Menstruation is hell. It feels like Tarantino is producing a film throughout your whole body and the moment you think it’s over, more blood and tension come to the stage. It has a well-known trailer called PMS: Premenstrual Syndrome. Cramps, cravings, mood swings are all involved. You spend a quarter of every month for handling physical and emotional symptoms. It is a big price we pay only for being women. We should at least have enough energy to deal with it. So we better feed ourselves well in the first place. Choose right foods, treat yourself with a bit of chocolate; and you’ll get over this phase.
But how much chocolate is “a bit of chocolate” ? And why “chocolate” ?
Let’s start with the reason why we crave sweet things during PMS.
Science behind PMS cravings
It’s not you, it’s your hormones craving food. So don’t blame yourself when you grab your second chocolate right after your first one. It’s perfectly normal and has a scientific explanation.
Menstrual cycle has 2 halves: follicular phase and luteal phase. PMS symptoms appear in the luteal phase, in the second half which begins with ovulation. Symptoms come in the first few days after the egg is released and continues until the beginning of your period. In this phase, your body believes that you are going to have a baby, so is getting prepared for a potential pregnancy. It tries to provide enough energy for growing a human being, which explains why you tend to eat excessively. You find yourself eating starchy and sugary foods. You crave especially sweets because the responsible hormones are releasing on a high level and they are triggered by increase of insulin, which causes low blood sugar. Then chocolate, lots of chocolate…
Your body doesn’t particularly want “chocolate” but more likely wants calcium, sugar and fat. Chocolate is the most commonly food to crave because it’s the perfect combination of calcium, sugar and fat. Chocolate is also something we associated with happiness, and indulging ourselves with chocolate is sort of a learned behaviour. We need something that releases happiness hormones as serotonin and dopamine; something that stimulates the brain’s reward system and eventually makes us feel better. Even though many food can do that, we adopt “chocolate” as a rewarding food. It’s okay. Because if we love it, then it gives us pleasure, and pleasure brings happiness which is exactly what we need while going through such a sensitive period.
Benefits of chocolate
Here, I must suggest dark chocolate if we talk about the benefits. Because sweet chocolate, especially when over-consumed, might give you discomfort because of the containing sugar, caffeine and the stimulant theobromine.
Dark chocolate, on the other hand, provides benefits on physical health. The ones with over 70% cocoa are rich by magnesium, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Lowers the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and Alzheimer’s
- May send good cholesterol up and bad cholesterol down
- Reduces the risk of diabetes improving blood sugar levels
- Contains high levels of antioxidants and is good for your skin
- Behaves like a prebiotic and may help weight loss
How much chocolate is enough?
I say, there is no such thing as “enough chocolate” as long as your body and soul desire it. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be careful about the amount. Eat it until you are satisfied, but first make sure you treat your body well and provide enough nutrients. Eat fruits/vegetables, calcium-rich foods like dairy products, prefer complex carbohydrates. Minimize your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Sleep well and do some sport. Then, enjoy your chocolate. You will crave less and enjoy more.
PMS is challenging and we know it. Time for treating yourself like a baby. Get unreasonably emotional, cry for no reason, lay down all day, watch romantic comedies and eat your chocolate.
Don’t count calories, don’t count pieces. You could’ve been growing a baby in your womb, you need it. Just eat the whole thing.