by Caitlin Flynn
Aside from miserable cramps, one of the biggest signs that we’re about to get our period is the sudden urge to reach for our favorite chocolatey treat. Thanks to new research, we finally know why we crave chocolate before our periods — and science has proven that it’s not just in our heads.
Researchers from the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology have found that a woman’s menstrual cycle does have an affect on her eating habits and caloric intake. The participants in the study, which was recently published in the journal Annals of Endocrinology, ate more calories per day during the periovulatory phase (when ovulation is initiated) and the luteal phase (after ovulation and before your period).
If you find yourself eating more carbs and chocolate during your period, you have plenty of company — and a scientific reason why.The authors of the study believe that the shift in our dietary cravings and behaviors is due to an increase in estrogen and progesterone during the luteal phase. This leads to a decrease in our serotonin levels — the very same chemical that’s released when we eat chocolate.
So, if your body craves chocolate, it’s likely because consuming the food will make up for this deficiency. The authors also think that more energy is expended during the luteal phase, which could explain why our caloric intake spikes right before that time of the month.“Changes in dietary habits during the menstrual cycle should be taken into consideration in the interpretation of dietary evaluation in women,” the authors write.
In short, a change in eating habits and weight during the different phases of your ovulation cycle are totally natural. As it turns out, there really is a scientific reason we get a hankering for chocolate when we’re PMSing — so go ahead and reach for a treat. At least there’s one upside to PMS, right?