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Eating & Your Menstrual Cycle

If you're like most women, you're aware of how your menstrual cycle can influence your eating patterns. For instance, during your period, you might find yourself craving chocolate, while PMS symptoms could lead to a hankering for popcorn. Even cravings can vary from one month to the next, and occasionally, you might experience increased hunger for several days. This is all completely normal.

While many women chalk this up to a peculiar occurrence, there's often a disconnect between recognizing these changes and understanding their root cause. Instead of perceiving these shifts in eating habits as a normal part of the menstrual cycle, some women tend to internalize them as personal weaknesses or a lack of self-control. Let me share a secret with you: it's not.

They might blame themselves for not being disciplined enough or feel guilty for indulging in extra food. Iit's important to note that the fluctuations in eating patterns aren't a reflection of willpower. The truth is, hormones play a significant role in influencing bodily sensations, cravings, and caloric intake. These hormones can alter the sense of fullness, making large meals more or less appealing during specific phases of the menstrual cycle. It's not all in your head. It's your body telling you what it needs.

Addressing Nutritional Considerations Throughout the Menstrual Cycle

If you experience frustration or dissatisfaction with your eating habits while menstruating, one of the most effective steps you can take is becoming aware of your concerns and engage in conversation with a trusted resource such as an experienced coach or a therapist. What you're feeling is completely normal. It's important to understand that experiencing fluctuations in cravings, hunger signals, and eating routines is a natural aspect of a woman's cycle. Your approach does not have to be all-or-nothing. You can reframe the narrative surrounding food and your cycle.

Managing Hormonal Changes

1. Cultivate a habit of eating slowly to foster a greater sense of fullness and discourage overeating. You can do this by allocating at least 20 minutes for each meal, even outside of your menstrual cycle.

2. Get adequate sleep, aiming for seven to nine hours per night. Sleep deprivation is often associated with overconsumption. More sleep not only boosts workout energy but also reduces the likelihood of overindulging.

3. Planning meals and keeping wholesome food readily available makes food decisions easier and helps you ride the waves of cravings, although sometimes those foods simply won't satisfy. If you do need to indulge, slow down and savor the taste, texture and other sensations. Some practical strategies include keeping nutritious snacks on hand, opting for smaller plates and utensils, planning meals, and avoiding buffet-style settings that promote mindless eating. The goal isn't to restrict your food intake or suppress cravings entirely. These techniques are tools to help you manage hunger and cravings while aligning with your personal goals.

4. Track your morning body temperature regularly. A drop in estradiol, a hunger-related hormone, coincides with increased body temperature and a slightly delayed sense of fullness. An elevated appetite is a normal part of your hormonal changes and necessary for your body's changing energy demands.

Although many women are familiar with how their menstrual cycle affects their eating habits, they often struggle to understand the underlying mechanisms. By understanding the role of hormones and utilizing practical strategies for managing fluctuations, you can embrace these monthly changes and cultivate a healthier relationship with your body.

I am a Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach and trans man who has given birth to two now grown children. If you have concerns about my use of gender or language, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

If you would like help navigating the monthly changes or developing a better routine with nutrition, schedule a free consultation here.

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