Are My Cravings And Hunger Linked To My Menstrual Cycle?
Hunger is directed by two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that decreases your appetite, while ghrelin is a hormone that increases your appetite. But, did you know that as female hormones fluctuate throughout the cycle, so do hunger and cravings?
How Hormonal Changes During Menstrual Cycle Affect Appetite
When you’re told you have PMS and cravings, it’s all good to know what the symptoms are, but it’s more helpful to know that there is nothing wrong with you. What you are experiencing is normal. Hunger and cravings are the results of your biological changes. Looking at hormonal changes throughout the four phases of the female cycle, you will find that:
- As estrogens levels increase during the follicular phase (day 1 to 14 for an average 28 days cycle), your appetite decreases. Estrogen, namely estradiol, inhibits food intake. There is a direct effect on the brain.
- Estrogen will peak up just before ovulation.
- Falling estrogen causes serotonin levels to drop and cortisol (stress hormone) levels to rise. Added to increased progesterone and testosterone levels, your appetite increases. This is when you ladies may feel the symptoms of PMS coming up, including increased hunger and cravings.
Tips To Understand Your Body’s Need
To make sure that you feel these changes and understand the needs of your body, here are a few exercises I recommend my clients to do:
1. Mind-Body Connection Tools
As you move through your cycles, it is essential to that you tune into your body and understand what those changing hormones bring to your life. Whether you experience more hunger, tiredness, varying energy levels and your socializing skills during that phase.
Tuning into your body and how you feel, and keeping a record of it (through journaling), will give you an idea about what is normal for you, and will make you feel more in tune with your body and your cycles.
2. Feel Your Hunger
It’s very easy to confuse hunger with thirst. As you experience the first pangs of what you think is hunger, drink a glass of water. Then wait until it comes back again and eat, slowly, mindfully, by savoring every bite.
As you eat, ask yourself (and your body) if this is what you need right now and how the food that you eat makes you feel. Tapping into the fuel you feed yourself, will help you make the best decision with regards to what nourishes you and make you thrive. It will also help you achieve a stage of hormonal balance.
3. Tap Into Your Mind
Emotional Freedom Technique (a.k.a. EFT, or Tapping) is my tool of choice when it comes to tackling emotions stored in the body. As they manifest and you don’t know what to do, tapping will help you allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
It will therefore, help release these stored emotions from your body and your subconscious. Sometimes hunger is a manifestation of stress, or stored emotions, and releasing them will help you implement the above tools more easily.
4. Eliminating Common Food Intolerance
Foods that have a tendency to decrease your stamina. They are:
Sugar and artificial sweeteners (that also means alcohols)