Answer: It can if you end up eating more and burning fewer calories. Premenstrual symptoms such as fatigue, increased cravings and appetite can affect your calorie burn and intake. If you have days when your energy level is low – make extra effort to fit in activity so you meet your daily step or calorie burn target. If possible, plan a walk or workout with your spouse or a friend who will encourage you. Playing your favorite tunes might also help you get moving. Remember, exercise releases endorphins - those “feel good” hormones which counteract any emotional tension you may have. If you do move less, compensate by reducing your intake.
To battle cravings, increase your intake of protein and fiber. These foods can help you feel full longer. Also, be sure to meet your nutrient needs with a daily multivitamin. If you’re not eating calcium rich foods (e.g., milk, fortified OJ) at least twice a day, take a Calcium and Vitamin D supplement. (There is a relationship between inadequate calcium and premenstrual symptoms.) At meal times, fill your plate with extra vegetables and select whole grains when possible (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread). Add extra protein from lean meats, beans or soy products to sandwiches, salads and other meals and cut back on side dishes and beverages with calories. Consider these snack suggestions which are rich in protein or fiber:
• An apple and a handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
• Whole wheat crackers and cheese
• Boiled egg(s)
• Sliced turkey and cheese
• Mini whole wheat bagel with peanut butter
• Yogurt mixed with high fiber cereal (e.g., Fiber One)
Sometimes it helps to satisfy those cravings. A small portion or a few bites is often enough to do the trick. Healthy and satisfying deserts include mixed fruit topped with light whipped cream, low or fat-free pudding and various dotFIT meal replacement bars that are portion controlled and have a balanced amount of protein, carbs and fats. If you do eat more, you can stay on track with your weight loss goal by making up for it with more activity or by eating fewer calories later on.