In the week before your menstrual cycle begins, the hormonal activity begins to fluctuate causing intense food cravings, breakouts, and mood swings.
When we experience food cravings, it is actually a sign that the body is telling you it needs nutrients. During the hormones fluctuating these food cravings spike due to a hormonal imbalance occurring. Progesterone and Estrogen levels decrease, and this increases hunger.
So why is it that most women get a craving for chocolate?
We crave chocolate just before our periods because at this time our bodies want zinc, and the easiest source of zinc is chocolate.
Of course, you can get zinc from fresh vegetables and especially lettuce, but it’s actually easier for our bodies to get it from chocolate. If you add some salads to your diet a couple of days before period is due, this will help provide the extra zinc your body needs.
Or just eat chocolate!
Chocolate itself is a prebiotic and promotes the growth of probiotic bacteria in your gut way better than any lettuce leaf ever will.
Moderation is the key and darker, low sugar chocolates contain the most health benefits.
Our hormone levels change throughout the month, and just before our period is when our “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, takes a sudden dip, whilst our stress hormone, cortisol, spikes.
Higher stress levels caused by the cortisol spike in our bodies can be soothed by reaching for chocolate, making the start of the menstrual cycle feel more comfortable.
However, while the stress level cortisol is high, this starts affecting the skin’s oil glands.
Cortisol essentially affects the sebum gland, which is responsible for maintaining oil levels on the skin. The rise in cortisol leads to an increase in oil production which is why just before, or during your period the skin can breakout. For most women, pimples can appear a week before or during your period.
There are some foods which can have an almost immediate affect on skin. These include probiotics and greasy foods. If you eat either of these right now, within 2 hours your skin will feel the effects.
Probiotics give your skin a healthy glow and greasy foods can lead to breakouts.
For other foods, it’s all about balance. Soy and green tea are good examples of this.
Soy can actually help your hormones if you eat a little most days. Soy boosts our estrogen levels, meaning that a little at a time can make us feel great and keep our hormones and skin balanced and healthy.
On the contrary eating no soy for weeks and then indulging in a feast of soy protein in one meal can throw our hormones wildly out of balance.
Drinking green tea regularly is really good for your skin. But if you’re not a regular drinker, and then sit down to a full teapot, the green tea will draw out toxins from your body into your skin, resulting in breakouts.
The key thing is keeping the ratio of your hormones in balance.
Dairy products can affect hormones as they boost estrogen. This can throw the whole estrogen progesterone ratio out, resulting in mood swings, pimples, and inflamed skin.
Anything containing sugar can alter your hormonal balance and your skin health.
The worst thing you could do is to not have eaten any soy, then go to a restaurant and eat soy, drink green tea or sugary drinks. This then stresses out your hormones and results in hormonal acne.
Your skin responds to and shows what you eat; include lots of fresh vegetables in your diet and keep a diary of what you eat and how your skin responds to really get to know which foods show in your skin the most.
Where possible avoid foods detrimental to skin health – sugars, processed foods and alcohol. These are all inflammatory foods, that work against your skin health as well as your gut.
Your skin is a living organism with its own unique microflora, so to support the health of it you can help it out by drinking plenty of water, eating fermented foods like kefir, exercising the lymph system, and cleansing, toning and moisturizing properly morning and night.
If you have a genetic pre-disposition to acne or eczema, having a healthy diet will help but will not ever solve the problem. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something that causes your skin condition to flare up – we’re all human.
Including prebiotics such as yoghurts, kombucha or chocolate in your diet is great for gut and skin health.
Your skincare routine is also really important for managing skin conditions – choose products that calm and soothe and are suitable for your individual skin type.
Learn more about our skin care products here.