Cravings before your period? Here’s why

In the week before your menstrual cycle begins, the hormonal activity begins to fluctuate causing intense food cravings, breakouts, and mood swings. 

When you experience food cravings, it is actually a sign that your body is telling you it needs nutrients! Food cravings spike due to a hormonal imbalance occurring; what’s happening is that progesterone and estrogen levels are decreasing, and this is inducing your hunger. 

So why is it that most women get a craving for chocolate?


We crave chocolate just before our periods because at this time our bodies want zinc, and the easiest source of zinc is chocolate. Of course, you can get zinc from fresh veges and especially lettuce, but it’s actually easier for our bodies to get it from chocolate.  If you add some salads to your diet a couple of days before period is due, this will help provide the extra zinc your body needs. Or just eat the chocolate!

Chocolate itself is a prebiotic and promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria in your gut. Moderation is the key though, and darker, lower sugar chocolates contain the most health benefits.

Our hormone levels change throughout the month, and just before our period is when our serotonin ‘feel-good’ hormone levels dip, and our stress hormone ‘cortisol’ levels spikes. The higher-than-usual cortisol levels start affecting the sebum gland, which is responsible for maintaining oil levels on the skin. The rise in cortisol leads to an increase in oil production which is why just before, or during your period the skin can breakout.

There are some foods which can have an almost immediate effect on skin.  These include probiotics and greasy foods.  If you eat either of these right now, within 2 hours your skin will feel the effects. Probiotics give your skin a healthy glow – and greasy foods can lead to breakouts.


For other foods, it’s all about balance.


Soy can actually help your hormones if you eat a little most days.  Soy boosts our estrogen levels, meaning that a little at a time can make us feel great and keep our hormones and skin balanced and healthy. On the contrary eating no soy for weeks and then indulging in a feast of soy protein in one meal can throw our hormones wildly out of balance.

Drinking green tea regularly is really good for your skin. But if you’re not a regular drinker, and then sit down to a full teapot, the green tea will draw out toxins from your body into your skin, resulting in breakouts.

Dairy products can affect hormones as they boost estrogen.  This can throw the whole estrogen/progesterone ratio out, resulting in mood swings, pimples, and inflamed skin. Anything containing sugar is considered an inflammatory food and can alter your hormonal balance and your skin health (as well as your gut health).

Your skin is a living organism with its own unique microflora, so there are some other things you can do to support the health of it:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat fermented foods like kefir
  • Include prebiotics such as yoghurts, kombucha or chocolate in your diet (they’re great for gut and skin health)
  • Exercise the lymph system
  • Cleanse, tone and moisturize your skin properly, morning and night. Your skincare routine is really important for managing skin conditions!

If you have a genetic predisposition to acne or eczema, maintaining a healthy diet will help but may not solve the problem. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something that causes your skin condition to flare up – we’re all human.

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