Avoid junk food, caffeine, sweets to keep PMS at bay

Crankiness, tiredness, depression and a sense of low feeling are some of the symptoms that indicate a woman is going through Premenstrual Stress (PMS) every month. However, one of the common factors of PMS is the compelling drive to eat certain foods.
Avoid junk food, caffeine, sweets to keep PMS at bay
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Chennai

With the craving varying from person to person each month, the tendency to consume a lot of junk food is common. However, doctors say that those who suffer from PMS must keep in mind that eating junk food, excessive intake of caffeine and also skipping regular meals make a terrible combination, resulting in increased uneasiness and pain in the body. 
Explaining further, Nutritionist Joyce Martin, says, “It is essential that woman reduce their salt and sugar intake, as it will help in controlling fluid retention. The latter will also prevent obesity and diabetes. An excess of refined sugar during PMS is found to increase lethargy and exhaustion. It would also leave one feeling constantly hungry.” 
HORMONES AT PLAY 
Research indicates that premenstrual compulsive eating has a physiological component. According to a study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders , ovarian hormones appear to play a major role. The study showed that high progesterone levels during the premenstrual phase may lead to compulsive eating and body dissatisfaction. Estrogen, on the other hand, which is at its highest level during ovulation, appears to be associated with a decrease in appetite. “Another cause for the craving may be due to serotonin levels, which are generally lower during PMS. Serotonin is the feelgood chemical in your brain. When levels are low, we crave sugars and also carbohydrates like potato chips. This occurs because the body uses carbs to make serotonin,” says obstetric gynaecologist Dr Jayashree. 
Conceding that it is a tough battle, Dr Premila K, gynaecologist, says, “Premenstrual cravings are hard to battle. Arming yourself ahead of time with knowledge of healthy food options and stress management techniques, can help you fight off the urges.” She further advises, “If you struggle to stop compulsive eating despite your best efforts, you should consider seeking professional help.” 
Taking the right nutrients is one way of combatting the condition, say experts. “It is very important that women opt for essential vitamins and minerals which play a huge role in maintaining the overall health of the body. Symptoms of PMS are reduced when micronutrients like calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamins are taken to meet the body’s needs. It helps to fight depression and improve digestive problems. It also plays a vital role in pain sensitivity,” says Dr Radhalakshmi, a clinical dietician. 
COMFORT FOOD 
Beyond physiological reasons for increased hunger around menstruation, it has been found that there are psychological and cultural factors at play. Stating that most women crave chocolates while suffering from PMS, counsellor P Nilam says, “Culturally, we have reinforced in our minds that chocolate is a way to deal with stress. We are permitting ourselves to relax and indulge in foods we often ban or refrain from.” 
As the cravings are bound to haunt women each month, experts reiterate that they depend on healthy meals, instead of eating junk.

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