Understanding PMS and Chocolate Cravings

It's more than just a common experience for many to find solace in a good dark chocolate bar while grappling with cramps. But is this a mere stereotype fed by media, or is there a scientific correlation between menstruation and the urge for chocolate? As we delve into the science behind this intriguing connection, let's explore if chocolate truly has the power to improve PMS symptoms. And it turns out there really is something to dark chocolate improving period symptoms.

Why do women crave chocolate on their period?

When that time of the month rolls around, it's common for women to feel an irresistible pull toward sugary treats, particularly chocolate. It's almost as if there's an internal clock prompting these cravings.

Many attribute the chocolate yearning to the body's attempt to compensate for lost nutrients during menstruation. However, others argue that it's more psychological, a form of self-soothing during a physically uncomfortable time. Let's peel back the layers of this intriguing phenomenon to unravel the facts.

During the menstrual cycle, hormonal changes can create a ripple effect throughout the body. The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone levels could result in an increased hunger level, specifically targeting high-fat and sweet foods. This is where affinity for chocolate comes in. As a rich source of sugar and fat, chocolate caters perfectly to these cravings.

Contrarily, the desire for chocolate could merely be a sociocultural construct. Perhaps it's not a biological impulse, but rather a learned behavior based on media influence and societal norms. The idea of women needing chocolate during their period might be a stereotype that has been absorbed over time, not an actual physical requirement. Believe it or not the same can be said of Oysters being an aphrodesiac.

Adding another twist, some women exclusively desire chocolate during their cycle, despite not usually having a sweet tooth. This suggests an underlying, yet unidentified, factor influencing these cravings.

While we're delving into the complex interplay between PMS and chocolate cravings, it's critical to note that it's okay to indulge these desires. A wallowing taste of chocolate can provide temporary comfort, enhance mood, and potentially soothe cramps. Just remember, moderation is vital to ensure the comfort doesn't turn into a sugar-induced discomfort!

Does chocolate help with cramps?

Yes, consuming chocolate can potentially alleviate period cramps. Scientific studies have revealed that specific minerals present in dark chocolate like copper, calcium, and magnesium might play a part in managing period pain. These nutrients contribute to the production of endorphins and serotonin, our body's feel-good hormones. These hormones double up as natural pain relief agents. Interestingly, magnesium – another component of dark chocolate – can help mitigate muscle cramps that are particularly prevalent during a woman's period.

And there have been a few companies like Kittie who have mixed dark chocolate with other supplements known to help with period symptoms. (They are the best example on the market right now.

Let's have a quick look at some of the studies and their findings

Dark chocolate’s effect on menstrual pain in late adolescents

Dark chocolate was found to significantly reduce menstrual pain in late adolescents, according to the study.

  • Dark chocolate significantly reduces menstrual pain in late adolescents.
  • The mean menstrual pain in the treatment group was lower than the control group.

See study here

Manufacture and Evaluation of Novel Chocolate for Girls' Dysmenorrhea

The paper discusses the effects of consuming a novel chocolate supplemented with cinnamon, ginger, and mint on dysmenorrhea in girls. It mentions that consuming the chocolate reduced menstrual pain and inflammation and improved iron levels in the blood. However, it does not specifically mention the relationship between menstrual and chocolate.

  • Consuming the novel chocolate reduces menstrual pain and inflammation.
  • The chocolate increases iron levels and reduces cholesterol and triglycerides.

See study here

Does Dark Chocolate Relieve Menstrual Pain in Adult Women?: A Study Among Indian Population

The paper investigates the effects of dark chocolate on premenstrual and menstrual pain in adult women. It found that dark chocolate consumption significantly reduced the pain.

  • Dark chocolate reduces premenstrual and menstrual pain.
  • Dark chocolate can be an alternative to NSAIDs

See study here

The Effect of Giving Dark Chocolate on Reducing Menstrual Pain in Primary Dysmenorrhoea in Employees of Cabangbungin General Hospital, Bekasi Regency in 2023

The paper discusses the effect of giving dark chocolate to women who happened to be employees of the hospital in which it was conducted. Whilst it’s not a large scale study, it did also have positive results.

  • Dark chocolate reduces dysmenorrhea menstrual pain.

See study here

Should I Be Worried About These Cravings?

Quite often, at the onset of your period, there are significant hormonal changes that bring about alterations to your cravings, mood, and appetite. Fortunately, it's crucial to note that these shifts are entirely normal. During this phase, your cravings, especially for chocolate, are typically heightened. But, should this hinder you from indulging? Hardly.

The trick lies in practicing restraint. Moderation is the name of the game here, specifically concerning chocolate consumption. Though it's okay to give in to these cravings occasionally, it shouldn't become a free pass to excessive indulgence. Remember, chocolate carries calories that can impact your body weight.

Consuming small portions and adhering to the recommended daily intake is considered safe. Should you have concerns about such recommendations, it's a great idea to consult a dietitian or nutritionist. They're equipped to offer advice or even propose healthy snacks with a taste closely resembling chocolate if you're struggling to exercise self-control.

It's also worth noting, cravings often manifest due to a lack of certain elements in your diet, irregular eating habits, or inadequate sleep. Aim to counteract these issues by:

  • Engaging in activities you enjoy, to distract from cravings.

  • Ensuring you get quality sleep, ideally 7-9 hours a night.

  • Eating balanced meals at regular intervals to stabilize your blood sugar levels.

In addition, you can tackle sweet cravings in a healthier way. Swap out the chocolate for naturally sweet alternatives like fruit or yoghurt coupled with a drizzle of honey, to satisfy your yearning without compromising your diet.

However, if your hunger or cravings persist past your period, seek medical advice, as it may be indicative of an underlying issue.

So, no need to worry about these cravings. Enjoy your chocolate, but always with a mindfulness of quantity consumed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chocolate And Periods

How can hormonal changes during menstruation lead to chocolate cravings?

Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation can affect your brain's serotonin levels, triggering cravings for foods like chocolate that can boost these levels and improve your mood.

Is it harmful to indulge in chocolate cravings during menstruation?

While it's okay to occasionally give in to these cravings, frequent consumption of chocolate, which are high in calories, may impact your body weight. Moderation is key.

What are some alternative snacks to chocolate?

Consulting with a dietitian or nutritionist can provide you with numerous healthy snack alternatives to chocolate. Consider foods high in serotonin-boosting nutrients like nuts, fruits, or lean proteins.

What lifestyle changes can help manage cravings?

Engaging in enjoyable activities, ensuring enough quality sleep, and eating balanced and timely meals can significantly aid in managing cravings during menstruation.

Is chocolate safe to consume during menstruation?

Yes, consuming chocolate during menstruation is safe when done in moderation. Dark chocolate may especially be beneficial as it is high in magnesium, which can help reduce pain and relax muscles.

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