Around 80% of women find themselves experiencing at least one or two symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Many often suffer from insomnia, bloating, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, food cravings and etc. PMS deals with the disruptive emotional and physical changes which can occur anytime within the last two weeks of a menstrual cycle. Initially you experience a certain craving for sweet treats like chocolate fudge ice cream and cakes. The next thing you know, you lose that willpower to say 'no' and let go of that control over what you are eating.
Blame it on Your Estrogen Hormones
The main culprits for your PMS cravings and other symptoms are your hormonal ebbs and spikes during the menstrual cycle. The sudden increase and then dropping down of estrogen levels in the body also triggers release of cortisol, a stress hormone. When there is an increased cortisol level in the blood, chances are, the body adapts this "fight or flight" response where an individual is metabolically charged and the appetite is stimulated. This situation in turn causes the person to seek out for more carbs and fatty foods- the fuel for this "fight or flight" circumstance. Food cravings also depend upon on serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain. Whenever serotonin levels are low, women tend to have carb cravings to synthesize serotonin.
Fight off the PMS cravings
Whether your blood sugar, serotonin or cortisol levels are out of whack, eating large servings of chocolate, chips and ice cream isn't the only way to stabilize these elements. As a matter of fact, they are considered the worst way. Lifestyle habits and appropriate nutrition are the key factors in fighting off these cravings with long term results. Here are healthy ways for you to deal with PMS cravings the right way.
- Stick with foods rich in complex carbohydrates. Reach for a snack filled with complex carbs when you feel like getting those grumpy attacks. Include high complex carbs in your meals such as whole grain bread, cereals and pasta. Whenever eaten on an empty stomach, baked potatoes, a whole grain bagel or a low sugar cereal can improve your serotonin levels in an hour.
- Don't forget to drink around eight to ten glasses of water every day. This will help keep you hydrated and also reduce bloating.
- Refrain from eating foods abundant in processed sugars. Simple sugars (e.g. processed sugars) can potentially increase insulin secretion in the body thus stimulating your appetite for fats and carbs.
- Avoid salty and sodium-rich processed foods. A diet low in sodium will help reduce fluid retention and bloating. It also reduces the risks of developing high blood pressure.
- Eat foods containing essential fatty acids. Foods such as canola oil mayo, safflower and salmon can help in slowly absorbing carbs, stabilizing blood sugar levels and combat those PMS cravings.
- Limit your intake of cola and caffeine. Try to reduce your caffeine intake for you to feel less irritable and relieve breast soreness at the same time.
- Get adequate sleep and avoid getting stressed out. Get at least six to eight hours of sleep and rest daily to help you exercise control over the things that you are eating.
- Cut your meals into halves. Instead of eating 3 huge meals in a day, try eating six small ones. This can help maintain your blood sugar levels and cut back on those cravings.
Charmaine Ann Enerio is a registered nurse and a freelance writer in Manila, Philippines. Currently, she specializes in neonatal intensive care and in health & wellness. As an advocate of women's health, Charmaine is planning on pursuing a degree in midwifery that would focus more on helping women before, during and after their pregnancies. Writing has always been her passion and has been an editor ever since her high school years. A good thing about Charmaine is the way she balances her career as a health care professional and as a writer. Nursing has given her the chance to serve her fellow countrymen and also write about her various experiences. As a medical professional, she focuses more on holistic and patient centered care. Charmaine is blessed with a wonderful family and a loving fiancé. Check out her blog site at troika1987.wordpress.com.