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4 Tips to Tackle Hormonal Cravings

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That Time of the Month

You know what I’m talking about: Yep, it is THAT week and you are RAVENOUS, HANGRY and wanting to eat ALL the things.

You are using a Snickers bar to eat your ice cream and that bag of potato chips, oh so salty and crunchy, is your new best friend.

Sound familiar? You are not alone.

Hormonal cravings are a very real thing. And, this does NOT mean you are “broken” or suffer from a lack of willpower. These cravings are 100% normal for women of menstruating age.

When these cravings strike:

….Have you ever wondered what exactly is going on and why, like clockwork, these cravings hit hard and make you feel this way?

…Did you know there are physiological reasons behind hormonal cravings?

Despite chalking up the whole cravings bit as something that “just happens” every month, as women it is important we understand what is happening and why our bodies are responding this way.

Why does this matter?

It can be very easy to get down on ourselves about indulging in period-driven cravings. You indulge, feel momentarily satisfied but those moments are immediately followed by guilt, shame and regret. And, that mindset only perpetuates an unhealthy relationship with food and and fills you up with negative self-talk.

No one wants to feel that way, nor should you.

What we need more of? Positive self-talk and a healthier relationship with food so in this blog, we are talking ALL things hormones and cravings so you can FINALLY:

#1. Understand what’s really going on

#2. Why it’s all happening

#3. Learn and start putting to practice these 4 tips for tackling your cravings

At the end of this blog, you will feel more confident when it comes to how to control and manage your cravings. And, you will understand how to make better choices so you don’t feel deprived, are fully satisfied and still on path for reaching your goals!


The Science Behind Cravings

Each month our bodies experience a series of phases related to our menstrual cycles. These phases include: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase [it’s like 6th grade health all over again!].

  • During each phase, our hormone levels change and these changes directly affect how we feel overall.

  • Now, for some women, cravings and appetite changes occur when experiencing what is commonly referred to as “PMS” during the luteal phase. This is the phase occurring just before menstruation.

  • For others, that noticeable change in appetite and cravings begins during menstruation. It is important to note these changes can also occur during either phase and may even switch month to month.

These hormonal shifts you are experiencing throughout each phase has a direct impact on your appetite and thus the driving force behind your cravings. Once again, this is totally normal!

And, you know your body best and may want to begin tracking your symptoms in order to prepare for the following month (more on this below).

So, now that you have the science part down, let’s talk what continues getting in our way: cravings!


The Intense Cravings….

First, let’s be very clear: foods are not “good” or “bad”.

Some foods are simply better for you than others and your goal is to choosing those better for you options 80% of the time. That 80% keep you on target to be healthy and reach your goals while providing that healthy, happy balance to enjoy the other foods in moderation!

How do you choose the better for you foods? By prioritizing REAL foods first!

Along with the quality of your food choices, quantity is also important. Eating foods in the appropriate portion sizes keeps you feeling satisfied longer while giving your body the energy it needs to perform important functions such as menstruation.

Now, as a woman, I get it. Your cravings likely don’t include carrot sticks and grapes but instead, all the other stuff like chips, pretzels, pizza, French fries, cookies, candy, chocolate everything!

This blog isn’t to say NEVER eat those things again. This blog is to help you understand how your body responds and why so you can become more conscious of your choices while developing a healthier relationship with food and yourself (it’s ALL about becoming a healthier YOU!).

If you are concerned about over-indulging and need tips for tackling those intense cravings, keep reading!


4 Tips to Tackle Cravings

When it comes to tackling your cravings so you can create a healthier relationship with food, the focus is about controlling what you can control, making better for your choices and being prepared.

If that time of the month leaves you feeling “a certain way” for eating the foods you try to otherwise eat in moderation, here are 4 tips for tackling hormonal cravings.

#1. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING: As always, eat your meals slowly and mindfully. Really take the time to taste and chew each bite of food. Did you know when you eat, your brain needs a few minutes to catch up to your stomach? By slowing down, you are allowing your body time to recognize fullness cues and this prevents overeating. If you eat too fast, your brain isn’t able to process how satisfied/full you are until it’s too late and you’ve reach the point of being bloated and in pain.

This goes for regular meals as well as snacks. Crunchy, salty snacks that taste uber-good when cravings hit, are hyper-palatable meaning they cause you to eat waaaayyyyy more than you need or intend to.

#2. PRIORITIZE SLEEP: Aim for 7-9 hours of QUALITY sleep per night on a regular basis. Sleep is underrated and often the missing link in the arsenal of “how do I reach my goals”. We have been programmed to think less is more and we can function without.

