Decoding period cravings: understanding the science behind your hunger

Mar 1, 2024

Many of us have experienced the desire for specific foods during our menstrual cycle, commonly known as period cravings. But are they real, and why do they happen? We're about to uncover the mysteries of when they pop up, why they're a thing, and what your cravings may be trying to tell you.

Are Period Cravings Real?

The short answer is yes! Many women and menstruators experience heightened cravings during their menstrual cycle. These cravings are often more intense and specific than regular hunger, leading to the term "period cravings" or "period hunger." Understanding it can help you navigate your diet during this time.

Source: Women's 

When Do Period Cravings Start?

Typically, cravings start a week or two before your period (your luteal phase), and can continue into the early days of the period. This is your premenstrual phase, and is when hormonal fluctuations, particularly changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, can influence your appetite and food preferences.

It is important to note that we are all unique, and some of us may experience cravings, whilst others experience none. There are limited scientific studies on this topic, therefore much of the information we have is based on general observations and anecdotal evidence. Keeping a diary or logging your cravings is a great way of tracking how your own body reacts during your menstrual cycle. 

Source: Mayo Clinic

Why Do We Get Cravings Around Our Period?

Hormones play a significant role in period cravings. Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, impacting neurotransmitters that regulate mood and appetite. Additionally, hormonal changes can affect insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, contributing to cravings for certain types of foods.

Emotional changes, such as stress, anxiety, or mood swings associated with your menstrual cycle, can further contribute to cravings. Some of us may seek comfort from certain foods during your cycle (at Fluus HQ we have a drawer of chocolate and sweets which we're always reaching for when we get hormonal cravings!). Try not to be too hard on your yourself, and remember that everyone's experiences will be different. If you end up snacking on chocolate or sweets, balance it out with something nourishing. Check out this delicious recipe from Hanna Rose in one of our previous posts.

Source: Harvard Health Publishing 

Understanding your period cravings is about tuning into your body's signals and responding with mindful choices. While indulging in cravings is perfectly okay, maintaining a balanced diet during your menstrual cycle can contribute to overall well-being. Listen to your body, and don't forget to stay hydrated, get enough rest, and engage in activities that support your mental and physical health.