My Basic Premenstrual Problems:
Death cramps, extreme hunger, wild mood swings, and muscle aches.
Most of you reading this will not be surprised at my list – 80% of women report having PMS symptoms. Therefore, I am not the exception. In fact, a couple of days ago in between a handful of popcorn and a spoonful of peanut butter, I asked myself: why am I so insatiably hungry? Is this a normal PMS symptom – and if so, why?
I loved the answers I found. You know why? Because we’ve come to expect feeling crappy for a week – but now we can figure out why, and what we can do about it. Let’s start right here, with this post.
So what kind of changes does the body actually go through premenstrually? Here’s the breakdown:
Did you also know: premenstrually, a woman’s basal metabolic rate, or BMR, increases. Because you are burning more calories, this sends a signal to your body to also send in more. If you’ve ever had that “bottomless pit” symptom of PMS, you know just what I mean.
The descending estrogen levels is what throws off serotonin. Serotonin is a feel good hormone, and a lack of this can lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability. In turn, we tend to look for carbohydrate and sugar heavy foods to boost our mood – hence the insatiable hunger and intense chocolate cravings.
But there might be another reason for that chocolate craving: magnesium. Cacao is high in magnesium, which is in high demand during PMS. Magnesium can help with the muscle aches and cramping associated with PMS and menstruation.
So what can you do about it?
- Eat lots of nutrient dense foods – the vitamins and minerals in nutrient dense foods (think brightly coloured fruits and vegetables) not only help support depletions during menstruation, but they also help the body deal with premenstrual stress.
- Take a epsom salt bath – Epsom salts are high in magnesium. Magnesium is in high demand premenstrually, and as mentioned can help relax muscles and reduce cramping.
- Go for a walk – Exercise can help to boost your mood by releasing endorphins, with bonus points if you can do this outside.
- Eat extra – yes, you read that correctly. If your body is in demand for more calories, then give it more calories! You don’t have to go haywire – but 200-300 extra calories might just be enough to keep you feeling energetic and reduce the possibility of your mood falling down in the dumps.
Most importantly: go easy on yourself! Your body is amazing and is taking on a lot. Don’t feel too badly if you’re moody, needed a nap, or ate that extra piece of chocolate cake. Take care of yourself.
I’m curious to hear from you, reader! Do you get bad PMS symptoms? What do you do for it? Please feel free to share in the comments below!