DO you get what I call the monthly munchies? Many women crave chocolate in particular when they’re pre-menstrual, which suggests there can be a hormonal basis for it. When we eat sweet and high-fat foods, including chocolate, serotonin is released, making us feel happier.
This partly explains the cravings common in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pre-menstrual syndrome.
A report I read in the New Scientist magazine suggests people can become overly dependent on the sugar and fat in fast food, especially at certain times of the month.
Princeton University researcher Dr. John Hoebel found that rats fed on sugar became anxious when the sugar was removed.
Their symptoms included chattering teeth and the shakes – similar to those seen in people withdrawing from nicotine or morphine. Dr. Hoebel believes high-fat foods stimulate opioids or “pleasure chemicals” in the brain. This theory is backed up by many other studies.
Chocolate contains several biologically active ingredients, all of which can cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations like those of other addictive substances.
Researchers at the University of Tampere in Finland found that self-proclaimed chocolate “addicts” salivated more in the presence of chocolate, and showed a more negative mood and higher anxiety.
The researchers state that chocolate addicts show traits of regular addiction, because they exhibit craving for chocolate, irregular eating behaviour, and abnormal moods.
However there is hope! Researchers believe that chocolate “addiction” is not a true addiction. While chocolate does contain potentially mood-altering substances, these are all found in higher concentrations in other less appealing foods such as broccoli.
So one way to conquer the munchies when you;’re pre-menstrual is to have a ready supply of fresh food snacks – like broccoli or carrot spears – on hand to help.
A combination of chocolate’s sensory characteristics — sweetness, texture and aroma — nutrients, and chemicals, together with hormonal and mood swings, largely explains chocolate cravings.
Chocolate is seen as “naughty but nice” — tasty, but something which should be resisted. This suggests that the desire is more likely a cultural phenomenon than a physical one. The inability to control eating may be a result of inborn traits and today’s environment.
“Humans used to have to search for food,” according to Baylor College of Medicine researcher Dr. Ken Goodrick, “Now food searches us out.”
Of course, one easy way to stop eating chocolate when you’re pre-menstrual is to enrol on the Slimpod habit-changing programme. Many people report remarkable results.