Let me break it down for you: SLEEP impacts EVERYTHING! Scientific research has proven lack of sleep can lead to increased cravings and weight gain. Once again, this is where hormones come into play. Hormones directly effect your appetite/hunger and lack of sleep can directly effect your hormones. Talk about a vicious cycle!

#3. BE PREPARED! Begin by identifying trigger foods. If you know you are going to crave Oreos and cannot control your portion sizes, opt out of buying them. Another tactic is buying single-serving portions of your trigger foods. This is the next best option knowing you can still enjoy without over doing it .

The goal here is not to restrict yourself, but to practice mindful portion control. This is also the perfect time to meal plan and prep so those better for you options are readily accessible when cravings hit. You are a victim of your environment so, be proactive when it comes having plenty of healthy options on hand. Cravings or not, what you eat and how much you eat is a choice so set yourself up for success in advance!

Better for you examples: Eating those better for you options doesn’t have to feel boring and any less enjoyable. Take note of the foods/flavors you crave, be creative and do some research to create a better for your version/option. For example:

  • Craving salty AND sweet? A great go to is plain Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of Fairlife Chocolate Milk or chocolate protein powder mixed with crushed nuts, creamy nut butters or powdered peanut butter. Greek yogurt takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with so be creative. You can also make this and freeze for later!

  • Broil a banana. Bananas are naturally sweet so when broiled, you get a caramelized, filling treat! Slice the ‘naner length wise and place on pan / foil place under the broiler for 8-10 minutes (keeping an eye on it). Once it’s to your preferred texted, remove from the oven, drizzle with your favorite nut butter and top off with cinnamon, nutmeg or Allspice.

  • Longing for that greasy slice of ‘za or a cheeseburger? How about a deconstructed cheeseburger bowl? Cook your burger and make it one- step better by serving it over a leafy bed of greens, roasted buffalo cauliflower and / or roasted potatoes. Top off with your favorite burger condiments like mustard, ketchup, grilled onion tomato, avocado, fried egg and chow!

  • For pizza, start by using a tortilla. You can get it nice and crispy by placing in a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes. As you see it “brown”, add your sauce and toppings. Nature’s Basket chicken sausage at Giant Eagle is a great protein option and comes in tons of flavors. Pick your fave and have at it!

  • Want ice cream and chocolate all day long ?! Try a smoothie bowl! The texture is spot on with ice cream and whether its chocolate or another flavor you are craving, you can easily tweak based on what you love. You can Google tons of recipes but check out my bomb-a$$ smoothie bowl recipe now for a healthier version: BOMB A$$ SMOOTHIE BOWL — Results Fitness (resultsfitnessforlife.com)

#4. TRACK YOUR SYMPTONS: The average menstrual cycle is typically 28 days. While some of us can set a clock to our cycle, others may have a broader range of days in-between or, more sporadic cycles.

  • Regular Cycle:: If you fall into the first category, great! Begin planning ahead for the following month by meal planning and prepping to offset when your cravings will kick in. Use the examples from above to marry the flavors you enjoy most with a healthier, better for you version.

  • Sporadic Cycle: If you are in the more sporadic group, begin by tracking your monthly symptoms to get a better grasp on when to expect changes in hunger and appetite.

    • One of the easiest ways to track is monitoring your body temperature. When estradiol (hormone directly related to hunger and satiety) drops, your body temperature will increase. When you see a jump in body temperature, expect to see an increase in hunger and appetite.

    • This is also an indicator your body may need a bit more energy (food) at that time. Once again, be mindful of portions. While a slight increase in calories may be needed at this time, that does not mean you want to indulge in all of your cravings at once and have a free-for-all. Doing so can make you feel sluggish or worsen digestive issues and menstrual cramps.

    • Use the examples from above when preparing and planning meals and snacks to create that healthier, better for you version.


Along with all of the above, be aware that menstrual cycles may also cause your body weight to fluctuate anywhere from 3-5 pounds on average. Again, totally normal. This increase in weight is typically caused by water retention. and generally goes away in a few days after the start of a period.

If seeing an increase in weight is triggering for you, than maybe stay off of the scale for that week in order to keep a positive mindset.

So remember, when cravings strike during the phases mentioned above, you are not broken. You do not have a lack of willpower. You are human and your body is hard at work. This may require a bit of a change in your daily habits.

Take the time to try and apply at least one tip for tackling your cravings. Take the time to become more mindful of how you feel and how your body responds. Be prepared and find creative ways to satiate your cravings with better for you options. Aim for eating real foods 80% of the time while enjoying the other stuff in moderation.

Finally, remember to be kind to yourself and allow yourself some grace those few days each month.


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