Craving sweet things is normal, whether it’s after a meal or just at certain hours, we’ve all experienced such cravings, but PMS cravings appear even before a period. So, before your young girl indulges in that slice of cake or chocolate bar, you should help them understand what their body is going through and where this craving comes from.
Sweet things are common period cravings and symptoms of PMS - Premenstrual Syndrome. It’s a combination of physical, mental and behavioral symptoms that women and girls experience before menstruation. For some women, it’s the accumulation of fluid or menstrual cramps, back and stomach pain, various moods like sadness or nervousness and more, while for some it’s the unexplained urge to eat sweet things.
In the past it was thought to be an emotional phenomenon but apparently, some women are more sensitive to changes in oestrogen and progesterone levels in their body. These changes also affect serotonin and dopamine, which are responsible for both mood and satiety. Too little serotonin for example, may cause a young girl to eat more carbs to make up for the lack of it. It’s good to remind them that they are not alone with these cravings, periods just heighten these. Even if their period is irregular, they can still use the cravings to guess when their period it's approaching and stock up on Kotex pads or tampons.
What do you do when you’re craving sweet things?
Now that you know how common this is, you can help them manage these cravings in a healthy way. While it may be hard for them to fight against the craving, it’s not completely impossible, especially if they already know why they crave chocolate on their period.
Sugars and sweets: Having foods that are full of sugar only makes us want to eat more sugars. In other words, chocolate will make your young girl want to eat more chocolate and the craving for sweet things only increases. Complex carbohydrates will soothe that craving and help them feel full so it may be time to replace white bread and Nutella with complex carbohydrates that have multi-sugars like rye bread or spelt bread and a delicious sandwich, granola, whole rice or a whole wheat pasta dish with a delicious sauce.
Dried fruits: Fruits and dried fruits can help in calming the cravings for sweet things since they’re sweet but the sugar in them is broken down differently in the body.
Water: It goes without saying that drinking water is essential, but it turns out that drinking water, hot herbal tea or milk helps to deal with a feeling of craving for sweets. On average, young women should try to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.
Aerobic exercise: Encourage them to go for a walk, a run or any combination of exercise that they love to help manage the physical symptoms of PMS cravings. Exercise increases the production of endorphins, which always do us good in the body.
The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.