What girl doesn’t like a little chocolate now and then? Many women crave chocolate, especially during their period. Why does this happen? Is it all in our heads? Is there a physiological benefit to eating chocolate during the menstrual cycle? We want you to know that high-quality, dark chocolate is healthy! Yes, you did just read that… healthy! 😉
We often think of chocolate as a junk food, or, at minimum, a lousy choice for a diet. Regular chocolate is definitely high in fat and sugar. Still, there are benefits to having a little chocolate (especially dark chocolate) around your period. High quality dark chocolate, made from the seeds of the cocoa tree and raw cacao, are high in antioxidants and other nutrients. As far as candy goes, dark chocolate and raw cacao are the healthiest choices available.
Why Do We Have Cravings?
Cravings can offer insight into your nutritional status. For example, cravings for salt usually mean the body needs more minerals. Cravings for sweets can be a sign you need more protein. What does a craving for chocolate mean? One report shows about half of American women experience an intensity in chocolate cravings before their menstrual cycle. But why?
What a chocolate craving is trying to tell you…
You need more healthy fats.
Chocolate is high in satiating fat. If you’re on a low-fat diet, your body may be craving chocolate for its fat content. Chocolate contains mostly saturated and monounsaturated fat, with smaller amounts of polyunsaturated fats.
If this sounds like you, having a little dark chocolate from time to time is okay. Consider adding other healthy fats from coconut oil, avocado, seafood (wild), olive oil or nuts and seeds to your diet. An extremely low-fat diet can be disastrous for your health and fertility. Making this change can reduce your chocolate cravings while balancing your fat intake.
Your body needs more magnesium.
Only 25% of adults get the recommend amount of magnesium daily. A chocolate craving could be a sign you need more magnesium. A 100-gram bar of chocolate (3.5 ounces) contains 58% of the RDA for magnesium.
One of the first signs of magnesium deficiency is muscle spasms and cramping. If you have this problem, it’s usually magnified during the menstrual cycle as natural contractions of the uterus increase. A magnesium deficiency can also occur if you take calcium supplements without counterbalancing magnesium. (Calcium and magnesium work together).
If this sounds like you, having a little dark chocolate around your period is okay. In addition, eat more foods that are naturally high in calcium and magnesium like: dark leafy greens, carrots, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and organic seaweed.
You need quick energy.
Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle lead to fatigue, especially pre-period.
If you crave chocolate during this time, your body may be crying out for more energy or you may have low blood sugar. Chocolate contains a small number of stimulants like caffeine and theobromine. Eating a small amount of chocolate for an energy boost from time to time is okay. If low energy around your menstrual cycle continues to bother you, consider other choices like eating smaller, more frequent meals, exercise, or herbs that support energy like Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).
You need a mood lift.
Chocolate encourages the release of “feel good” brain chemicals like serotonin. Chocolate also contains PEA, phenethylamineome, which increases the same endorphins our bodies produce when we are in love. This is why chocolate is called “the love drug.”
If PMS has got you down, you may be craving chocolate for a mood lift. It’s surprising how quickly eating chocolate fills this emotional need. Having a little chocolate is okay if you’re feeling depressed, but don’t forget other key mood elevating choices like aromatherapy, exercise, massage therapy treatments or counseling.
Savor A Square!
It’s okay to reward yourself with chocolate around your period. However, remember a little goes a long way. You don’t want to eat more than the occasional small serving (a few squares) of high-quality, dark chocolate, especially if you have blood sugar issues or if you are on a weight management program.
For the most benefits, choose organic, dark chocolate with lower sugar and high cocoa content, or raw cacao. Savor the sweet indulgence. But, look a little deeper to find out what your chocolate craving may be telling you. There may be additional healthy ways to satisfy these cravings and more impactful ways to support your well-being.
- Gunnar, K. (2012-2016) 7 Proven Health Benefits of Chocolate. Authority Nutrition. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate
- Mercola, J. (2013, Dec.) Magnesium: The Missing Link For Better Health. Mercola.com Retrieved from: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/08/magnesium-health-benefits.aspx
- Barnes, Z. (2015, Jan.) Magnesium: An Invisible Deficiency That Could Be Harming Your Health. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/31/health/magnesium-deficiency-health/index.html
- Borreli, L. (2015, July) Menstruation and the Female Brain. Medical Daily. Retrieved from: www.medicaldaily.com/menstruation-and-female-brain-how-fluctuating-hormone-levels-impact-cognitive-341788
- Albers, S. (2914, Feb.) Why Do I Crave Chocolate During My Period. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/comfort-cravings/201402/why-do-i-crave-chocolate-during-my-period
- Kilham, C. (2010-2012) Chocolate: The Love Drug. Medicine Hunter. Retrieved from: http://www.medicinehunter.com/chocolate_love_drug