By Cherie (www.perimenopausepages.com)
I love to eat. My favorite food? Too many to narrow down, but desserts are definitely a weakness. I have never met a chocolate anything I didn’t like. I crave sugar, but can usually satisfy it by eating an apple with peanut butter or some sugar-free pudding.
Then the last two weeks happened.
Since my periods have gotten so irregular, I wasn’t sure when it was going to show up. The date PeriodTracker predicted came and went. I calculated a later start date in early October based on my last 83-day cycle. My period made a surprise appearance on Friday, which helps explain why the perimenopausal devil in me emerged and drove me to such impropriety!
My Sugar Improprieties
10 Days Before Period – It’s unusually hot outside. I am craving my favorite ice cream flavor from Cold Stone – Founders Favorite. Sweet cream ice cream, brownies, pecans, fudge, and caramel. I consider making the short trip to the ice cream store. I look at my raggedy tank top with no bra underneath and the sweat shorts I bought explicitly for at-home use. Since it would require a change of clothes, which feels like far too big of an undertaking, I decide not to go.
A few minutes later, I reconsider. It’s a weekday, midafternoon and kids are still in school for about another half hour. Most adults are at work. Or if they aren’t, they’d wait to get ice cream until their kids could join them after school. I can likely get in and out of the store without seeing anyone except the store clerk…and they’ve likely seen sugar addicts like me a thousand times. I quickly slip on some sneakers, don’t bother with changing clothes or putting on a bra, and head up to Cold Stone.
Success! No one else is in the store. As I pay, I sign up for the loyalty program at the clerk’s urging…but opt-out of texts so there’s no ready evidence of my visit. I quickly drive home in the heat and devour the ice cream in record time.
5 Days Before Period – I make a quick trip to the drugstore for some eye drops. There is a Dairy Queen nearby. I head toward the cash register and think about stopping at Dairy Queen for a sundae. I tell myself I am ridiculous. Making another solo ice cream stop is not acceptable. I reason that if there is a frozen food section at the drugstore that I can have a treat. “If” there is one? Ha-ha-ha…of course there is…and I know that! I buy a Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich and eat it all in the car on the three-minute drive home.
6 Days Before Period – I am grocery shopping and decide to buy my boyfriend a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup. The York Peppermint Patties catch my eye in the candy aisle. There are single ones, but I decide a whole 10.1-ounce bag of 22 of the small ones is a better choice. The peanut butter cups are on sale so I buy two. I eat one that same day.
2 Days Before Period – I visit Cold Stone again. This time to buy some packaged ice cream to have on hand at home for my boyfriend since his birthday is coming up. Might as well celebrate all month with a quart of Peanut Butter Cup Perfection! I sample it right out of the container when I get home. It lives up to its name. I am frustrated with myself for eating so much sugar and throw away the rest of the bag of York Peppermint Patties. A few hours later, I take them back out of the trash and put them back in the cupboard.
1 Day Before Period – I stop at the grocery store to pick up a couple of items for dinner. On my way to the self-checkout, I pass the impulse-buy candy bars. It’s a lost cause. I pick up a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar and eat the whole thing in the car within a matter of minutes. To conceal the evidence, I tuck the wrapper deep into the door pocket.
Day 1 of Period – I dish up an official serving of the Peanut Butter Cup Perfection. I judge the quantity I’m taking so that I can justify that I’ve eaten it over a few days when my boyfriend notices I started enjoying his birthday treat without him.
Day 2 of Period – The entire bag of York Peppermint Patties is now gone. I averaged 2.75 per day since I bought them.
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I’m Not Alone in Sugar Cravings
The day before my period started, I was writing a blog post on hot flashes, and my sister, Donna, and I were exchanging texts on taking care of ourselves. With a pile of York Peppermint Patty wrappers in front of me, I admitted some of my sugar improprieties. And found I wasn’t alone!
Donna had her hair colored a few days before and then went to the candy shop at the mall. She said she had “bought candy – gummies of all sorts…I ate so much of them! I still had them yesterday and was eating them like crazy at work and in my car on the way home. I stopped at Ulta and threw them out…I was mad at myself. I can’t have them around.”
I explained that I had actually thought of asking her to go out for ice cream with me to make it more acceptable. She responded with, “I was totally going to drive to Baskin-Robbins the other day for some dark chocolate ice cream – which I haven’t had or thought about in years.”
While I’m glad I’m not alone in my cravings, I didn’t need the reminder about both the candy store and yet another ice cream store within a short distance of my home!
Needless to say, I am struggling with sugar cravings. I know sugar is bad for me. And I know when I crave it is probably the worst time to have it. What have you done to curb your cravings? Please help!
According to an article on the Planned Parenthood site, Perimenopause: How to Spot (and Stop!) the Symptoms, ditching refined sugar can help stabilize moods.
This Healthline article, Menopause Diet: How What You Eat Affects Your Symptoms, suggests limiting sugar since it can raise blood sugar. And high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome are linked to hot flashes.
Since I found limited information on sugar in relation to perimenopause and menopause, here’s an article related to sugar and PMS.
The WebMD 8 Diet Dos and Don’ts to Ease PMS article notes that sugar cravings happen due to shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone, and that can decrease levels of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter believed to help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. When levels of serotonin fall, these areas can be affected negatively.
Instead of succumbing to the York Peppermint Patties to bring serotonin levels back up, the WebMD article suggests trying whole grains.
About Cherie and Perimenopause Pages
It wasn’t until I was almost 46 that I started to realize many of the physical, psychological, and mental changes I had been experiencing for a couple of years were due to perimenopause. The more I read, the more I wanted to know and hear from other women.
But the information was limited or outdated…and no one was talking about their experiences. I changed that by starting Perimenopause Pages. From preparing myself mentally for the changes of perimenopause to my increased odor, I’m putting my experiences out there to benefit other women – and work through them myself. I’m also researching as I go, curating what I find on a topic for all of us to learn more. There’s no need to cover up what’s happening with our minds and bodies, to minimize it, or to be ashamed of it. Perimenopause is a fact of life. See what I’m up to and subscribe to Perimenopause Pages at https://perimenopausepages.com.
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Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.