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Premenstrual Cravings

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -

Ever wondered if your appetite increases before you get your period? Although this shouldn't be an excuse for eating more, it does seem that your body asks for those extra calories.

A study conducted by the University of British Columbia in 1995 revealed what many women had suspected for a long time. During the premenstrual cycle, we tend to have more cravings and consequently eat more.

This is usually the case of women who ovulate during the cycle. The study looked at over 100 women. Surprisingly, those whose body temperature increased (indicating that they were ovulating) consumed more calories during this period than those who did not experience an increase in body temperature and had consequently not ovulated.

Women who use contraceptive methods that limit ovulation do not experience these kinds of premenstrual cravings. The body that does not produce eggs for fertilization does not experience the same urge to eat more. Generally, women who ovulate eat from 250 to 500 calories more during their premenstrual period.
Should you take advantage of this theory to increase your calorie intake? No. The idea is to control cravings that might lead you to put on excess weight, in these and any other circumstances in life.

What can I do?

Eating is without a doubt one of the greatest pleasures of life. Consequently, this is not about living on a perennial diet, but it is a good idea to find a balance between excess and moderation. Nutrition experts offer the following advice:

Don't wait until you're desperately hungry to eat.If you don't plan your meals, you may eat more than people who have a fixed meal schedule. Eating every 3 or 4 hours a day (3 meals plus 2 or 3 snacks), will make you more likely to make sensible food choices, or to think before you eat when those premenstrual cravings come on.

Eat slowly.Your brain needs around 20 minutes to receive the message that you have eaten and are satisfied. Don't ignore your cravings.

Start with a small portion.Wait as long as it takes to figure out whether you really are still hungry.
Buy only one portion of what you want to eat. If you buy a big bag of your favorite cookies or potato chips, it is going to be more difficult to control those excess calories. Treat yourself to a serving of ice cream (2 to 4 ounces) once in a while. Don't buy a gallon.

Curb your food cravings by trying other activities.Ask yourself if you really need to eat something extra. If you decide to do something else (not eat), try one of these activities:
· Call a friend
· Do a crossword puzzle
· Listen to music and dance
· Meditate
· Take your dog out for a walk
· Read a book
· Watch a movie
· Smell flowers and make a flower arrangement
· Water the garden
· Write in your diary
· Clean your house

Remember, exercise is great for staying in shape. It can even alleviate premenstrual cramps and burn rather than accumulate calories.



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