I crave chocolate, especially during my period. Are my chocolate cravings real? Is this all in my head?
You are far from alone in your quest for chocolate. In fact, according to a research article in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association, it’s estimated that 40 percent of women crave chocolate, with a heightened desire for this delectable during “that time of the month” for some females. In other words, if you and nine of your girlfriends were at a dessert buffet table, four of you may find yourselves wrestling for that last sliver of Death By Chocolate.
Why do people crave chocolate? According to the article, written by researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, there are several theories. The predominant reason is most likely its delicious properties — chocolate’s sweet, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth taste and wonderful aroma. What’s not to love?
Another thought is that for some of us, our craving for chocolate may be the result of a need to feed a nutritional deficiency in our diet. Chocolate is rich in magnesium, and our craving for it may be a signal that our diet is deficient in this mineral. Hence, we are hunting for a chocolate bar as form of self-medication. (Thank goodness we don’t need a prescription for it.)
Interestingly, a deficiency in magnesium may also worsen the symptoms of PMS. But then again, lentils and kidney beans are also high in magnesium, and personally, my taste buds whine for milk chocolate, not legumes, when I am experiencing PMS. And speaking of PMS, the bebopping of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle may be another reason why women are running to the candy counter right before their period starts.
Yet another theory holds that people may crave chocolate because it contains substances called biogenic amines, which can play a role in your mood and possibly counteract depression. However, these substances are also in other foods, such as some type of cheeses and sausage. Again, I have yet to know anyone who has had a strong yen for a cheese and sausage sub on a steady basis.
Chocolate also contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine, suggesting that it could be addicting. However, the amount of caffeine in an ounce of milk chocolate is less than you would get in a gulp of java. There is some thought, however, that these two compounds, when working together, may be greater than the sum of the two parts, if you get my drift.
While the exact mechanisms — or combinations thereof — behind chocolate cravings aren’t rock-candy solid as yet, take comfort in knowing that your cravings are real and not uncommon. So by all means, if you intensely desire chocolate, satisfy the yen with a small amount and without guilt.