Cravings & Self-Love: What To Eat on Your Period
"Whether I'm craving chocolate, dark chocolate, or even something as simple as sauteed spinach, I honor my period cravings by giving myself the permission to feel pleasure in what I'm eating.
I have had a combative or fearful relationship with many things, like money or saying I love you, but not with food.
At my childhood dinner table there were no words of advice or stories. Not a lot of laughter. Not a lot of fun. That's the truth, and it was pretty traumatizing. But the one thing that my mom and dad did do for me is feed me – feed me really, really well.
Thus, food was my first ever love language." – Leiti Hsu
We’re all about practicing self-love – especially when it comes to managing your period symptoms.
“Don’t give into your carb cravings!”
“Avoid spicy foods”
“Stay away from coffee on your period”
“Satisfying cravings is just a placebo effect…”
There’s a LOT of advice given to us menstruators when it comes to What To Eat On Your Period...
Jenna Longoria, FDN-P, is the August Medical Board’s resident Nutritionist. Whenever we ask her questions from our community, she likes to remind us that it’s your period so, if it makes you happy, lean into those cravings (in moderation). Especially, if it’s going to make your menstrual experience a more positive one!
Remember, every body is different and so your eating habits, or period cravings, likely won’t look the same as somebody else’s.
Cravings are actually one of the most common symptoms of PMS.
Hormones and neurotransmitters point your body towards things that will boost its serotonin (a chemical that boosts feelings of happiness).
Most commonly, starchy foods and sweets will activate the release of serotonin. Unfortunately, they could also trigger hormone imbalances which could affect anything from mood swings to acne to menstrual cycle duration.
Instead of boosting your serotonin levels by strictly eating chips & cookies, try some other mood-boosting activities like:
- Calling a friend
- Listening & dancing to music!
- Self-care (or self-pleasure iykyk)
- Or scrolling through August’s TikTok page full of relatable period memes😉🤔
Our diet directly impacts our period.
If you’re curious, Jenna laid out some really key foods to eat, and to stay away from, if you want to avoid menstrual cramps, acne, and bloating.
Here’s a quick list (but click here to find out the reasons why for each food item):
- Dark chocolate
- Low-fat or dairy-free products
- Coconut oil, butter, avocado, olive oil
- Salmon & sardines
- Broccoli and bok choy
- Herbal teas
- Drink lots of water!
- Butter & cream
- Potato chips and other carby foods
- High fat & sugary foods
- Coffee and other caffeinated items
We asked our Inner Cycle community members about their experience with period cravings. Here’s what they had to say:
Anna Peiru (she/her): “My go to craving is usually chocolate or something with carbohydrates but sometimes I want salty snacks too. [My cravings] don't change throughout the cycle.
The science behind [cravings] has to do with hormonal changes but I don't know much more than that!”
Jocelyn Kemp (she/her): “My go-to cravings usually are pretty healthy while on my period but leading up to my period are usually very unhealthy. I just ovulated recently and they’ve actually stayed pretty healthy from my last period. I crave lots of fruit and protein, occasionally some vegetables and ice cold water!”
Adriana Juárez (she/her): “My cravings are always something spicy but I also crave the classic chocolate, and for some reason I also really crave carbonation!
Mine definitely changes throughout the cycle, usually when I am closer to my period I crave carbonation more because I am more nauseous.
I always understood that these cravings were due to the hormonal changes and maybe the lack of things (like vitamins), but I would love to know more about them, and if having cravings actually help or if it’s just placebo!”
Diana Rodriguez (she/her): “For me, it’s all about sweets during my period and salty before my period. I think my cravings do change each cycle especially since my body is just adjusting to a cycle now (PCOS).
I want to know what foods/cravings are good for our periods? Because my doctor has told me to not eat dairy or chocolate on my period due to my PCOS, which makes it more painful.”
Read this for a list of ideal foods to eat during your period: Let’s Talk About Period Cravings
Catelynne Smith (she/her): “I’d say for the most part, before my period, it's sweets. While on my period I keep it healthy (A LOT of water, fruits, veggies, probiotics, etc) since I know the less nutritious foods will only slow down the process or functionality of my cycle and give me really bad cramps.
[Although] when I get a sweet craving during my period I deflect it with some dark chocolate paired with walnuts or pecans/cashews and MORE water😅”