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Food cravings? The Inside Scoop on Those Extra Carbs Intake

Uh-oh. It’s that time of the month again, and that chocolate cake in the café window is looking to die for.   (*Here’s a napkin, you’re drooling just a little). The urge to wolf it down is tremendous, as if whatever diet you were following never really did exist. Don’t worry. A lot of women experience these intense food cravings when their period is about to arrive. According to a study published from the Department of Nutrition of the University of California, Davis, changing levels of ovarian hormones, including leptin and progesterone, can contribute to the sudden surge of cravings amongst women and lead them to consume 500 extra calories per day!

This compulsive-like desire to carb binge is your brain’s response to your body’s intensive monthly cycle of shedding the uterus lining, hormonal fluctuations and mood changes. In a separate study, researchers explained that loading up on carbs increases levels of serotonin, which is the “make you feel happy” hormone. Serotonin activity and levels tend to be low during the late “luteal” phase, that is, right before the period.  The boost in serotonin can help to counteract the emotional symptoms, such as depression, sadness, irritability and anxiety, that affect up to 30% of women .

At the same time, if you’re asking yourself why you are always going for that chocolate bar instead of another healthier carb option, it’s just a matter of simple versus complex carbs. Sugar-based sweets and foods are made up of simple carbs, which are easier and quicker for the body to metabolise. Faster metabolism of those carbs means a serotonin fix in less time. Although, interestingly enough, if your levels of serotonin are more or less normal, you may just opt for food that is oh-so-fatty and carb-packed, but without any heavy sweet aspect, like a juicy hamburger with fries (yummy!).

Finally, those cravings may just come about as a result of low blood sugar. Women were reported to feel irritability and edginess after a significant drop in blood sugar. After two hours or so, women were hungry once again and experienced food urges. 

Indeed, this is our reality on a monthly basis. There’s no fighting these insatiable cravings. However, we can do more to take control of the carbs we eat, choosing to instead consume healthy, slow-releasing carbs. Here are some simple examples to keep in mind when you’re rushing over to the fridge. Brown rice. Multi-grain bread. Yogurt. Fruits. The options are plentiful. When we decide to take care of ourselves, we feel both happier, respected and guilt-free.

And remember, because you deserve better.

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