If you're anything like me, the onset of PMS is no cakewalk. Or walk in the park. It's more accurately like eating the full cake (and pizza, and burger)—without any walking. I try my best to be healthy, but sometimes it feels like my period undoes literally all the progress I've made in the month—like three weeks of healthy living is undone and derailed by one week of monster cravings and lack of inactivity due to feeling like crap. So when I had the opportunity to pick the brains of Byrdie's newest contributors, fitness trainers and lifestyle motivators Karena and Katrina of Tone It Up, you better believe I asked them for their tips on conquering PMS cravings. They're obviously doing something right—just look at those bodies! So keep scrolling for the info you need to feel empowered and in control when that time of the month hits, instead of the other way around.
Though it can feel like working out is the last thing you want to do when you're PMS-ing, Karena and Katrina suggest trying to squeeze in a nice walk or some light stretching. It doesn't have to be a sweat-dripping cardio session, but a walk around the neighborhood or some cat-cow curls on your living room floor can make you feel a bit more in tune with your body and a bit less ready to pizza-binge. "The key to not letting cravings control you is keeping in mind what will actually make you feel better," they say. "Ask yourself: What can I do that will actually make me feel a lot better in 15 minutes?"
"Is the answer to that question a little bit of ice cream? Some dark chocolate? Something to take the edge off? There are tons of sweet treats that won't do a lot of harm," they say. "If you want chocolate, have a piece of chocolate. That's totally fine. It's just about balance. And not sitting down with a whole bucket." When you're craving something both sweet and salty, their favorite solution is dark chocolate sprinkled with sea salt, since it hits both the sweet and salty yearnings.
When you're craving chips, they recommend making kale chips. "Once you eat healthy and realize the way your body reacts to it, you start to lose those cravings of wanting to eat a bag of chips," they say. "Your mind will crave something healthier, and that will satisfy you. For us, it's kale chips. We love them. When you eat a huge thing of kale chips with sea salt versus a bag of chips, you’ll feel better.""
Another option they recommend reaching for when you want something crispy and salty (instead of Doritos) is flaxseed crackers with hummus. "It's about finding substitutions that scratch the itch and will make you feel better, not worse," they say.
"I love a salty crunch, so sometimes I do a little bag of popcorn, like the 100-calorie packs," says Karena.
Lastly, Karena and Katrina recommend turning your food craving into something more. "If you're craving ice cream, have it. But turn it into an experience. Make it a date night. Go out for ice cream. Enjoy it. And then don't think about it. Don't work out the next day to atone for the ice cream," they say. "If you want pizza, make a healthy pizza at home, with cauliflower crust, vegetables, home-made tomato sauce. Make it something fun. Make it an experience and not something guilty. We all have cravings, we all want something, and there is a way to satisfy that. But ask yourself: What decision am I going to make right now that I can feel better about and not regret? It’s about having respect for your body and treating it right." Especially when it's under siege during your period!
Were you as inspired by their cravings philosophy as we were? Tell us how you beat PMS cravings in the comments below, and click here to shop the Tone It Up Nutrition Plans.