Yeah we’re about to tell you to stop eating sugar on your period. (Don’t completely hate us just yet)
For as long as we can remember we’ve turned to chocolate as the holy grail of medication and the answer to all (fine, most) ailments, especially period-related ones. Horrid cramps? Here’s an entire bar of Green and Blacks. PMS? Booja Booja Chocolate Salted Caramel ice-cream. We welcome these treats of sugary goodness with open arms and mouths because, hell, it makes us feel fucking better than we did before it. Or do we? Babe, get ready for some serious myth-busting on one of the most marketed period tips – sugar.
DW, we’re not dismissing your cravings.
Cravings around your period basically come down to your hormones (yes, there is scientific evidence for the period-cheat-week we all take). Although this will differ for different women, generally these hormonal changes will have a significant impact on the weird cravings you might experience. Right before you come on your period, oestrogen and progesterone go up, and then quickly drop off – which some docs suggest could be a reason for increased hunger. Others suggest that it’s the body’s change in its response to insulin during the pre-period phase which means that some women experience changes to their blood sugar levels and thus crave sugary, sweet foods. It doesn’t stop there, cortisol (your stress hormone) tends to increase right before your periods, whilst serotonin (your happy hormone) tends to drop. The combination can leave you seriously craving not just sweets and carbs, but also fatty foods. I mean, we don’t really stand a chance do we?!
The problem is, the sugar high from our sweet binge lasts only for a little while, and then you start feeling sugar’s ill-effects on the body through more cramps that make you want to devour another tub of that chocolate ice-cream. It’s a vicious bloody cycle, Babe.
Okay, but what actually does sugar do to my body?
So here’s the deal – when you eat high-sugar foods your body releases prostaglandins and other inflammatory chemicals. Prostaglandins (nope, no clue how to pronounce that either) are partially responsible for cramping as they get released into the bloodstream. And all the other inflammatory chemicals that get released with them can lead to all those PMS symptoms that turn you from belle to beast in 5 seconds flat (headaches, insomnia, mood swings, and our favourite ‘ruin-all-my-bloody-plans-because-i’m-too-bloated’ fluid retention). And we hate to break it to you, but when we say sugar we don’t just mean chocolate and sweets – refined carbohydrates count too (step away from the pastry babe and no one gets hurt).
What the F do I do now?
There’s nothing wrong with eating whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want. However, by exercising a teeny tiny bit of restraint and choosing a healthier option (you know, protein, complex carbs, healthy fats – c’mon everyone loves an avo) you might just save yourself the stress & PMS that causes your closest to stay far, far away from you for a week a month. Exercise also has a similar ‘feel-good-quick’ effect on your hormones as sugar does – although much better for you – stick to something light like a juicy little yoga sesh or a long walk with your best pal. If none of those tips will do (don’t really blame you tbh) then reach for a couple of squares of real, good quality dark chocolate (No babe, 60% cocoa does not count). High percentage dark chocolate not only tastes incredible, it also contains magnesium, which is one of the best minerals for helping to decrease cramps, and actually releases serotonin to make you that little bit happier. (A glass of red wine can help too, FYI).
We’re all ears for your best sugar-free, craving satisfying, period indulgent recipes (yup, this is definitely a challenge)…
Image credit: @jarbastins (weheartit)