Chocolate, the addiction-creating sweet that wraps your taste buds in a velvety blanket of cacao and bliss, is one of the most commonly craved foods in the country. Combine all that satisfying sugar and fat with PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), and you’ve got yourself a classic case of hormonal cravings.
In fact, hormone fluctuations are felt by nearly every organ in the body—not just your reproductive organs. With all of that changing going on, your serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone) levels take a plunge while cortisol (the stress hormone) spikes. The result? An unwavering need for sweet, fatty treats that make you feel satisfied and more at ease until the next wave hits.
Chocolate specifically contains a blend of ingredients that mimic Cloud Nine, which may contribute to its first-place standing on the list of PMS cravings:
- Theobromine – An energizing stimulant
- Tryptophan – An amino acid that promotes serotonin
- Phenethylamine – A substance that releases endorphins
Just because this triple threat sounds like (and tastes like) the perfect solution, doesn’t mean that popping a handful of M&Ms every 20 minutes is helping. In fact, giving in to all the cravings will most likely come with a sugar crash.
Here’s what you should eat instead.
1. Foods High in Calcium and Vitamin D
This includes low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, orange juice, or soy milk. These types of foods—rich in calcium and vitamin D without supplementation—may ease depressive symptoms, anxiety, and emotional fluctuations.
This veggie is a PMS-fighting machine, as it’s packed with calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, and E, potassium, and magnesium. Vitamin A in particular has been shown to regulate the annoying symptoms of fluctuating hormones.
Pumpkin isn’t only for fall—especially when you consider how much magnesium and manganese in stored in a handful of pumpkin seeds (75–85%!). This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re trying to combat bloating and irritability, pumpkin seeds are the way to go.
Adding bananas to your diet can be especially useful for combatting cramps, thanks to all that potassium. Bananas also bring the added benefit of B6, which can stop you from holding excess water and feeling bloated.
5. Green Veggies
Say goodbye to acne, and say hello to spinach, kale, and romaine. These leafy saviors are loaded with vitamin A, which keeps your skin from drying out, fights acne, and wards off some UV radiation.
The best way to handle a craving is to prevent it—cue the eggs. It may not seem like the obvious, or most appealing option, but lean foods with lots of protein controls blood sugar patterns. Best of all, the protein in a savory omelet will keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to ravage the pantry for that last Twix bar.
I get it. It’s totally easier and more satisfying (in the moment, at least) to opt for the fudgy brownies instead of the yogurt—but maybe scarfing down some of these PMS-fighting foods before the worst of the cravings hit will make it easier to keep your word when you say, “I’ll just have one piece!”
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.