There's a scientific reason why we are crazy hungry on our periods
Welcome to the HelloGiggles PMS Diaries, where I talk all about the most insane things done, eaten, or cried about while in the throes of my period, from days before it starts, to the day it arrives (P-day), all the way to the end.
Every month, I’m documenting the best and the worst of my PMS calamities and offer a little expert insight into why our bodies do what they do, need what they need, and what we can do about it.
But first… here’s Disney’s take on our periods.
Disney does our period
Walt Disney tried to explain our periods to us once before. Disney released this video in collaboration with Kotex in 1946, called “The Story of Menstruation.” It’s mostly antiquated, patriarchal man-splaining, but the animation and motherly narrator will sound pretty familiar to all Disney fans. Enjoy:
The week of the fried egg sandwich
The week leading up to my period is a tenuous time. I’m not really being victimized by my own feelings yet, but my appetite has a say in pretty much everything I do. It’s like my brain and body are on board with the egg-theme, and the craving for a fried egg sandwich almost overtakes me.
A fried egg sandwich consists of two eggs, pan-fried, on white bread with mayo and a Kraft cheese single slice. It’s probably the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, and it’s given me more comfort in the last seven days than I can communicate to you now.
In fact, I was so moved by the first bite of that sandwich, that I was inspired to tweet about it. Not my finest moment, but hey… it’s all about truth in the PMS Diaries. I’ve since had a fried egg sandwich every day of this week. That makes 5.
Four days before P-day: Feeding the beast
So, still at the mercy of my insatiable hunger, I woke up over the weekend feeling like I haven’t eaten in a week. It was the most serious hunger I’ve ever felt, and I had to get myself to some sustenance.
I stumble to the kitchen, and before I can even make the coffee to wake me up, I throw last night’s chicken on a plate and start devouring it like the monster from Stranger Things.
If someone had tried to get between me and this chicken breast, I’m pretty sure they would have lost a finger.
But why are we hungrier on our periods?
This hunger isn’t just a quirk of my period, though. There’s an actual biological explanation. We feel hungrier during our periods because, well, we are hungrier. Our bodies are doing extra work, therefore we’re burning more calories. Dr. Jame Heskett, author of the book The Wellpath explains,
“With the menstrual cycle, the week of your period makes your body do some extra work. In some women, the week of your period can make you burn up to fifteen percent more calories, and you haven’t changed a single thing about your lifestyle!”
This may sound promising, but don’t get your hopes up just yet. While, yes, your body is technically burning more calories, “it can be a bit deceptive. Your body is burning some extra calories, but only about 100 to 300 per day, and only for a few days at a time.” That’s roughly the same as three bites of guacamole, which is not a lot of guacamole.
Three days before P-Day: Donuts and booze
I’ve never claimed to live the healthiest of lifestyles (see the above account of what I eat) so it’s no shock that I treat my rough days with a little wine, and a little more wine, and sometimes with a splash of brown liquor.
This day is no exception, except my wine pairings included six chocolate glazed donuts from Dunkin, and cruller the size of my forearm.
This may sound super weird, but it’s actually pretty normal. Livestrong.com confirms a no-carb eater’s worst fears. Apparently, “Some women’s bodies become more responsive to insulin during their monthly cycle, making them more prone to blood sugar drops. The brain instigates a sugar craving in response to the need for more fuel.”
This can also make you crave pasta, rice, and other simple carbohydrates, and could explain why I felt compelled to order (and then eat) two whole pizzas and cheesy bread. I’ll blame the low blood sugar. It’s biology.
Two days before P-Day
The closer I get to P-day, the more I feel the need to indulge my crazy. I wind up swinging wildly in mood, and end up things like watching Steel Magnolias on repeat, then binging Difficult People to make myself feel better.
Mood swings are absolutely normal and are just really about your hormones roller coastering all over the place. In fact, I find it insanely cathartic to sit down with a really sad movie (or song, or show, or book) and just wallow around in your feelings for a while.
However, if your feelings are getting the best of you, and you aren’t able to come out of it so easily, you might have Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This is the like the grandmother of all PMS, and can take your regular symptoms and magnify them to almost unbearable proportions. Check out WebMD’s list of symptoms and what you should to do to get help.
P-Day: Car crying and breakups
My period finally comes, but before I even realize it, I’ve broken up with my boyfriend, sent his mom a bottle of wine, and booked a weekend at the beach for my birthday. Somebody come slap the phone out of my hand, please.
I’m not saying my period made me do it, but I am saying the break up could have resulted from my lowered tolerance for bullshit, and the subsequent pain of believing said bullshit was at all time low on this particular day. Maybe it was my period, or maybe it was the five unanswered text messages and his reluctance to commit to seeing Suicide Squad with me that pushed me over the edge, but all I know is that I woke up on P-day feeling particularly salty.
His mom really appreciated the wine as a thank you for a lovely dinner, but it took her an hour to respond to my text, and in that hour I listened to every sad song from my Spotify playlist and cried while I did my errands.
Thank the universe his mother doesn’t catch on to what a crazy person I am. Luckily, next month, I’ll be PMSing at the beach, and everything is always better by the ocean.
I’d love to hear your PMS confessions. Tell me about the times having a period was the best and the absolute worst.