Ask the Diva: Why Am I So Hungry During My Period?

Increased appetite and cravings for sweets or carbs during your period? Here's why.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Read time: 2-min

Q. When it's "that time of the month" I feel like my stomach is a bottomless pit. I can eat and eat. I also crave sweets. Is this normal?

A. It's very common to experience an increase in appetite just before or during your menstrual cycle. The hormone changes associated with the menstrual cycle can make you feel hungrier, and the mood changes that sometimes accompany your period might lead you to crave foods that are high in carbohydrates and/or sugar. This effect can be exaggerated in women who experience PMS.  (It just ain't fair...)

You also burn more calories in the days leading up to your period - but don't break out the King Size bag of M&M's just yet. It's an oft-repeated myth that women burn up to 500 extra calories per day during their period. In reality, you probably burn an extra 500 calories per cycle.  And if you cut back on exercise during your period, it might just be a wash.  

When faced with menstrual munchies, try to stick to yummy but healthy foods that fill you up: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods. If the cravings feel emotional, see if you can find other non-caloric ways to lift your mood: take a walk in a beautiful place, schedule a massage, take a yoga class, see a funny movie, or call a favorite friend.

Make sure to get plenty of sleep. Being under-rested can powerfully increase appetite and cravings.chocolate

Finally, treat yourself to an ounce or two of the best quality chocolate you can find! Chocolate contains compounds that lift your mood! 'Nuff said.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.