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Why Do We Crave Chocolate During Periods: Science and Comfort

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Many people who menstruate experience a strong desire to eat chocolate during their periods or menstruation. This happens because of heightened cravings for sugary and fatty foods.

While the exact cause is still unknown, there are a few reasons related to both the body and the mind that can contribute to this craving. Magnesium deficiency and hormonal changes are some common reasons that lead to chocolate cravings.

This article answers the questions, ‘ Why do we crave chocolate during periods, and what happens if we eat it?’

Why Do We Crave Chocolate During Periods: Reasons

The days before and during your period can be emotionally and physically draining. Various changes that take place in your body during this time cause certain symptoms known as period symptoms or Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), one of which is a craving for chocolate.

As discussed below, factors like hormones, neurotransmitters, and magnesium deficiency contribute to chocolate cravings:

Hormonal Fluctuations

Our menstrual cycle is a complex process controlled by two main hormones: Estrogen and Progesterone. Studies have shown that these hormones are responsible for our eating patterns and choices.

In the days leading up to your period, you experience PMS cravings due to the fall in the levels of Estrogen and Progesterone, leading to a decrease in another hormone, Serotonin.

Serotonin, or the ‘feel-good’ hormone, helps regulate mood and energy levels. When its levels drop, you might experience fatigue, irritability, and a low mood, all of which can trigger cravings for sugary or comforting foods like chocolate to get an energy boost.

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  • Neurotransmitter Changes

    Neurotransmitters are also involved in our chocolate cravings. Endorphins are natural pain-relieving neurotransmitters produced by the body. 

    As many women experience cramps before and during their periods, the body might crave chocolate for its potential to release Endorphins and help ease cramps.

    Chocolate craving is driven by our brain’s need to balance out the levels of neurotransmitters and achieve a sense of pleasure.

    Magnesium deficiency

    It is believed that during periods, there is a slight deficiency of magnesium in your body. Chocolates are a good source of magnesium, and hence, your body craves chocolate during periods to fulfill that deficiency.

    Regular chocolate is often full of unhealthy fats, which can further worsen your period symptoms. Chocolates that are high in sugar should be avoided. 

    Instead, one should consume dark chocolate, which boasts less sugar, is high in antioxidants, is good for heart health, and has mood-boosting flavanols, making it a more balanced and potentially beneficial choice.

    Dark chocolate during periods can help replenish magnesium stores, potentially reducing cravings and offering other health benefits.

    Warning:
    Eating a lot of dark chocolate can lead to a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, which might be harmful to people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Hence, regulation and portion control are important.

    Psychological Factors

    Chocolate
    Chocolate

    While hormonal changes play a significant role, the reasons behind chocolate cravings go beyond biology. Here are some additional factors to consider:

    Comfort Food Connection

    Chocolate is often associated with happy emotions and positive memories of childhood. It can be a source of comfort during a time when you’re feeling uncomfortable or stressed, making it a natural go-to during your period.

    Cultural Influence

    The media frequently portrays chocolate as the perfect pick-me-up for period cravings. Studies in the United States have shown that this constant messaging can create an expectation that you “should” crave chocolate during your period.

    Learned Behavior 

    If you consistently indulge in chocolate during your period, your body might start to associate the treatment with relief from PMS symptoms. This can lead to a system of craving and reward, making it even harder to resist chocolate during future periods.

    Glossary:
    Serotonin: It is also known as the feel-good hormone or happy hormone. It is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, memory, and learning. Adequate serotonin levels contribute to feelings of well-being, calmness, and focus.
    Endorphin:Endorphins are natural painkillers produced by the body. They are important to the body for managing pain perception and elevating mood. When you experience pain, your body releases endorphins to help you cope with the discomfort.

    Conclusion

    Chocolate cravings during and the days leading up to your periods are a common experience. 

    Hormonal Fluctuations, Neurotransmitter changes, Magnesium Deficiency, and Psychological Factors like Comfort, Culture, and Learned Behavior are the reasons behind craving chocolate during your period.

    Several studies suggest that eating chocolate on your period can uplift your spirits and reduce cramps. 

    Dark Chocolate, which is low in sugar and high in cocoa content, has considerable benefits, like improved heart health, cognitive boost, improved mood and pain-relieving properties. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does chocolate increase blood flow during periods?

    There’s no scientific theory on whether chocolate impacts menstrual bleeding. Some theories suggest that sugar and fat content influence blood sugar levels, leading to a temporary increase in blood flow. However, these effects are minor, and more research is needed to understand the link between chocolate consumption and menstrual bleeding.

    Can I drink hot chocolate during my period?

    Yes, you can definitely enjoy hot chocolate during your period. It can be a comforting and satisfying treat. However, opt for dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content (70% or more) for low sugar and mood-boosting benefits. 

    What are some healthier alternatives to chocolate cravings?

    There are various healthier alternatives of to curb your cravings. Plain yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey can be a protein-packed and satisfying treat. You can even whip up a delicious and filling smoothie by blending fruits, spinach, nut butter, and milk.

    Can I stop myself from craving chocolate?

    While completely stopping chocolate cravings might be a challenge, there are ways to manage them. Focus on a balanced diet throughout your cycle, including protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, to regulate blood sugar. When cravings hit, reach for healthier alternatives like fruits, nuts, or yogurt.

    Can suppressing cravings during my period have negative consequences?

    Suppressing cravings entirely during your period might not be good. Cravings can sometimes signal your body’s need for specific nutrients. Ignoring them could lead to deficiencies. Additionally, constantly denying yourself comfort foods can create stress and make cravings stronger. Listen to your cravings, but choose healthier alternatives when possible.

    Citations:
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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for CheapMedicineShop.com. With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for CheapMedicineShop.com, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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