The Truth About Chocolate And Your Period
About 70% of people experience multiple period symptoms throughout their cycle, including cramps and bloating. Food cravings are also common, with many people suddenly desiring salty snacks or sugar-rich chocolates.
So, if you end up craving a giant chocolate bar during your period, you're not alone! But what is it about menstruation that causes us to start craving chocolate?
Well, let's unpack the truth about chocolate and your period - together!
Should I Eat Chocolate During My Period?
One of the most common questions that people ask themselves during a period is, "Should I be eating chocolate right now?"
A tiny bit of chocolate can do wonders for your body and mind, especially if you're feeling a little down in the dumps. That's because chocolate triggers a release of endorphins, commonly called your body's "feel-good" chemicals.
Most types of chocolate also contain sugar, a compound known for providing a boost of energy and a nifty dopamine boost. As such, it's not hard to understand why chocolate is a go-to snack during your period - it's literally a mood booster in a wrapper!
But, if you're a fan of milk chocolate, we have some sad news to share. This type of chocolate isn't the best option for relieving period symptoms - it can actually make them worse (devastating, we know)!
How, you ask? Milk chocolate contains high levels of milk solids, and milk solids contain fats. Eating foods with lots of fats can release prostaglandins that actually worsen cramps. As such, it's best to opt for an alternative to milk chocolate while menstruating - like dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate doesn't contain milk solids and instead contains a high percentage of cocoa. In addition to containing antioxidants, cocoa doesn't contain sugar. As such, it's less likely to trigger or worsen cramps.
Dark chocolate can also help you manage blood sugar levels during your period, keeping you alert and energized!
Types of Chocolate and How They Impact Your PeriodNot all chocolates are equally beneficial, so it's an excellent idea to consider your chocolate of choice before snacking. For example, the three primary types of chocolate are:
- Milk Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate
- White Chocolate
But only one of these chocolate types is highly recommended for people suffering from PMS symptoms.
Milk chocolate contains milk solids, sugar, and a comparatively low percentage of cocoa solids. It has a sweet taste and may be softer than dark chocolate. However, milk chocolate can actually worsen your period symptoms.
Dark chocolate is the best type of chocolate to enjoy during your period. It's often bitter or bittersweet. You can freely indulge in this type of chocolate at any time of the month!
Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa, a compound rich in antioxidants. It's also relatively low in fats, especially saturated fats. So, if possible, this option is better for you and your cramps than milk chocolate.
White ChocolateWhite chocolate is, unfortunately, the worst type of chocolate to eat during your period. That's because it contains zero cocoa, the beneficial component found in dark and milk chocolate (BRB crying).
Why Do I Crave Chocolate During My Period?
By the time you're a young adult, you're likely familiar with the typical warning signs of your period. For many, the first PMS red flags (pun intended) are period cramps and period cravings.
But what causes these intense sensations? The answer is typically hormones—or a lack thereof.
Hormone Changes and Insulin Levels
Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that fluctuate according to your monthly menstrual cycle. These hormones are responsible for kick-starting ovulation and maintaining your reproductive health.
For example, low estrogen levels can make you feel tired, irritable, or depressed. On the other hand, low progesterone levels can lead to painful headaches, a lowered sex drive, and sudden mood shifts.
The point at which these hormones are their lowest levels is during your period. Consequently, an absence of estrogen and progesterone may be the reason why you experience tiredness and mood changes during your period.
If you tend to break out during your period, you might also be able to place the blame on hormones! That's because low estrogen levels typically go hand-in-hand with higher testosterone levels, which contribute to acne.
But these hormones, most notably estrogen, can also contribute to sudden chocolate cravings. That's because estrogen impacts your body's ability to use insulin, a chemical responsible for processing and utilizing sugar.
When your estrogen level is low (like during your period), your body can't use sugars like it usually can. As a result, you may crave sweet foods like chocolate.
Ways to Combat Low Blood Sugar
The best way to combat low blood sugar levels is to enjoy carb-rich foods or sweet snacks.
Fortunately, the best PMS foods can satisfy your sugar craving without affecting your period symptoms. Still, if you're struggling with painful cramps or heavy bleeding, healthy sugar-rich foods may not be enough.
Consult with your gynaecologist to determine whether you might be dealing with endometriosis.
Alternatives to Chocolate During Period
Are you looking for a healthier alternative to chocolate? If so, you have plenty of options!
You can enjoy a quick boost of natural sugars by munching on a handful of fresh fruit or by snacking on some dairy products. Not sure which ones might be best during your period? Let's find out!
Fresh FruitsWhen replacing chocolate with fresh fruit, it's an excellent idea to choose fruits that naturally have high levels of sugars. After all, you might crave chocolate during your period because of low blood sugar.
Some of the tastiest sugar-rich fresh fruits to try include:
- Passion Fruit
Dairy ProductsIf you're able to consume dairy products (i.e., not allergic to lactose), you might want to consider pouring yourself a tall glass of milk during your period. After all, lactose is a type of sugar!
That said, it's best to avoid high-fat dairy. Foods rich in fat can cause your uterus to contract more strongly and more regularly, worsening your period cramps. Consequently, it's best to stick with:
- Low-fat or fat-free milk
- Plain fat-free yoghurt
- Fat-free cottage cheese
- Part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Part-skim ricotta cheese
Take Charge of Your Period Cravings
If you're craving chocolate during your period, it's best to stick with dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains more fat and sugar than dark chocolate, and these can make your period symptoms worse.
You could also opt to enjoy sugar-rich fresh fruits like ripe bananas, apples, grapes, and watermelon. If you're not lactose-intolerant, you may also want to snack on dairy products like milk and low-sugar yoghurts.
AWWA period undies can also help you feel more comfortable during your cycle. Be sure to take the Know Your Flow quiz today to find a pair!