By Alma Bengio
Recently, I was sitting with a group of friends having dinner. I was unusually serious, I felt oversensitive, quite unbothered to have long conversations I wasn’t in the mood for, and specifically, I couldn't satiate my hunger. I just wanted bread and chocolate. That day, we decided to prepare Emily Mariko’s famous left-over salmon dish plate, so my needs were not being met. At the end of the night, after realizing I wasn't angry at anyone or anything in particular, I turned to my friend and said "I think I’m getting my period soon." I didn’t feel bloated, I didn’t have cramps or any sort of physical pain, but my temper and hunger gave me a very clear indication that indeed it was going to be that time of the month.
The merest mood swing indicates what is about to happen inside of our bodies. We are very susceptible to small changes. At least in my case, I can’t really control my mood when it’s due to hormonal changes; I just have to kind of go along with it. I also can’t really control the hunger that takes over me. In those moments, I feel like bread will solve all my problems, so I have to listen to my body!
Considering all of this, I have decided that it is best to embrace our hormonal and physical changes rather than to fight them. When I was younger, I would suppress my cravings and hit the gym instead, or quite literally push my stomach in to fight the bloat because it bothered me. Today, with more knowledge and recognition of the changes my body is going through, I accept them and change my behavior because I can't really fight them. What’s helped is to understand what truly causes these changes in behavior during the moments building up to your period and at the beginning of it.
Did you know that progesterone levels are highest at the beginning of our periods? It is due to this chemical that our appetite increases and our bodies begin to crave more carbohydrates and sugars. We grow hungrier, not as a coping mechanism to anxiety or fluctuations, but because our body is quite literally going through chemical changes. Understanding this makes it much easier to deal with it and accept it. It is something your biological anatomy has caused, not your personal behavior. So don’t try to fight it, rather, satiate it. You’ll be less annoyed at it if you actually eat and do what your body is really asking you for. Like when your body craves movement and fresh air, here, your body craves chocolate and rest, and that is totally fine too.
So getting your period is much more than just getting your period. It’s mood swings, tiredness, sensitivity, increased hunger, bloating, and other temporary side effects that differ per person and can change in between cycles. But the important thing here is being aware of them and not fighting them. If I’m more tired one day, I just watch a feel good movie like Legally Blonde. I don’t force myself to move because, at the end of the day, getting a period is much more than just getting a period, and it’s best if we deal with it accordingly.