Let's face it—most of us overeat when we're hormonal.
Have you ever found yourself eating a pint of ice cream on your period? Do you have a non-stop chocolate fest when you're PMS-ing? Once you start, do you find it hard to stop? If so, you're definitely not alone.
All month long, the chemistry of our bodies is shifting and changing, much like the phases of the moon. Our menstrual cycle brings us through four phases:
1. The Follicular phase (the first week, when we are most energized);
2. The Ovulatory phase (3 days to 1 week, when we release our eggs, tend to feel most attractive, and when our communication skills are at their peak);
3. The Luteal phase (1 week to 10 days, when we move from a more outward-focused energy towards a more inward-focused state of being, and begin to experience PMS symptoms towards the end); and,
4. The Menstrual phase (3 days to 1 week, when we release the uterine lining and bleed. Energy during this time is inward, and sensitivities to sound, light, and psychic vision are heightened).
It's very easy to experience intense cravings for foods (especially chocolate, sweets, and other comforting treats) during times of dramatic hormonal shifts, especially right before menstruation when progesterone and estrogen levels drop.
For me, I tend to crave chocolate and sweets as a way to supplement energy and bring myself "back to life" when I'm feeling sluggish and tired from hormonal changes. Plus, certain foods can be comforting when I'm feeling extra sensitive.
As much as I practice allowing myself to rest and honor the energy changes in my cycle, I still struggle with wanting to be consistently productive in my business and "on" for others. I am still letting go of old, masculine-based concepts of what it means to be a successful, worthwhile member of society. And eating chocolate and sweets is usually an expression of me pushing my body to perform when I really need to rest.
The more I look into the link between chocolate, sweets, and our hormones, the more I realize that the link is more cultural than biological.
According to one study, "researcher Julia Hormes [concludes] that chocolate craving might actually be a response to the stress of the oncoming bleeding, and that chocolate is a culturally reinforced way to deal with that stressor."
Dr. Amy Jo Stavnezer says, "Our culture sets the stage for cravings, in a sense, by consistently presenting the message of dietary restraint, but then providing frequent holidays and circumstances where increased caloric intake is the norm. Experience teaches us that 'that time of the month' is a set of special circumstances when giving into a chocolate craving will be met with understanding rather than guilt and shame." [Source: Psychology Today]
If you experience intense cravings around your period, I invite you to check in with what is really going on. Are you tired and need to take a day off? Are you feeling anti-social and need to stay in? Do you need to cancel your date/meeting/party and honor your energy levels? Are you experiencing powerful psychic visions that seem scary, and food is an easy way to feel normal again? Does the discomfort in your body make you feel so helpless that eating to the point of pain at least gives you a sense of control?
If you do indulge, please be kind to yourself. The last thing you need on your period is to beat yourself up.
If you want a treat, make sure it's exactly what you want. Don't start with carrots and hummus (unless you want them)—ask your friend to pick you up a slice of chocolate cake from your bakery (if that's what you really want).
Sit down, eat slowly, and enjoy each bite. The more you are attuned to the experience of pleasure, the more able you'll be able to feel when eating is no longer pleasurable, and you're more likely to be able to stop.
The more you beat yourself up, the harder it is to stop. This is because when you're attuned to the vibration of discomfort, you are more likely to perpetuate discomfort, and you'll keep eating in an attempt receive the satisfaction you seek.
No matter what you do, remember to give yourself a break. Our experience as women is different than men. We don't have the same consistent levels of energy that they do, and why would we want that anyway? Our cycles and changes are powerful and amazing, and we can use them to our advantage. Each phase gives us special super powers as women. You can learn more about them in the book, The Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.
If you're experiencing discomfort and confusion on your cycle, would like support in cultivating your own intuitive abilities and super powers as a woman, or want support in your relationship to food, let's set up a pressure-free Discovery Call to learn more about my program and see if we'd be a good fit.