Ok, I'm going to get a bit personal here, but I'm sure all the women who read this post will appreciate the sentiment. When I go through PMS, it's like the gates of hell have been opened. Nothing satiates me and nothing makes me feel better. Everything could be going perfectly in my life, but when that week comes, all I can think about is leaving my sweet life behind and running off to join the circus. I want to change everything in that week, and everything I once thought was great, fails to measure up to the "code red standard of excellence". My husband's not good enough, my job isn't good enough, my performance isn't good enough, my body, my looks and in the end, me. I become not good enough.
In the week running up to my period, all hell literally breaks loose. Everyone has to run and take cover because one wrong move or comment will completely set me off the edge into hysterics. My poor husband probably braces himself for the impact that's to come. Not only am I a pain in the ass to live with for him, but I can hardly stand myself. I feel as if I want to crawl outside of my skin and run as far away from myself as possible. But alas, there's no escape. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
People joke about PMS, unless you live with a woman who gets it bad. Then all you want to do is hand out gold medals for all the people enduring such thankless, god awful week without going completely mad themselves. I feel for my husband, I really do. I know what I'm doing and I know how I'm acting, but I just can't seem to stop. I am a woman out of control. Slamming cupboards or locking myself in a dark room is child's play when it comes to some of the behaviours or actions I've engaged in due to severe hormonal fluctuations. No amount of evening primrose oil or black cohosh has helped to rid me of my PMS misery. I have tried supplement after supplement and eating regimen after eating regimen. I've cut out every food from my diet that could potentially make PMS worse, and nothing makes a difference.
Not only am I riding an emotional rollercoaster, but I'm HUNGRY. An old friend once called it her "hunger week". I don't get hungry for a whole week, but the two days leading up to the grand finale, I'm insatiable. Not only am I hungry, but I'm indecisive about what I want to eat (shocking I know). I feel bad about how my body looks, which can cause me to turn to food for comfort, but at the same time I don't want to eat anything in particular. Some women crave chocolate or fatty foods. I seem to crave nothing and everything at the same time. I mostly just want to eat out and not cook. So, with a whole week consisting of high and low emotions, negative self-image and wanting to eat everything and nothing, it's easy to fall back into old habits that last longer than just that week if I'm not careful.
I know I'm not alone when it comes to hormonal eating. It's different from emotional eating because chemically there are things happening inside your body, it's a combination of physical mixed with emotional. I've learnt how to manage the way I eat or view my body when I encounter times of intense emotions or triggers that set off emotional responses, but when it's physiological, it's a whole new ball game. Being able to decipher when you're going through PMS and how it affects your body image and the way you eat is the first step. If you know you're going through PMS and it's causing you to overeat, it's very important that you seek to understand what's going on and be aware of what could come up.
Many women over consume or binge eat during this week. Even though your emotions seem heightened, their actually plummeting to the floor. This is what causes you to feel low and turn to food. Not only are your hormones playing a role in increasing your hunger, but mood fluctuations contribute to the eat everything party too. It's important that you're proactive during this week, no matter what comes up. If you let yourself binge on sugar all week, you're going to carry that craving into the next week, and the next week, and the next... Be mindful of what you eat and how you eat during PMS. Sugar is addictive on it's own, and if you over consume one week, it's going to be hard to kick that craving in the weeks to come. What can you do to make sure you're going through PMS as effortlessly as possible when it comes to managing your appetite and emotions?
Here are a few things that have helped me:
- Make sure you keep healthy snacks on hand for times like these and always always always be aware that you're eating for reasons other than being truly hungry. My go to's are hummus and veggies, apples and nut butter or hard boiled eggs and avocado toast.
- Eat foods high in fibre and low in salt and sugar. This can lessen the pain and discomfort that can accompanies PMS.
- Drink lots of water. This can help with bloating and skin clarity.
- Exercise everyday, especially the day you actually get your period. This will help to eliminate cramps and will help to drain your lymphatic system. It will also elevate your mood by releasing endorphins.
- Get out in the sun, and if it's winter, get out for some fresh air. This can also help to elevate your mood.
- Try different supplements that help with PMS. None have worked for me, but there are many different ones out there with research to back them up. Do a little research and see if anything resonates with you.
- Try not to rise above your emotions, but to sit with them. Go into what you're feeling and let yourself feel it. We try so hard to push emotions away instead of being with them and trying to learn what's going on. We mask emotions with food, shopping, sex, gambling, but it doesn't help us in the end. Learn what your emotions are trying to tell you and decide how you're going to respond.
- Have some alone time. Especially if you feel like you're going to blow up at loved ones that don't deserve it. Remove yourself and anyone in your line of fire by taking time for yourself to go through what you need to go through in those moments.
- Learn to be ok with saying "I'm sorry". I've had to apologize countess times for saying or doing something I wished I wouldn't have because of my emotions. Learn from your mistakes. If the same situation arises next time, you'll be able to respond differently. Realize that this is a work in progress and ask your loved ones to have patience with you.
- Have people around who you can vent to and who understand what you're going through.
- Spend time in prayer or meditation to calm your mind and spirit when you feel agitated. Work on deep breathing and ask for help when you feel overwhelmed.
Sometimes just knowing that you're not alone in what you're going through is comforting enough. I have long felt inclined to research hormones and learn more about treating PMS because it has so greatly affected me. Exercise is a great way to let off steam, increase feel good endorphins and take time for yourself. Just another great reason to sweat.
I'd love to hear your feedback! Do you experience terrible PMS? What have you done to make it more manageable? Please leave your comments below. Thanks for reading!