Do Women Eat More During Their Menstrual Cycles?

Women experience a variety of symptoms during their menstrual cycles. Bloating, cramping, anger, fatigue, depression, and migraines are just some of the things many women must cope with each month during their childbearing years. Women commonly report having cravings for salty or sweet foods during and before their menstrual cycles. Eating for reasons other than to satisfy hunger could be indicative of underlying mental health issues. Much attention has been given to eating issues in women with anxiety, depression, body image issues, and other problems, but less has been focused on emotional eating. Taken a step further, little research has been conducted on the relationship between emotional eating during the menstrual cycle. To provide information on how hormonal changes can affect emotional eating, Kelly L. Klump of Michigan State University’s Department of Psychology recently led a study that assessed the eating patterns and hormonal states of 196 women over the course of 45 days.

Klump evaluated the saliva of participants to determine their levels of progesterone and estradiol and how they interacted to influence cravings. She found that fluctuations in the hormones directly correlated to increases in emotional eating. Specifically, the women reported more emotional eating when their levels of progesterone and estradiol were the highest. Klump also considered mood and body mass index and found that neither factor affected the results. “These findings are significant in suggesting potential causal associations between hormonal changes across the reproductive cycle and emotional eating,” she said. Klump added that more research is needed, especially with respect to exploring these links in additional human and animal studies. However, the results of this study could provide valuable insight into variables that could affect the eating behaviors of people diagnosed with binge eating issues, and might help clinicians design treatment plans with hormonal fluctuations in mind.

Klump, K. L., Keel, P. K., Racine, S. E., Burt, A. S., Neale, M., Sisk, C. L., Boker, S., Hu, J. Y. (2012). The interactive effects of estrogen and progesterone on changes in emotional eating across the menstrual cycle. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029524

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  • Bethany


    September 8th, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    I don’t know about the other ladies but I know I do!
    I am always so emotional in the week or so before I have my period and I guess eating has always been my go to way to cope when I get sad and depressed.
    It always tastes good and it feels good at the moment!
    Luckily I never eat so much that I gain more than a pound or so, which is easily remedied with some hearty workouts afterward.
    Maybe this isn’t ideal, but it works for me and has been kind of my staple for twenty years.
    Why knock it out now ;p

  • staccia


    September 8th, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Look, eating during your menstrual cycle is not about some underlying mental despair. It’s a way to make you feel better, that’s it!

  • Stella


    September 8th, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    While hormonal changes may bring about excessive eating in women I don;t see why that’s a problem.Some of us are just more vulnerable to emotional eating and if this is triggered by a natural event then I don’t see an issue to be concerned!

  • Cora


    September 9th, 2012 at 5:11 AM

    I agree with all of the other women who have posted here and I think that we would DARE a man to post and tell us something otherwise.
    Obviously this study was conducted by a man who has never experienced these hormonal fluctuations and who think that it HAS to boil down to some kind of mental illness to let one time a month create this havoc.
    And quite obviously they are wrong.

  • Scott


    September 9th, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Not to start off a war of the sexes here but this study could give us an insight on changes occurring due to hormonal changes.You know when you are faced with a threatening situation there is more adrenaline in your body than at other times.What you do after is due to hormonal changes.SO there really is no harm in studying something like this and coming out with the results.

  • brewer


    September 10th, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    The only way that I see how this could be helpful could be for those women who are trying to lose weight and then are disrupted in their efforts by their hormonal fluctuations. This could be a real downer for many of them who are trying so hard to lose weight but who get sidelined in their efforts because of internal things that are beyond their control.

  • katerina


    September 10th, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Do women eat more during their menstrual cycles?yes,as I can say from my own experience.But that may not be the case with all women because I have known a few friends who just eat lesser and lesser during their period.I don’t know how the same thing manifests differently in different people,may be it is hormonal but doesn’t that mean the results would be uniform?(confused!)

  • Bessie


    September 10th, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Why does this have to fall under the department of psychology?
    Does the college of women’s medicine not care enough to conduct studies like this?
    I think that simply implying that this is related to mental issues is enough to tick me off just a little.

  • Kate


    February 24th, 2015 at 11:08 PM

    Ya. Emtional eating, maybe. Mental issues, …… No…. What, authors? Get it right.

  • Sandra


    May 16th, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    Psychology is often thought to only be associated with mental health. Most people don’t realize that psychology has many fields and also covers biological psychology and physiological psychology which covers the interactions of the brain and chemicals and hire they affect behavior and how people interact with the world around them. Psychology follows the scientific method now and strives to separate itself from the stigma that surrounds it. Psychology follows strict scientific methods and this’ll practices in studying people and their behaviors and interactions with the world. Psychology has a long way before it can get out of the shadow of not being viewed for the science it is.

  • roger


    September 11th, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    now this could throw off some women’s weight loss plans, thereby sending them into more of a ‘hormonal charge’.this is not good and there needs to be measures these women can use to help themselves.

  • Steve


    September 11th, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    All I have to say is that even if I thought my wife was eating more, do you think that I would have anything close to nerve enough to say that to her? And so what if she is, why should I say anything about it at all? Maybe this will make her a little happier for a while and save all of us from an emotional breakdown!

  • kellye b

    kellye b

    September 12th, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    I must be the complete opposite, because many times when I have my period or even in the days leading up to it, my stomach hurts so bad that the last thing that I want to do is eat. For some people this is an emotional comfort though, and I think that we should look more at not whether they eat more during this time but instead see if this is a coping mechanism that they have developed and will then use to cope with the pain and discomfort of their monthly cycles.

  • Sandra


    May 16th, 2015 at 7:49 PM

    I think being aware that your hormones could cause you to be hungrier is helpful for me. I used to think there was something wrong with me for wanting to Binge eat before my period, to be honest I hadn’t even realized that I would do it until recently. I think open dialogue is healthy and that we can only benefit from more studies. Looking online, I found that iron and caffeine have helped some, to my surprise, it seems make me feel further, I’m no longer eyeing that cake in the fridge. Every five minutes ;)

  • Yana


    May 30th, 2015 at 8:13 AM

    Well this is very helpful information.. It somehow give us girls ideas .. Because some girls are curious about this very unusual things we do during and before our period. So thanks author.

  • Trisha Watson

    Trisha Watson

    June 5th, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    I agree with “kellye b”, I don’t feel hungry at all when I am on my period. Especially, the first 2 days. My period usually lasts approx 5 days and I usually stop completely on the 6th day. I use to hurt really badly too but not as much anymore. I use to hurt so bad and feel so bad that I didn’t want to get out of bed or go anywhere. I was miserable during this time, but now, it isn’t like that anymore. I have been using “progesterone cream”. “Dr. John lee” said in his book that one of the reasons woman hurt so badly on their periods is not enough progesterone before their actual period starts. You can apply a little on where it hurts and as often as needed during your period. During your period your estrogen is at it’s highest with progesterone following behind to keep estrogen from getting out of control. You can do more research on this if you wish but the progesterone cream has helped me a lot. Also, I usually don’t like drinking things high in caffiene during this time cause it makes me hurt more too. Plus, it works on me. It’s like a natural laxative. I have been drinking things with a lot less caffiene now-a-days. If you try these two things out and it has helped you as well, let me know. Just thought I should pass this along to all of the other woman out there like me, from what I have been researching, it’s worth the time, money and it has benefits that could be very rewarding too. :)

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