When it’s that time of the month, it can be very hard to not succumb to your cravings. There is one craving, however, that seems to be universal for a majority of people on their cycle: chocolate.
Through raging hormones, mood swings and cramps, chocolate can often seem like the answer to everything. It has remained a steady craving for generations. Whether it’s a velvety truffle, a decadent brownie, or a simple square of dark chocolate, many find solace in the sweet embrace of cocoa during their periods. But why has it had so many people in a chokehold? 21Ninety did a little digging to find some explanations for the longstanding craving.
What Is it about Chocolate?
Ultimately, the desire to indulge in chocolate comes from simple desire. According to dietician Reema Patel, there isn’t much evidence that explicitly states why chocolate is the go-to other than learned behavior and the desire to want comfort food.
“At the beginning of the period, progesterone and oestrogen levels drop, which can increase hunger levels,” Patel explained to Glamour. “There is also an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and a reduction in our feel-good hormone, serotonin. There is a theory that to help boost serotonin hormone levels, we eat food that makes us feel good. However, there is no strong evidence for this link between hormones and cravings yet. Women still report chocolate cravings, despite not being on their period or after menopause.”
A 2004 study looked into the desire for chocolate between American and Spanish women. A majority of American women specifically chose their menstrual cycle as the most likely time that they would desire chocolate. However, a number of the Spanish women said the opposite. They reported chocolate cravings around dinnertime or while working instead of their time of the month. The study goes on to show that many people with periods associate their cycle to chocolate, which psychologically, makes them crave it during that time.
Melanie McGrice, an advanced accredited practicing dietician from Australia, concluded from the research that the craving is a delicate blend of many things.
“After reviewing the current research, I believe that craving chocolate before our period is a mixture of physiology, psychology and cultural conditioning,” McGrice said in a blog post. “Our hormonal changes during the days leading up to your menstrual cycle leave us feeling stressed and tired, which we try to eradicate by indulging in our favourite comfort foods“This ends up creating a cycle by which we crave high fat and sugar foods when we get our period every month.”