It is very natural to crave for more food, especially sweets, during your menstrual cycle as there are many hormonal changes that happen inside your body during that time. However, there’s another reason why you crave sweets and chocolates. According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, chocolate cravings during periods may be a result of widespread cultural norms rather than just a physical need. Researchers from the University of Albany in the United States claim that menstrual chocolate cravings may be a culture bound construct.
A team of researchers found that women not born in the United States are less likely to experience chocolate cravings as compared to women born to US-born parents and second generations Americans. “While menstrual chocolate cravings are common in the US, they are rare in other parts of the world,” said Julia Hormes, assistant professor of psychology at University at Albany. “For example, research has found only 28 per cent of Spanish women experience chocolate cravings around the onset of menstruation and only six per cent of Egyptian women crave chocolate at all,” said Hormes.
“These geographic differences hint at the role of cultural norms. In a society that emphasises the ‘thin ideal’ of female beauty, women may view menstruation as a socially acceptable excuse to indulge in otherwise ‘taboo’ food,” she added.
For the study, researchers surveyed about 275 undergraduate women from diverse backgrounds, where the participants answered questions related to the frequency and timing of chocolate cravings and perceived causes of those cravings. The results suggested that 40.9 percent of second generation Americans and 32.7 percent of women born to US parents reported experiencing chocolate cravings at specific times of the menstrual cycle. Only 17.3 per cent of women born in regions other than the US were the ones who craved for chocolate during menstruation.