This Is Why You Crave Sugar On Your Period

Most women know when their period is on the way, and not just because they track it on a period app. The majority of women who have a monthly period experience bodily symptoms. Known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the onset of swift hormonal shifts can cause a collection of monthly discomforts.

The Office on Women's Health reports that over 90% of women observe tender breasts, constipation or diarrhea, headaches, irritability, anxiety, bloating, breakouts, and sugar cravings for about a week or so before their period begins. While not all women experience every sign or even encounter them every month, many women do recognize a handful of recurring symptoms. What happens in your body, roughly during cycle days 21-28, is all in preparation for your uterine lining to shed and your period to be released (via Planned Parenthood).

PMS is all dependent on hormones and those changes can cause some intense sugar cravings.

How hormones affect sugar cravings

During PMS, the hormones estrogen and progesterone dip to their lowest levels, but other chemical changes are also at play. The steroid hormone cortisol abruptly increases, which can leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and on edge. At the same time, the neurotransmitter serotonin reaches new lows, too. That can bring feelings of sadness and apathy or even depression.

These quick hormonal changes can also make you feel more hungry and leave you craving sugar and there's a good reason behind it. Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, who writes about this and other hormonal issues in her book, "Hormone Balance: A Woman's Guide to Restoring Health and Vitality," says (via The Healthy), "This change makes your body crave foods packed with sugar and fat because they help increase levels of serotonin and fight cortisol production, making you feel better and happier."

Another reason that you may crave sugar, and specifically chocolate, is because your body is losing magnesium. "The mineral magnesium is an important serotonin booster. However, magnesium levels drop right before your period," Dean said. According to Healthline, one ounce of dark chocolate contains 64 mg of magnesium, which equates to 16% of the recommended daily allowance. So one full-sized candy bar basically supplies one-third of all the magnesium you need in a day.

How sugar cravings may help your body get what it needs

Another reason that sugar cravings may surface is that you may be deficient in key nutrients, so in addition to requiring more magnesium, you may also need to add in some other supplements. Ob-gyn Dr. Sara Twogood says that women should opt for more calcium-rich food, and complex carbs like whole-grain bread, beans, and lentils (via The Conversation). So if you think your diet is missing nutrients or would just like to boost your nutrient load, Twogood says to consider taking magnesium supplements, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.

However, it may also be true that we are craving chocolate because we consistently deny ourselves of it. According to Scientific American, culture may play a role since Spanish women consume chocolate on a regular basis and report they rarely have chocolate cravings. Yet American women consume much less chocolate and report frequent cravings during PMS.

The bottom line: Go ahead and enjoy some chocolate or a sweet snack during PMS if you feel like it. Just make sure you're eating a balanced diet and getting necessary nutrients throughout the month.