We get it. You’re on your period and suddenly you want to eat everything in sight. But is this just period cavings, or are you actually more hungry than usual? This is something that lots of us experience at times during our cycle, and lots of women find their hunger really ramps up during their period in particular. So what causes period hunger, and how can we manage it?
Is it normal to feel more hungry on your period?
Yes, it’s normal to feel more hungry on our period. And there are many potential reasons why it happens too. But remember that we’re all different, we all have different cycles and we all experience PMS differently too. Its ok if you’re not more hungry during your period, just as it’s ok if you are.
Why do we feel more hungry on our period?
So why exactly do we sometimes experience more intense hunger during our period? Let’s take a look.
The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones, and they could also be the reason why we get more hungry during our period too. As levels rise and fall throughout the cycle, lots of changes take place within the body, all of which are essential to keep things running smoothly. But sometimes the imbalance can have other effects too.
Studies like this one have found clear links between sex hormones and appetite, but it’s mainly progesterone that scientists have found impacts our hunger. Levels of oestrogen drop and progesterone rises during the luteal phase, and that’s when period cravings and increased hunger strikes.
This study found that oestrogen can reduce appetite, whereas progesterone and testosterone, in conjunction with oestrogen, may actually enhance it. This means that we’re more likely to experience increased hunger just as the hormones are shifting- again, that’s in those few days leading up to your periods and the first few days of bleeding too.
Cortisol is triggered by stress, be it good (like when you exercise) or bad. And research shows that cortisol can lead to increased hunger. So can cortisol be linked to our period? Yes. If you consider the effect that certain PMS symptoms can have on our stress levels- for example, poor sleep, anxiety, irritability and trouble concentrating- its easy to see how just being on your period can increase you hunger via cortisol.
We might also class period hunger as emotional eating, which again ties in with what we know about hormone fluctuations and period cravings. Sometimes we just want comfort food when we’re feeling low and we’ve got period cramps. Totally normal, but possibly not true hunger.
As with emotional eating, period cravings can be caused by PMS symptoms, but cravings can also be caused by other factors too. Poor sleep, lack of exercise, habit and nutritional deficiencies might all play a role in what foods we crave during our period. And again, the jury’s out on whether or not period cravings can be classed as actual hunger.
Your basal metabolic rate varies throughout your menstrual cycle- this study shows that your metabolism slows down in the week before ovulation, before beginning to speed up again right up until your period starts once more.
As your metabolic rate speeds up, you can expect to experience more hunger, because your body is burning more calories. More energy out, means more energy needs to go in, hence the hunger pangs during your period.
How to handle period hunger
So what do we need to do when period hunger strikes? Do we give in and just eat the cake, or do we ignore the stomach grumbles instead?
Honour your hunger
We know that higher levels of progesterone can lead to an increase in appetite, and we know that your metabolic rate increases at this time too- so it makes sense to question whether we might just need those extra calories after all. If this is the case, then honouring your hunger might be the way to go.
Don’t just assume those tummy rumbles are period cravings- it could be your body telling you to give it more fuel when it needs it.
Adjust your diet to your menstrual cycle
If you know that you get more hungry on your period, you could make some adjustments to the way you eat throughout the rest of your cycle to allow for it. This means listening to your body, knowing when it needs more food and when you can reduce your portion sizes a little. Your body is actually really great at letting you know what it needs, so don’t ignore it.
Foods to eat to ease period cramps
Sometimes we eat to ease the misery of period cramps and other PMS symptoms- and that’s ok. But did you know that there are some foods that are particularly good to eat on your period, and some that could make those cramps worse?
Try to include as many whole foods as you can in your diet. Avoid processed foods as much as you can, and cut down on alcohol and foods that are high in sugar and salt. And the good news is that dark chocolate can be good for period cramps, so never feel you can’t indulge when that particular craving strikes!
Beat the bloat
If you feel your weight does fluctuate a little during your period (totally normal!) then make sure you have a nice comfy pair of period pants to keep your supported and protected. There’s nothing worse than feeling your clothes digging in when you’re feeling a little sensitive.
Our WUKA Stretch Seamless are a great option as each pair can stretch up to 4 sizes, taking in period bloating and temporary weight gain with ease. We also recommend our Flex Collection too- they’re also multi-size so they’ll accommodate any bloating too, plus the Flex Bikini have detachable straps for easy changing too. And if you feel particularly tender in the tummy area, go for a high waist pair for some extra support when you need it most.
Is it normal to be extra hungry during my period?
Yes, its completely normal to feel more hungry on your period, and this can be down to many reasons, Hormone fluctuations, PMS symptoms, an increase in metabolic rate- all of these factors can influence your appetite during your period.
How can I control my hunger during my period?
Sometimes we need to listen to our body and ensure we give it the fuel it needs. If your diet on a whole is healthy and balanced, your appetite is probably in tune and your hunger pangs should be honoured. If you do need to make some changes, you might find that your appetite begins to regulate and intense feelings of hunger could well settle down
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