Period food cravings are a prominent expression of the overwhelmingly universal assertion of premenstrual syndrome what is popularly known as PMS. Yet, for reasons intertwined in considerable complexity the basis of why these sugary and carby cravings experience such an epochal high during that specific time of the month has long eluded definite explanation. Craving for certain food flavors is anyway a more general phenomenon, the causation of which is not rooted in some specificness. With the PMS factor in consideration, the narrative is only bound to assume yet another layer of intricateness. Nevertheless, understanding the exact mechanism and science behind this ‘fascinating’ mannerism of working of the human body is crucial still to be better informed about our own health at least- if not anything else.
Like the occasional craving for a certain something, the desire for food that arises during the PMSing phase or even during the periods itself can be rooted in numerousness. The ‘in the mood for food’ reasoning is most common even as some underlying issues of a nutrient deficiency too serve to conjure up this irresistible hankering after chocolates and desserts most significantly. What however is interesting is that this latter cause inciting the pseudo hunger can also lead one to crave weird tastes. So weird in fact might be this assertion that the cravings can occur not just as unusual combinations of foods but also go on to encompass a wide range of inedible ‘tastes’ as well.
Of course all of these causes can be- and are often categorised as bearing a hormonal character. Periods are known to be immensely characterised by hormonal fluctuations which makes it easy for pretty much anything associated with the cycle to find an attribution to these bodily chemicals. Such ‘period diagnosis’ is pretty accurate as well, as food cravings are indeed stirred and spurred by different hormonal mismatches not just in PMSing individuals but also potentially across the whole range of the human population.
Period vs general food cravings
What further intensifies the intrigue of such generalised but still satisfactory representation in elucidating this phenomenon of food cravings is the extent of its holistic working. Even in the evident physiological basis of such functioning, there also exists a deeper psychological construct upon which this desire in expressing hinges. Which means that food craving itself is a rather multistranded identity that is only rarely influenced by any exclusive factor, with instead a greater gaunt of the dynamics occurring to direct its insatiableness.
Despite such humongous possibilities of what can incite the human to experience these sudden and even intense bouts of foodism, period food cravings have been at least partially brushed off in much nothingness. That is to say even something as universally prevalent as part of the rigorous monthly routine that so many female bodies the world over experience, PMS food choices might be represented as some ‘fad’ brought about by cultural conditioning. And despite how ridiculous it might sound, food cravings during that specific time of the month might sometimes reveal to be a social curation though not in all exclusiveness.
The global chocolate indulgence
Take the most common craving for chocolate for instance and research has established that only a certain section of the PMSing population cannot do without their serving of cacao. This is a delineation availed out of geographical considerations even when the basis behind a choco craving during periods isn’t without any definiteness. Chocolate itself makes for one of the more popular cravings in general but in this dimension of residing of the sweet toothed might still be a more ingrained necessity that corresponds to matters of both the body and mind.
A magnesium rich delight- a nutrient that manifests in scarceness during the menstrual time- the basis of a chocolate craving seems to be scientifically essential. At the same time, the many mood boosting neurotransmitters that this food of a proclaimed sensory awareness abounds in are also another reason why it has been one of the most craved tastes in general and a top period obsession in particular. And yet for all its global covetedness, not each individual experiencing the period blues will simultaneously experience a definite hankering for chocolate.
What follows through such ideation is that the phenomenon of food cravings associated with the menstrual cycle in humans cannot be definitely or exactly explained. But what has still managed to shine through in more recent expositions of its happening strikes once again as an interesting revelation that had till now managed to evade even the most comprehensive of attempts at analysing and understanding this mechanism. The unexpectedness of this newer discovery rests still upon the fore of the hormonal but in one aspect of that identity not often considered in this context.
An unlikely ‘culprit’?
Barging into the picture this time is an unassuming character of the insulin hormone, not known for its affect on mood unlike the other expressions of what a serotonin or dopamine mention would suggest. However out of the blue this expounding of the insulin claim might sound like, the present research does indeed provide definite evidence of how insulin sensitivity impacts more than just the physical health.
It though isn’t just the set of happy hormones that regulate – or dictate rather your food choices when on period. The associated names of cortisol and ghrelin too do the rounds even as another set of characteristics play through identities like estrogen and progesterone. Insulin however seems to be far removed from the picture even when its universal knowledge in some sweet but harsh truth is much prevalent. Come to think of it though and this very basis of its functioning is what posits insulin as the pivotal link that can help demystify period cravings.
Or some overlooked realities?
The insulin theory is all encompassing in its accounting for the entire carb consideration- chocolates included. But because this way in working is not direct, it might be what had made even the most carefully conducted experiments to miss out on this vital link of an insulin essence. Chowing down on carbohydrate laden foods which is more likely to take the form of a pizza or burger rather than healthy options of veggies and fruits increase serotonin levels which is all that your body and mind cares for when you are PMSing. This effect though would not be induced without the insulin reference.
An intake of carbs leads the body to produce insulin which stimulates the secretion of stimulation by inciting the amino acid tryptophan necessary for the hormonal changes to take over. And thus this glucose regulating entity of our physiology ends up exerting its influence in a more comprehensive assertion of its anabolic power.
Despite such shedding of dramatic light upon insulin as being as much responsible an agent for food cravings to take over our human senses, the many other factors insinuating our taste buds and testing our control over our own selves cannot be nullified. Specifically with the other category of cravings for salty, snacky bites, the issue might be more nutritional. A deficiency of water in your body is the likely culprit driving these desires. But if one is dehydrated, would they not aspire for a glass of coke instead? They might indeed but because that is more obvious, shedding light on the seemingly less perfectly fitting pieces of this puzzle is more necessary.
Period food cravings then are never sufficed by one singular explanation even when the experience is more or less similarly felt. But as long as they are neither too compulsive nor obstructive, one need not be too wary of attending to them. The problem would be pressing if the cravings exhibit an unusual character of non food items in some cases or even if their striking brings about a kind of obsessive, even stressful experience. Otherwise though, allowing yourself moderate access to these universal guilty pleasures can only be a way in ensuring that you in fact look forward to living that particular time of the month.