Supplement (or other solution) for PMS cravings?
August 16, 2007 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Supplement (or other solution) for PMS cravings?

I am a slim woman, but every single month I get such intense PMS that I go on what is basically a 10- to 14-day binge where I eat approximately double of what I normally eat. I gain about 4 to 5 pounds during this time (this always drop off when my period comes).

The weight gain and overeating, which tend to make me feel really sluggish and unnattractive, are irksome. I can't help but wonder if I'd lose 5 or 10 pounds if I didn't have PMS. Also, I have a strong history of diabetes in my family so I worry about the effects of overeating (even though I'm thin).

My cravings are not so much cravings for specific foods (although milk products and the grease/carbohydrate combo are always appealing) as they are for large quantities.

What causes this, and is there a supplement or other treatment that might help me overcome the urge to eat so much at this time?
posted by mintchip to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't directly answer your question, but are you sure the weight gain isn't water? (i.e., from bloating) That makes more sense to me that it'd be lost during your period rather than 5 lbs of actual fat.
posted by artifarce at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2007

I have a similar experience. I've had success in the past by going off sugar for at least two weeks of my cycle. My period symptoms are lessened and it has the added benefit of keeping some off weight in and of itself. My hormonally-driven eating habits are also indiscriminate, but my anecdotal experience is that reducing sugar also helps me not crave excess food in general.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:46 PM on August 16, 2007

I don't think this is technically what you'd call PMS, though it could be cycle-related. PMS has a specific description, which includes the specification that symptoms are prevalent in the week prior to your period and end with the onset of bleeding.

Ask your GYN.
posted by Miko at 7:56 PM on August 16, 2007

Also, if you do speak to the doc, you might ask about going on oral contraceptives, whether or not you're sexually active. They made all my PMS symptoms entirely disappear.
posted by Miko at 8:05 PM on August 16, 2007

i have had this in the past--not quite as extended, but a couple of days of absolutely insatiable hunger. of course, a couple of days a month won't wreck one's waistline, but you seem to have a bigger problem.

it's definitely hormonal--as you ovulate, your body wants desperately to prepare for a pregnancy by consuming calories to give you energy for growing that baby. all well and good, unless you aren't interested in conceiving.

i would definitely cut down on the refined sugars, which may help. chewing gum is good, as are hard candies to suck on. for me, finding the right birth control pill was the best solution.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:05 PM on August 16, 2007

and: i think high progesterone pills will probably exacerbate the problem, because that's the hormone that mimics pregnancy. see if you can get a low-dose estrogen pill. a competent gyn can advise you better.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:07 PM on August 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

I wrote a post earlier in another question that may be of help to you. Basically, for me, the only supplement that's really helped stop my PMS cravings (and I am one of those people who will normally eat healthy, sanely-portioned meals, but once PMS rolls over it's a non-stop junkfood binge-a-thon where I gain weight so quickly and intensely people have had trouble recognizing me) is Evening Primrose Oil (EPO).

This article on suggests taking a higher dose of EPO (about 3000 mg) for the first few months and then taking a regular dose (about 1,000-2,000 mg) daily for maintenance thereafter. It has REALLY helped every horrible PMS symptom I've had trouble coping with (the fatigue, the mood swings, the binge eating, the crippling depression where I embarrassingly attempt to cut everyone out of my life and sulk).

However, I do take other supplements (my basic daily supplements I've been taking for years before I started EPO, which is a multi-vitamin, magnesium, calcium, and cod liver oil), but it's definitely when I added the EPO that I really saw a difference (and I have seriously tried EVERY OTHER pms related herbal/vitamin/mineral supplement that there has ever BEEN. I also started with low-hopes for the EPO, and was surprised at the noticeable effect it had on me).

So far I've been on this EPO "therapy" for two cycles and have managed not to gain the typical 5-10 pounds I normally gain (and sometimes don't lose) from binging every month. It has helped me lose weight in that aspect but YMMV of course. Sorry to be such an evangelist and to make this sound like such a wonder-supplement or something but I was seriously at the end of my rope when I discovered it and it's really helped me with my PMS symptoms. Feel free to email me about this! Good luck!
posted by zippity at 8:14 PM on August 16, 2007

thinkingwoman: it's definitely hormonal--as you ovulate, your body wants desperately to prepare for a pregnancy by consuming calories to give you energy for growing that baby.

Except that ovulation occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle (average day 14) and PMS would be at the end, nearly two weeks later (since the first day of your period is day 1).
posted by Violet Hour at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2007

My pain would start as my body ovulates, so I think I know what you mean. What I suggest, based on my experience is working out regularly and reduce your intake of carbs during your period. Since your family have history of diabetes, you should be cautious of what goes in your body anyway. You also should start doing that now rather than 5 years from now.

I used to have CRAZY pain like "my face is turning white from the pain" kind of pain (I don't mean the mood swings, but actual pain), then I started working out beginning of the year and no pain before, during or after the period. I notice tightness in my lower back and pressure in my back after I'd consumed carb/sugar stuff.

While a lot of women take birth control pills and other stuff to help the pain and reduce the effects of hormonal change during that period, I am iffy about taking pills regularly or being dependant on it. I'll gladly take advil when I am in pain but not everyday.

Hope this helps. The idea is to bring blood to flow around that region at all times so when muscles contract, your blood flow is regular enough for muscles to not get so tight. Which means you should keep your lower region warm as opposed to cool or cold (wear warmer clothes, not expose them to cold air for too long, etc).
posted by icollectpurses at 9:46 PM on August 16, 2007

Blackmores put out something called "Sugar Balance" which is supposed to help deal with cravings, although these are the cravings brought on by dieting or low blood sugar. I cannot tell you if this will work for PMS cravings but it does seem to help for diet ones. As ever, check with your medical provider etc etc before using this product.
posted by ninazer0 at 2:23 AM on August 17, 2007

You may also consider borage oil. It has a much higher GLA content than EPO, so you do not have to take as many pills to get the same amount of GLA.
posted by davar at 2:47 AM on August 17, 2007

My nurse practicioner recommend a B-50 complex or B-100 complex supplement. I'm taking a B-100 and it's done wonders. Take calcium-magnesium too for extra oomph!
posted by schroedinger at 5:37 AM on August 17, 2007

Making sure that you are getting enough potassium in your diet and cutting back on salt helps to counteract the water weight. Or so I've heard. IANAD. (I am not a dietician.)
posted by jeanmari at 6:43 AM on August 17, 2007

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