“I must be premenstrual because I can’t stop my cravings for CHOCOLATE!!!”
The cyclical nature of women’s chocolate cravings, especially during times of hormonal fluctuations, supports the myth that hormones DO play a role in cravings. Scientists and researchers have reported that eating chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins such as serotonin–brain chemicals that make us feel ‘good’ and relaxed. In essence, chocolate to our brain is a natural pain killer. In addition, eating chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, can help keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing, and your heart healthy. What is the magic behind this brown bean?
Scientists, physicians, chemists and researches have belabored our Cro Magnon fondness of the cherished cocoa bean and all its derivations. Imagine ending a delicious meal with out it? A ski trip sans hot cocoa? A camping trip without s’mores? It is what many call, “gift of the gods.” It’s practically perfect! Nutritionists will tell you that chocolate in moderation is generally not harmful. Some physicians actually promote the consumption of dark chocolate for heart-health. But, realize, it’s not really the chocolate that is doing the harm or good on its own–its various properties of it. In fact, the latest research reveals that ‘flavonoids’ play a key role. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant-based foods including cranberries, apples, tea and red wine, among others. Dark chocolate again, appears to retain the highest level of flavonoids as it is the least processed.
Debra Waterhouse, author of “Why Women Need Chocolate” suggests, “It’s Mother Nature’s solution via food cravings to try to elevate those chemicals, help us feel better and to function more efficiently.” Her book is the first to explain gender difference in food cravings, why the female biology triggers a need for chocolate and how women can enhance emotional and physical well-being by responding to their vital food messages. In her view, food cravings are not a problem and should actually be encouraged because they provide proper nutrition for the female body and balanced brain chemicals for the female mind. According to Waterhouse, cravings are natural to women. So when a premenstrual woman craves chocolate, it’s really the brain’s way of saying, “Give me something that’s gonna make me feel better.”
Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has done extensive study on brain chemistry and PMS treatment, reported that chocolate and chips are the tip of the list when women say they experience PMS food cravings. Food cravings associated with PMS are not the result of a nutritional deficiency, Wurtman says–”it’s a brain deficiency.” She continues, ”Cravings a real phenomenon, provoked by changes in the brain when one’s hormones are changing. The one chemical that drives all of this is serotonin. One way you can make serotonin is by eating carbohydrates. But you don’t have to eat chocolate or potato chips to do that any more than you need to drink champagne to satisfy your thirst.”
Hmmm…interesting theory…but most of the time, I gotta go with the chocolate.
It simply ‘satisfies’ in a way that an apple, or toast with peanut butter falls short. Is this a learned behavior? Who knows! What I do know is that the shelves of every supermarket, pharmacy and check-out counter is always packed with the brown deliciousness that we call chocolate.
And, since research does connect hormone fluctuations to an increase desire for chocolate (on some level), Period Packs includes various forms of it. I know it is delicious, makes me feel good, calming and…did I say, delicious???
However, as society frowns upon mass consumption of chocolate bon bons–even when we’re menstruating– we’re sure to include chocolate scented and flavored lip gloss–which we can use year round–to calm our foodstuff cravings, but satisfy our brains.