Tips to manage your PMS cravings

Menstruation in women begins at puberty and continues till menopause. This span of almost 38 years denotes the reproductive phase of female life.  The lining of the uterus gets thickened and ready to host the ovum to get fertilised, the failure of which triggers the discharge of the ovum and lining as menstrual blood through the vagina. The flow of menstrual fluid may continue for 3 to 7 days ending the cycle.

Menstrual hygiene:

The maintenance of menstrual hygiene is the most important aspect of coping with menstruation due to its major impact on female health. But superstitions, social prejudices, ignorance, apathy along with accessibility to cost-effective menstrual products limit adequate adherence to hygiene. According to the National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, only 77% of urban women and 47% rural women use sanitary pads during menstruation. This depicts a grim picture of the disparity and inadequacy towards awareness of menstrual hygiene

Disposal of menstrual products:

The harsh reality of the deficiency in menstrual hygiene is not restricted to use of pads alone, but also to the changing it with fresh ones after every few hours. The disposal of used sanitary pads is equally important to obviate spread of infection apart from the grave environmental hazard that it poses. Disposable sanitary pads contain 90% plastics, making it a major component of environmental pollution as they do not decompose.

While aggressive promotion of menstrual products is necessary, the need of the hour is to encourage the use of biodegradable sanitary pads and eco-friendly sanitary napkin. This can be achieved by replacing plastics with chemical-free natural materials like bamboo, jute, banana fibre in the manufacture of sanitary napkins to boost the maintenance of menstrual hygiene naturally.

Pre Menstrual Syndrome:

Hormonal activity induces ovulation and uterus prepares for fertilization of the egg. Just after ovulation, women suffer from varied physical and emotional symptoms termed as PMS. The unexplained onset of PMS and its severity differ in individuals which dissipate on its own as the cycle culminates.

Cause of Pre Menstrual Syndrome:

The precise cause of PMS remains unknown, but there is a strong indication that heightened hormonal activity resulting in an imbalance of Estrogen and Progesterone may be the primary cause of PMS. There are some common characteristics to give credence to this theory:

  • Symptoms in women suffering from PMS keep repeating at specific points in the menstrual cycle.
  • Absence of PMS during pregnancy.
  • Severe symptoms at puberty or menopause when the hormonal activity is at its peak.

Symptoms of Pre Menstrual Syndrome:

In general, you may classify the symptoms of PMS as physical and emotional. The common symptoms are:

  • Physical symptoms:
    • Swelling and tenderness of breasts.
    • The Occurrence of cramps.
    • Backache and headache.
    • Bloating and dyspepsia.
    • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Emotional symptoms:
    • Mood swings.
    • Disruption of sleep pattern.
    • Feeling listless.
    • Craving for food.
    • Low sex drive.
    • Depression and anxiety.
    • Lack of concentration.

Tips to manage Pre Menstrual Syndrome cravings:

The predictability of cravings equips you sufficiently to ease it and avoid forced binge.  Some of the tested measures are:

  • Spacing your meals: Spread your three regular major meals into six smaller meals to help regulate your blood sugar metabolism in order to suppress your craving.
  • Eat complex Carbohydrates: Ensure a diet containing complex carbs which take long to assimilate. Foods like whole grain cereals, legumes, fruits, starch- rich vegetables can curb your appetite.
  • Protein-rich diet: Animal protein available in eggs, chicken, turkey etc. can slow the digestive process and prolong food satiety.
  • Ensure magnesium intake: Foods like brown rice, almonds, cashews, beans etc. can restore magnesium balance which gets lowered in women suffering from PMS.
  • Reduce Stress: Cravings can aggravate if you are stressed. Relaxation and deep breathing can lessen your stress and in turn, reduce food craving.
  • Absorb sunlight: The reduced serotonin levels due to PMS can be restored by soaking in the sun to negate sugar and carb craving.

Activity is the best medicine: Being active through the day can increase endorphins to temper your appetite. It will further burn the extra calories that you may have imbibed due to your PMS induced food craving.

Relief from Pre Menstrual Syndrome:

The mode of relief depends on the severity of PMS. For severe complications, you need to consult your doctor. For mild symptoms, you may try some home relief measures, such as:

  • Regular aerobic exercise to ease depression, fatigue and improve concentration.
  • Adopt a regular healthy di-et.
  • Take enough rest and sleep during your menstrual cycle.
  • Meditation and yoga to act as stress busters.
  • Avoid smoking as it may otherwise worsen the symptoms.
  • OTC pain relievers can help you cope with headache or backache.

Cravings and Pre Menstrual Syndrome:

There is every possibility that you will experience intense food craving a week or two prior to your menstruation. Some scientists believe that imbalance in the sex hormones affect your sugar metabolism triggering food craving to satiate your ravenous appetite.  Another reason could be lowering of serotonin level during menstruation. Women suffering from PMS are better prepared to deal with food cravings as the symptoms are predictable.

sanitary napkins for periods

Tips to manage Pre Menstrual Syndrome cravings:

The predictability of cravings equips you sufficiently to ease it and avoid forced binge.  Some of the tested measures are:

  • Spacing your meals: Spread your three regular major meals into six smaller meals to help regulate your blood sugar metabolism in order to suppress your craving.
  • Eat complex Carbohydrates: Ensure a diet containing complex carbs which take long to assimilate. Foods like whole grain cereals, legumes, fruits, starch- rich vegetables can curb your appetite.
  • Protein-rich diet: Animal protein available in eggs, chicken, turkey etc. can slow the digestive process and prolong food satiety.
  • Ensure magnesium intake: Foods like brown rice, almonds, cashews, beans etc. can restore magnesium balance which gets lowered in women suffering from PMS.
  • Reduce Stress: Cravings can aggravate if you are stressed. Relaxation and deep breathing can lessen your stress and in turn, reduce food craving.
  • Absorb sunlight: The reduced serotonin levels due to PMS can be restored by soaking in the sun to negate sugar and carb craving.

Activity is the best medicine: Being active through the day can increase endorphins to temper your appetite. It will further burn the extra calories that you may have imbibed due to your PMS induced food craving.

Bottom line:

It makes sense to treat PMS as just one of the consequences of a biological phenomenon and keep it natural. The incidence of PMS is very common among women, and about 5 to 7% of women suffer severe symptoms. It is important to maintain menstrual hygiene by using biodegradable sanitary pads and eco-friendly sanitary napkin. Manage your food craving with minor changes in lifestyle and habits to remain a productive and healthy individual.