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Understanding compulsive eating before your period

Girls Beauty
September 14, 2018

As a woman, you are undoubtedly familiar with the routine of eating certain foods before your monthly period. But do you know why there is more desire to eat chocolate and junk foods during that time of the month? This case is known as Compulsive Eating.

What is compulsive eating?

Compulsive eating is also known as binge eating. It is characterized by the solid and uncontrollable impulse for eating a large number of foods.

In some cases, compulsive eating can also progress into binge eating disorder (BED). It is a kind of formal diagnosis. In others, it takes only a specific time, like during the time leading up to your period.

Is compulsive eating before a period normal?

Many people experience food cravings or a general increase in appetite when the days leading up to their menstrual periods.

These are some of the common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which affects over 85 per cent of females at some point in their lives.

Some familiar symptoms of compulsive eating:

  • Eating more when you are not even hungry or even when you are feeling full
  • Eating a large amount of food
  • The feeling of ashamed or upset after a binge
  • Eating constantly throughout the day or eating in a secret

Slight increases in hunger levels and food cravings are a regular standard part of the menstrual cycle for many people.

Why does compulsive eating take place before period?

According to the study, an ovarian hormone plays a vital role in compulsive eating. The study has shown that the high progesterone levels during the premenstrual phase play a crucial role in compulsive eating and body dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, Estrogen seems to be associated with a decrease in appetite. During ovulation, Estrogen is at a higher level.

In simple words, right before your period, you are likely dissatisfied with everything. And this dissatisfaction can encourage you for eating more and more.

Compulsive eating before a period can sometimes be a symptom of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). This form of PMS affects up to 10 per cent of women of childbearing age. Symptoms of PMDD can be depression, mood changes, and food cravings, or binge eating.

Some studies also suggest an association between binge eating and menstrual issues, such as irregular periods or an absence of periods.

How can I avoid compulsive eating?

The most beginning way to reduce or avoid compulsive eating is to recognize either the problem exists or not. You should also find out when you are more likely to binge. Once you do these things, consider following these tips for avoiding overeating.

Eat mindfully

  • Make a routine to track everything you are eating, especially if you binge. Noticing how many calories you are eating might help you in stopping the cycle.
  • Try eating more healthfully throughout the month. Consider cutting the foods that contain refined sugars.
  • Eat more high-fibre foods like vegetables, beans, fruits, seeds, whole grains, etc.

Snack smart

  • Avoid junk foods. It won’t be accessible if it will not be in your house. Instead of junk foods, consider buying the ingredients for making healthy snacks with various flavours and textures.
  • When you feel hungry again and again, consider drinking a glass of water with mint or fresh fruits. It might help in curbing your cravings. Eating a lollipop or chewing gum can also be helpful.
  • For sweet cravings, whip up fresh fruit and yoghurt smoothie or sweet potato that has been topped with a small pat. Moreover, try this healthy cinnamon maple caramel popcorn recipe.

A person can find complex carbohydrates in:

  • vegetables
  • beans and lentils
  • whole grains, such as brown rice and oats

Fuel up on iron

Load up on iron-rich foods pre-period stage. Foods like red meat, fish, and leafy greens can be beneficial before and during your period.

This will create a “feedback loop” to the body, and the body will know that you are taking care of it in a way that it needs.

Make healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Stress can also lead to emotional eating in your period. Exercise, practice, good sleep can help in managing stress.
  • You can join a support group like Overeaters Anonymous (OA). Talking with the one who can understand your feelings can be very helpful for you.

Boost your mood

Eating is not the only way to reduce fatigue and lift the mood.

This type of activity can also be very effective in boosting a person’s energy levels. If stress is making a low mood, a person can get a benefit from relaxation techniques, like:

  • deep breathing
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • progressive muscle relaxation
  • yoga

Give yourself a break.

Shame is one of the biggest reasons that lead to compulsive behaviours. It is essential to acknowledge these cravings and changes in the body and don’t try to restrict them too much.

Seek support from others

Talking to other’s about compulsive eating and other PMS symptoms can also be helpful in reassuring and giving a sense of relief.

You can speak to friends and family. You can also get benefit from attending Overeaters Anonymous support groups.

When should I call healthcare professionals?

Everyone will not need treatment for compulsive eating. If you find yourself bingeing more during periods or compulsive eating is making your emotional stress or weight gain, it will be better to consult with health professionals.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are various kinds of psychological counselling for binge eating disorders. They include:

DBT is a kind of CBT that focuses on emotional regulation. Different types of meditation can also be used. Premenstrual cravings are tough to tackle.

But arming yourself with good knowledge, healthy foods, and stress management techniques can be beneficial for tackling the urges. Take good care of your hygiene too.

If it becomes difficult in stopping compulsive eating, consider taking help from professionals. 


Changing levels of hormones often cause food cravings or a general increase in appetite in the days leading up to a period. By adopting some strategies, you can easily prevent or reduce these cravings. Moreover, you can also get benefits by seeking support and treatment from medical professionals.

See if a doctor, if only the compulsive eating persists throughout the month, leads to significant weight gain or causes depression or anxiety.

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