We got a really good question from a T180 lady. Her question was:
Q: About a week before my period, I go into munchie-mode. Once my cycle starts, the munchies are gone and it’s almost a form of “fasting” since certain foods give me cramps. Do those two weeks balance each other out?
As with all good answers, it depends:
A: Are you able to hit your goals and/or maintain with what you are doing now? If so, then, yes, that approach is balancing energy in and out relative to your goals.
Since you asked I am guessing you might not be 100% satisfied so I’ve included a strategy below!
In general, during certain parts of your cycle your insulin sensitivity changes. This change can make it slightly more difficult for your cells to get the fuel that they want, at the rate that they want despite the fuel being available around them. This shift is often felt as the munchies or powerful drive to eat certain foods (usually salty and/or sweet).
Insulin is most often associated with sugar, but it’s really responsible for all forms of calories. It helps them get put away when you eat, and it should get out of the way when it is time for your body to get them out of storage later. In textbooks when they talk about insulin and sugar, they’re talking about blood sugar which is what most food is going to get converted to. Anything that increases insulin resistance increases desire for food (cravings). This also includes salty things as insulin is also important for fluid balance.
Strategy wise the most important thing is to accept that these cyclical cravings are a part of life. You cannot change the feelings that result from these shifts, but you can prepare for them. By prepare I mean having your present self protect your future self. This means being strict about keeping temptation out of the house – anything the future, craving self will struggle with needs to live outside of your home.
A parallel to this is in alcoholism: an important strategy is to not keep any alcohol in the house because of the temptation it presents. I know you’re not an alcoholic, but the idea is the same: our environment determines most of our choices because it contains all of our choices. We can’t impulse eat what isn’t convenient.
Lastly, be aware that your future craving self will protest your preparations, and demand chocolate, salty, or whatever it tends to crave. What many people find helpful is to think of the cravings like a rainstorm:
this too shall pass.