Monday 19 September 2022

Marla Ahlgrimm On Menstrual Cravings

Those of us with ovaries know the feeling: you’re hungry. You want something salty… maybe something sweet, and you want it now. But, what causes us to go on eating binges in the days leading up to our periods? 
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the answer is hormones. The retired pharmacist, hormone specialist, and self-help author explains that progesterone and estrogen, which are cyclical, are usually the culprits. These hormones can significantly influence metabolism and appetite, which can lead us to standing in front of the pantry or refrigerator with a gnawing hunger. 
Marla Ahlgrimm also explains that a woman’s caloric needs can increase by up to 10% during the luteal phase of her hormone cycle. This is another potential reason for the compulsive cravings. 
Menstrual Cravings Are Not Binge Eating Disorder 
Some women fear that their monthly appetite overdrive is a symptom of binge eating disorder. Fortunately, says Marla Ahlgrimm, it is not, although women with binge eating disorder may find it even more difficult to control during certain parts of their menstrual cycle. 

Binge eating disorder is a diagnosed mental health condition. According to Marla Ahlgrimm its criteria includes eating in secret, continual lack of control where food is concerned, eating rapidly, eating until uncomfortably full, and eating despite not feeling hungry. Women with binge eating disorder may also feel embarrassed and disgusted by the amount of food they consume. 
Carbs And Candy 
Marla Ahlgrimm points out that women with an increased appetite leading up to their periods often crave carbs and sugar. It’s theorized that we crave sugar because our brains instinctively know that it will make us feel good, even if just temporarily. As for carbs…comfort food. Foods full of carbs, such as pasta and bread, are comforting, which is something we all seek when we feel cruddy because of our hormones. 
Iron And Insulin 
Hormones are not the only trigger that may lead us to the junk food aisle. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that women with insulin sensitivity or low iron levels may also crave food more strongly than in other times. 
Reduce The Cravings 
So, is it possible to reduce these cravings? Marla Ahlgrimm says that it is. She first suggests filling up at each meal time with protein, vegetables, and fruits. She also cautions against starting the day with cereal and muffins and recommends eggs, whole wheat toast, and Greek yogurt instead. Lifestyle choices can also help reduce cravings, and Marla Ahlgrimm stresses that eating well, exercising, and hanging onto healthy snacks can also help reduce the empty calories you may consume when you’re feeling ravenous. 
Stress management is another important part of keeping cravings at bay. We may not realize it, but many of us are “stress eaters” and consume snacks when trying to solve a problem or keep our minds off of something negative. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, getting enough sleep can also help to reduce cravings, since your mind is clear and you won’t fixate on your desire for something sweet or salty. 
Marla Ahlgrimm reminds us that cravings are a normal part of the menstrual cycle. While there is nothing wrong with having a few extra calories when your body needs them, she cautions about overdoing it at the table. Overeating can trigger lethargy, weight gain, and sluggishness. And, when you are already trying to fight bloating, fatigue, and cramps, you need all of the energy you can get.


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