I swear I eat like a bear when I'm on my period — and I'm not chowing down on foods that are rich in nutrients, if you know what I'm saying. I'm talking about pizza, fries, brownies, and pretty much anything that's greasy or filled with sugar. And while I know food cravings are a common symptom of menstruation, I couldn't help but wonder if it's normal to be this hungry on my period.
"Being hungrier than usual is normal, and studies have shown we consume more calories during the time leading up to and through the early stage of our period," Shyama Mathews, MD, a board-certified gynecologist at Princeton Medicine Physicians, told POPSUGAR. Dr. Mathews explained that changes in hormone levels during this time can prompt you to eat more.
When the period begins, estrogen levels drop to an all-time low, triggering cravings for carbohydrates and fatty foods, said Sarah Cigna, MD, MS, a board-certified ob-gyn at The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates. She explained that it's OK to indulge in these cravings from time to time. "Cravings can have some merit to them," Dr. Cigna told POPSUGAR. "For example, carbohydrates can raise serotonin levels, which are lower in the premenstrual period of your cycle." However, she warned that greasy foods like pizza may cause more bloating or discomfort. If you start to feel unwell, Dr. Cigna recommends seeking out healthier alternatives.
For cravings that just won't quit, Dr. Mathews suggests eating proteins and complex carbs, which are likely to leave you more satisfied and for a longer period of time. She added that staying hydrated and getting some exercise can also help keep your mind off food while boosting your overall mood.