Every woman knows that during that time of the month, insatiable cravings come in to play. Whether you like it or not, you will find yourself craving various foods like soda, chocolate, cake; you name it. At that time, many women tend to have a preference for sugary treats like chocolate. As a result, chocolate cravings have been considered normal during PMS, which is why women indulge in them every month. That said, another percentage are aware of these food urges and are questioning if they are healthy. As a result, you will constantly bump into the question asking, ‘why do women crave chocolate on their period?’
Why do women crave chocolate on their period? Is it because it helps relieve painful cramps? Does it help provide a nutrient essential for menstruating women? These are questions you will find ladies asking when it comes to exploring the relationship between chocolate and menstruation.
So, this read will be discussing why many women tend to have a chocolate craving while on their period. We will analyze the cause of these cravings and discuss if they are controllable and healthy. Keep reading to discover if you need to hang onto your emergency chocolate stash or if it is time to dispose of it.
Is It Normal To Crave Chocolate During Your Period?
Some women may find it weird to crave sweet stuff like chocolate during that time of the month. It can be strange, especially if you are the only lady in your circle of friends who desires chocolate over other foodstuffs.
Such a feeling can leave you feeling like you have abnormal or outrageous desires during this time of the month. Yet, experts acknowledge that this craving is typical and no different from that of other ladies.
Health Harvard categorizes this craving under Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (5). This is a collection of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that all ladies experience up to two weeks before their menstrual period (5).
These symptoms vary and include tender breasts, mood swings, food cravings, depression, and fatigue (6). When it comes to food cravings, these urges tend to differ among women but recur in a predictable pattern.
One woman may crave chips or fries, while another has a strong urge for chocolate. Since experts have found that the symptoms recurs in a predictable pattern, you can find out that you always crave these specific foods while menstruating. This means the answer is yes, it is normal to crave chocolate, chips, or other foodstuff during that time of the month.
Does Chocolate Help Cramps?
There is a theory that women crave chocolate because it somehow helps with their cramps. Because of this, you will find multiple women rushing to stock this food without verifying the credibility of this theory.
Sorry to burst your bubble if this theory has already convinced you. Unfortunately, there is no definitive evidence to prove that this specific food can help with cramps during that time of the month. This means that this is one of the many menstruation myths and misconceptions.
Many women, therefore, have these food urges because of something more. Knowing this, what is the meaning of chocolate cravings during PMS? Rule out this theory and join us as we explore scientifically backed-up reasons behind your monthly chocolate cravings.
Why Do I Crave Chocolate During That Time Of The Month?
As you may have learnt by now, most food cravings send you a specific body message. For example, a persistent egg craving may signal your body of an underlying vitamin D or vitamin B-12 deficiency.
So, you must always listen to your body and research any persistent and underlying food urge. For the longest time now, most women who have hormone hypersensitivity have been known to crave chocolate. It has almost become a trend that every such woman will always tend to crave chocolate.
But is your body trying to tell you something more than just satisfying this sweet tooth? Does it signal an underlying health condition? Well, let us demystify this concept to understand better what this chocolate desire signifies.
We are living in a society where almost everyone is worried about maintaining the ‘perfect’ physique. For men, this physique entails having a masculine body shape with a chiseled chest and ripped abs.
On the other hand, the ideal physique for women is a tiny waist, broad hips, and well-defined butt. In light of this, you will find most people camping out in the gym or killing themselves with home workouts trying to get such body shapes.
If one is not looking to shed belly fat, another is trying to tone their butt or increase muscle mass. The thing is, to attain such a body shape, you must also focus on good nutrition. Acquiring this ‘ideal’ body shape for women comes at a cost because they have to keep away from foods like chocolate.
So, during that time of the month, most women use this period as an excuse to indulge in such foods. According to WebMD, it means that such a craving arises because of the culture-bound construct where such foods have been categorized as unacceptable, harmful, or taboo (1).
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Is Chocolate Healthy?
This brings us to another highly debated concept, and that is the beneficial aspect of chocolate. Chocolate is healthy but can pose various health risks depending on the amount you consume. According to Medical News Today, consuming chocolate may help you reap the following benefits (3):
- Reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol levels, mainly if you have chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF).
- Reduced cardiovascular disease and cardiometabolic disorders due to reduced LDL levels.
- Reduced stroke risk if one limits chocolate intake to 100 grams daily.
- Improved fetal growth and development if pregnant women consume 30 grams or one ounce of chocolate daily.
- Increased nutritional intake. Consuming a 101 gram of dark chocolate containing at least 70 % to 85% of cocoa has the following nutritional profile (7):
The following health benefits from chocolate indicate that it should not be classified as a ‘taboo’ food. What must happen is that women must be educated on the recommended limits, especially if they want to attain a specific body shape.
