cramps. So, the next time you know your periods are around the corner, keep a pack of healthy snacks ready.