Why Do I Have Food Cravings Before My Period?

July 28, 2020 ,

As a woman, it must have happened to you before to have cravings to eat certain foods just before your period. Have you ever wondered why?

You have most certainly heard of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Among the different symptoms of this condition, the most frequently reported are: mood swings, fatigue, depression, irritability, headaches, changes in appetite and cravings. It is estimated that up to 3 out of 4 menstruating women suffer from some form of premenstrual syndrome and therefore have their appetite altered for a certain period of their cycle.

It is not known exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome and these cravings, but hormone fluctuations could be an explanation. In effect, during the luteal phase, a period of 12 to 14 days that occurs after ovulation and before menstruation, the body faces a significant hormonal fluctuation in progesterone and estrogen. These fluctuations lead to a decrease in the production of serotonin (the pleasure hormone) that can contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as fatigue and cravings.

Thus, during this period of the cycle, your appetite can increase, and you might have a tendency to eat more at meals and snack more frequently. Some women go so far as to increase their food intake by more than 500 calories per day. However, the average is usually around 250 calories per day.

Your appetite usually returns to normal after the start of menstruation, around the third day of menstruation. If your cravings persist over the longer term, a dietitian could be a good ally to help you manage them.

Photo: Pexels, Pixabay, ©

But what kind of food do these extra calories come from?

A study shows that during the pre-menstrual period, the intake of proteins, especially animal proteins, are increased. Why are women craving protein? Perhaps because they help to stabilize the blood sugar and thus prolong the feeling of satiety which reduces cravings. It should also be noted that proteins provide amino acids necessary for the production of hormones.

Moreover, I am sure this is not news to you, but many women also crave chocolate, sweets and starchy foods. Why are women craving carbs? Probably because eating carbohydrates would counteract, to some extent, the decline in serotonin levels, and women might be aiming for a general feeling of well-being and happiness.


You should know that a healthy lifestyle will help you to better manage your cravings before your period. This is why it would be beneficial to include regular physical activity in your daily routine as well as yoga and/or meditation that will help you to relax and reduce your stress.

As you can imagine, having a healthy lifestyle also requires a balanced diet. On this point we can help you with our healthy meal plans that can teach you how to best manage your moods, discomforts and cravings before your period.


In effect, our meal plans ensure you will be eating a suitable diet, which is rich in complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), rich in omega 3s and rich in fiber, while also favoring good sources of protein and including balanced snacks, all while limiting salt in order to reduce water retention. Thus, to help you achieve good health while keeping control of your cravings, why do not opt for our Healthy meal plan, or its Vegetarian option?


  • Buffenstein, R., Poppitt, S. D., McDevitt, R. M., & Prentice, A. M. (1995). Food intake and the menstrual cycle: a retrospective analysis, with implications for appetite research. Physiology & behavior, 58(6), 1067-1077.
  • Cohen, I. T., Sherwin, B. B., & Fleming, A. S. (1987). Food cravings, mood, and the menstrual cycle. Hormones and Behavior, 21(4), 457-470.
  • Gorczyca, A. M., Sjaarda, L. A., Mitchell, E. M., Perkins, N. J., Schliep, K. C., Wactawski-Wende, J., & Mumford, S. L. (2016). Changes in macronutrient, micronutrient, and food group intakes throughout the menstrual cycle in healthy, premenopausal women. European journal of nutrition, 55(3), 1181-1188.
  • Mayo clinic.Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). February 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376787


Jennifer Morzier
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian graduated from the University of Montreal in December 2018 and is a member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec (OPDQ). She believes that the quality of our food choices has a direct impact on our health and energy level. Her goal? To help people improve the quality of what they put in their plates, for their better well-being and greater pleasure.

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