The other reason women crave chocolate during that time of the month is changes in the serotonin hormone. Although most of us may consider it a hormone, scientists acknowledge that it is more of a neurotransmitter found in our brains, platelets, and bowels (10).
It is considered a neurotransmitter because the body uses it to convey messages between different nerve cells (10). Medical News Today also denotes that serotonin plays an integral role in various bodily functions, such as digestion, mood, appetite, and emotional control (10).
During PMS, women tend to experience a drop in serotonin levels. The reduction is associated with different food cravings, specifically carbs cravings since your body uses carbohydrates to make serotonin (4).
If it so happens that cortisol levels are high and serotonin levels are low, you will likely crave fats in addition to carbs (4). Of course, chocolate contains a simple carb (sugar) that women tend to crave during PMS mostly.
Can You Control These Chocolate Cravings?
Even though chocolate has various health benefits, food experts advise we go easy on it. Like any other simple carb, the sugar in chocolate can lead to multiple health problems, including (2):
- Unnecessary weight gain. Keep in mind that both light and dark chocolate contain calories. Overeating them can lead to increased calorie intake, causing weight gain.
- Reduced health benefits. WebMD acknowledges that some chocolate bars may contain additions like marshmallows and caramel. These sugary additions might outweigh the health benefits of chocolate.
- Tooth problems. Chocolate has high sugar content, which may lead to tooth problems like tooth decay.
- Migraine risk. Some women may experience migraines if they overindulge in chocolate. The migraines result from various components found in cocoa, such as histamine, tyramine, and phenylalanine (3).
- Heavy metal risk. Some chocolate bars have a high level of lead and cadmium that may be toxic to the bones, kidneys, and other body tissues (3).
The issue for some women is that they cannot help but give in to these urges and without limits. They worry that they will attain the above health problems, which is why they are curious to know if these cravings are controllable.
According to food experts, food cravings and binge eating for women during PMS are far more frequent during the luteal phase (4). Many will excessively indulge in their cravings, for example, chocolate, leading to an increased caloric intake (4).
Sadly, it is sometimes difficult for women to control their intake because the carb ingestion may increase brain serotonin levels, which would probably make them feel better (4).
Women also tend to crave chocolate during PMS because of sudden changes in their cortisol levels. Most people refer to cortisol as the stress hormone because it is mainly associated with stress. However, this body hormone is also responsible for various body functions. Some of these include (9):
- Management of how your body uses fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Regulation of your blood pressure
- Control of your sleeping and waking cycle
- Keeping your inflammation levels down
- Increasing your blood glucose or sugar
- Boosting energy to help regulate stress and restore balance afterwards
When you believe you are in danger, your brain tends to release a powerful chemical known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (8). The hormone triggers the adrenal gland located above your kidneys to release cortisol. The release of this hormone causes various emotional arousal symptoms (8).
During PMS, women will release more cortisol, which affects their appetite and cravings. Increased stress hormone levels will make you crave more sugary foods, which might explain the chocolate craving. However, for some women, their food desires are not limited to chocolate. Others may be craving ice cream, a vanilla cake, or any other sugary food.
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Should I Be Worried About These Cravings?
We have verified that during that time of the month, you will experience various hormonal changes. These changes will impact not only your cravings but also your mood and appetite. There is no need to worry about such cravings during this time of the month because they are normal.
What you need to focus on is exercising moderation when it comes to chocolate consumption. Have some chocolate, but do not use this period as an excuse to overindulge in this food. Remember that it contains calories, and they will affect your overall body weight.
Try to stay on the safe side by eating small portions or sticking to the recommended daily intake. You can always talk to your dietitian or nutritionist if you are unsure of such recommendations. Similarly, if you lack control, you can speak to them to recommend other healthy snacks that are pretty identical in taste to the chocolate.
The Bottom Line
Why do women crave chocolate on their period? A lot of notions have been developed to help justify this food urge. One of them is that chocolate helps relieve cramps. It does not, and this is not the reason why women crave these sugary treats.
These food urges are caused by changes in your serotonin and cortisol levels. They may be caused by the desire to indulge in regulated foods, which are often considered taboo. Talk to your nutritionist to help determine a safe and healthy daily chocolate intake.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Are Chocolate Cravings a Product of the Culture? (2018, webmd.com)
- Chocolate: Are There Health Benefits? (2020, webmd.com)
- Health benefits and risks of chocolate (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Insulin Sensitivity, Food Intake, and Cravings with Premenstrual Syndrome: A Pilot Study (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (2019, healthharvard.edu)
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What does a cortisol level test show? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What is Cortisol? (2020, webmd.com)
- What is serotonin, and what does it do? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)