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Why you crave chocolate on your period, and what to eat instead

Sugar cravings seem to go into overdrive at that time of the month – you know what we’re talking about… when you feel like eating a WHOLE bar of chocolate to yourself?!

Not only do we feel grumpy, lethargic and sore, but our diet tends to change when we’re on our period.

But why does this happen, and how can we stop ourselves from overindulging in the sweet stuff?

Why do we crave chocolate on our period?

Scientists believe the high hormone levels during the early part of the menstrual cycle cause an increase of insulin in the body.

Insulin regulates your blood glucose levels, and the high level of insulin in your body may result in low blood sugar. And this is why most women crave something sweet, with chocolate usually being the go-to snack.

What’s more, nutritionist Samantha Gemmell says that we also crave magnesium on our period, which is ALSO in chocolate.

“When our period hits, nutrition is usually the first thing to go out of the window, with gals cramming chocolate in like there’s no tomorrow and eating the most indulgent foods they can,” she says.

What to eat that time of the month

Top up your Magnesium Levels

Samantha urges you to put down the chocolate bar and instead reach for a cup of cocoa tea or even try adding cocoa to your smoothies in the morning to help top up your magnesium levels.

Try this recipe for Peanut Butter Cocoa and Banana Smoothie for a quick magnesium a boost.

Samantha says: “You can also increase your magnesium levels with nuts and seeds and green leafy vegetables.”

Increase your intake of ginger

Other food tips Samantha has for that time of the month is to increase ginger in your diet.

“Ginger is a natural painkiller,” she says. “Try ginger tea, add it to stir-fries and even add it to smoothies.”

The Wellness App has heaps of amazing healthy recipes with functional food like ginger to help with inflammation and hormone balancing.

Steamed mussels with lemongrass, ginger and coconut broth

Get this recipe in the Wellness App

Stop Bloating with Potassium

Samantha also suggests eating ‘coconut water and bananas – as potassium is great for women who bloat up due to salt retention.’

Try this recipe for Banana with Brazil nuts from the Wellness App. This recipe will boost metabolism, improve sleep and stabilise mood.

How your period affects how you exercise

While what you eat can have a big affect on how you feel during your period, how you move and exercise can also have an impact.

Even though exercising is usually the last thing on your mind at that time of the month, research has found that women can help alleviate any cramps or period pain if they exercise – and we’re actually stronger and more motivated during this time of the month!

Some women report they have low energy levels during their period, while others believe they have more energy than usual during this time.

Changing hormone levels through the menstrual cycle may be behind this.

Most researchers have not been able to find much of a difference during a woman’s menstrual cycle and her ability to exercise.

How hormones play a huge role in an woman’s energy levels

As a woman reaches ovulation, her oestrogen levels will spike, alongside testosterone, and she may find she has higher energy levels, and exercise might feel easier around this stage.

Other research found that women were stronger, more motivated and worked out harder while they were on their period – those angry PMS hormones can be put to good use!

But best of all, many studies found that exercise can help improve those low moods, and that women tended to have fewer painful cramps during menstruation if they exercise regularly.

The best exercises to do on your period

For many women the first few days may be the most uncomfortable, particularly if you bleed a lot during this time. That’s why cutting back on intense cardiovascular and endurance training is a good idea and instead focussing on gentle movements and lighter exercise.

Yoga and Pilates

This type of exercise can help relax your body and therefore potentially reduce symptoms like cramping, breast tenderness, and muscular fatigue and soreness. Many women also say that yoga and pilates calms their mind and lifts the feeling of period fog.

Even if you opt for slow and restorative yoga poses as gentle way of keeping your practise going and body moving, you will still release endorphins and can experience a body high, which can be extra relieving during your period.

Light Walking and Light Cardio

Lower your cardiovascular and aerobic exercise and opt for light cardio or walking instead. Up the intensity gradually as there is research supporting the idea that your lungs work better later in your cycle so consider keeping that type of training for the end of your period.

Listen to your body

If you’re not feeling any discomfort from your period, there’s no reason why you can’t continue with your regular exercise routine. Just listen to your body and be mindful of the adjustments it makes during this time. If you feel like your body is resisting and not performing like it usually does, give yourself a break and ease up on the intensity.

The most important thing is that you’re kind and gentle to yourself during this time of the month.

Get Access to Hormone Balancing Recipes and Gentle Yoga workouts in the Healthy Mummy Wellness App

The Healthy Mummy Wellness app is built to support mums’ mental, physical and social wellbeing. We have expert advice to help mums makeover their minds, transform their mood, manage their hormones, sleep better and engage with their family. You can listen to podcasts, read blogs, work out with our trainers and find healthy, family-friendly recipes from the palm of your hand.

Get the Healthy Mummy Wellness App here

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