Handling the Premenstrual Munchies Without Gaining Weight

The week leading up to that time of the month can be a total killer for your diet. The cravings, the mood swings, and the seemingly uncontrollable munchies seem to be conspiring against your diet.

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It seems so unfair. You are sailing along with your weight loss plan for a few weeks and have lost a pound or two. Then out of nowhere you are hit with the major munchies. Chips? Yes, please. Cookies? You eat five. You’ve just encountered the premenstrual munchies. Here are some ways to handle those annoying munchies that come every month without blowing your diet.

Why does it even happen?

Blame it on mother nature or blame it on the fact you are a female. Whoever you place the blame on, there is a reason for the premenstrual munchies. Scientists theorize the change in blood sugar you experience the week before your cycle starts is partly responsible for your increased appetite. This, combined with normal hormonal changes in the luteal phase of your cycle increases your desire for foods that aren’t exactly healthy.

In fact, a study published in an issue of the “British Journal of Nutrition,” found that women who suffered from premenstrual syndrome were more likely to crave and consume foods high in carbohydrates and simple sugars.

Now that you know why it happens, the key to not letting those munchies undo your hard work is to learn how to control those cravings.

And they can be strong.

I know there are times during the premenstrual period when I find myself standing in the pantry just hoping I’ve got something in there that is junky enough to satisfy the munchie of the moment. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

I’ve had clients tell me they try to resist the munchies by eating something healthy. But instead of being satisfied with a few rice cakes or a handful of raw vegetables they end up eating 300 calories in healthy foods and then eating the cookie or bowl of ice cream they originally wanted.

That’s not good, but it’s real life.

The key to handling premenstrual munchies is twofold.

First, you’ve got to know when they are likely to come and then have a plan for dealing with them.

To know when they are likely to hit you the hardest, take a month to track your cycle and your cravings. Most women tend to have the munchies hit the week before their period hits. Once you know when you are at your most vulnerable, watch for the signs.

What are the signs?

 – Craving salty or sweet foods.

 – Not feeling satisfied no matter what you eat.

 – Having a desire to graze or snack more than you normally do.

What’s a good plan?

I like taking a three-pronged approach to handling the premenstrual munchies. This plan ensures you are addressing the physical, emotional, and practical component of those frustrating cravings.

1. Eat What You Crave

I think it’s better to eat what you really want instead of trying to satisfy your desire for a bit of chocolate with baby carrots. You can spend all afternoon grazing on healthy foods and still feel unsatisfied.

Identify what it is you really want and have some.

2. Eat In Small Quantities

Now, having what you want doesn’t mean you can have as much as you want. You’ve got to commit to eating a small amount of what you really crave so it doesn’t blow your diet.

And if you are craving chocolate or chips, those calories add up quickly. For example, 2 ounces of chips has over 300 calories and a single candy bar can easily have 250 calories or more.

Portion out your food and savor it by eating it slowly.

3. Adjust Your Calorie Intake Accordingly

If you do overeat, do your best to adjust your calorie intake accordingly so you don’t end up eating 1,000 calories more than you need to in order to keep your weight loss going. For instance, if you eat 500 junky calories by “accident,” eat a plain salad with some grilled chicken for dinner instead of a higher calorie meal. Doing this every once in a while won’t hurt you in the least.

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