Outsmart the PMS Munchies

It's so unfair! Not only do we get puffy and bloated, but most of us women also get possessed by a crazy carb demon the week before our "friend" arrives. So what's the best way to cope with PMS cravings? I say indulge – but with a strategy. If you want (or need) chocolate but don't let yourself have it, you may wind up eating more calories than you would have if you gave into your craving. One of my clients told me she had chocolate on her brain but she was trying to be "good." So instead she ate a bag of light microwave popcorn, but that didn't do it so she ate a handful of cereal. Still so satisfaction so she turned to baby carrots and hummus…before she knew it, she had eaten over 500 calories, much more than the amount in a regular sized candy bar. The best strategy is to green light your "PMS satisfiers" in savvy ways that will prevent you from really pigging out. Here is a 3 step tactic to try:

1) Zero in on your target. Figure out what you really, really want; what's going to "do it" for you? Are you craving salty or sweet, hot or chilled, creamy or crispy? If you want something cold, creamy and sweet like pudding and you have a dry, crunchy animal crackers, you're probably not going to feel satisfied and thoughts of food will linger. Think it through and try to nail it.

2) Get your fix. Once you know what you want, find a way to get just the right amount and go for quality. For example, buy one freshly baked cookie, brownie or cupcake from a gourmet bakery instead of a bag/box of them. Save it for that moment when you really need the fix and enjoy every morsel without distractions – that means not while checking your email, watching TV, etc. If ice cream's your thing, head to Cold Stone or a premium cream store, get a single scoop of the flavor that really makes your mouth water (not the sugar free, fat free, no satisfaction version), find a private spot and savor every spoonful (use one of those mini sample spoons to make it last even longer).

3) Let go of any guilt. As women, we often have perfectionistic tendencies – if we have a craving, we're supposed to avert it with willpower of steel. But not only is that not realistic, it's not necessary. Believe it or not, one of the reasons you're hungrier before your period is because your body burns more calories during this time, on average about 300 per day, the amount in a half scoop of premium ice cream, a standard sized cupcake or a small serving of fresh hand cut French fries. While those aren't the healthiest foods on the planet, I take a more big picture approach – if eating one of these will help you stay on track with the rest of your diet (e.g. lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and good-for-you fats), they're actually weight loss helpers, not spoilers. So when you give in to your indulgence, treat it like a mini vacation. Vacations mean no cell phones, emails, alarm clocks, etc ...when you're enjoying your cupcake, that means no thinking about calorie counts and workouts. Really enjoy it and once it's over, move on, just like when you come back from vacation and feel ready to go back to work!

So what do you think? Does PMS get the better of you? How do you feel about the idea of planning to give into your cravings with a strategy in mind? Do you think it could help you prevent spontaneous splurges? Please share your thoughts!

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