Shanu Shashank

 | 1 minute to read

Could you sync your diet with Menstrual cycle?

One of the most difficult dilemmas that a female would have to face during menstrual cycle is controlling the cravings for a variety of food. This becomes even more troublesome when you are trying to be on a “diet” to lose some weight, restricting and controlling your eating habits.

The question — “Can one be on a structured diet during periods” keeps reverberating around. If yes, then how should one sync up the nutrition? The cravings that keep coming up during this time often leads to a point where they end up having the items, that they were not supposed to. This results in getting agitated and irritated of self and one’s lack of control on taste buds. * Let us first discuss the two major hormones, commonly known as the female hormones (although they are present in men as well, in lower concentrations) — estrogen and progesterone, and what is their importance in a menstruation cycle. * Estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries (adrenal glands also make some estrogen), the hormone that causes a girl to develop into an adult during puberty, creating the changes that cause growth of hair, breasts, etc. Once puberty is complete, estrogen continues to work, helping control the menstrual cycle. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels change. It is at the highest in the middle of the cycle and lowers down during the periods. * On the other hand, progesterone, one of the progestogen hormones is secreted by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that the female body produces after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Its major task is to prepare the endometrium for the potential of pregnancy after ovulation. If the woman does not become pregnant, the corpus luteum breaks down, lowering the progesterone levels in the body. This change sparks menstruation. * Now, any deviations (up/down) in the levels of these two hormones can affect the level of serotonin and lead to Premenstrual syndrome or PMS. When someone goes through some restricted eating approach, there can be changes in the level of these two hormones production. * PMS refers to a collection of symptoms or sensational patterns that women go through around periods; like anxiety, irritability and mood swings. Most likely, it relates to the balance between estrogen and progesterone. If estrogen predominates, anxiety occurs, while the symptoms like getting depressed or showing lack of interest in something could be observed when the progesterone goes high. * Getting fatigued soon, frequent headaches signify different types of PMS. In addition to sugar, women may crave for chocolates, bread, rice, pastries, cakes and similar food items or cuisines. These food cravings may be caused by the increased responsiveness to insulin related hormone levels before menstruation. In this circumstance, women may also experience symptoms of low blood sugar, this their brains signalling the need for fuel(more food). Damn you are off diet and into the same vicious cycle again! However, if you are strong enough, you might even come out winning the battle. So, what to do? * It’s quite important that women should inculcate healthy habits of eating, so that the right kind of nutrients are provided to the body consistently and hence balance between the two hormones is maintained. The most crucial dietary change that can be made is keeping the blood sugar levels steady. Following a diet regime with sufficient carbs can help minimize any unwanted breaks. * Including unrefined starchy carbs, whole grains, brown rice, oats and other complex forms of carbs could be a good option that can help cater to those cravings. * Another way to balance out blood sugar level is to eat a healthy meal or snack every few intervals. (Count the calories and adjust the items accordingly). This not only helps ensure getting the feeling of fullness, but also in avoiding those unnecessary cravings and hunger pangs. * Keeping up with the hydration levels helps in avoiding those menstrual cramps. * Supplementing the body with essential nutrients at this point can be an important factor, too. Omega-3 fatty acids can be used for period pains, providing the body with raw materials required for the production of good prostaglandins. So, getting a fish oil capsule (with good ratio of EPA and DHA) could be advisable. Taking multivitamin and mineral containing good levels of the vitamins B, E and magnesium can be handy too. * To get the maximum benefits, the dietary recommendations need to be done regularly, not just premenstrual; along with regular exercises which can help show long term benefits. So, now you have another reason why you should eat right and exercise regularly! References:

Radhika Mehta Gupta

still how healthy/unhealthy would it be to give in to the sugar cravings once in a while during PMS?

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