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J Am Diet Assoc. 1987 Mar;87(3):311-5.

Menstrual cycle and food cravings in young college women.


The effect of the menstrual cycle on food cravings was examined in a population of 83 young college women during a 6-week longitudinal study. Food cravings and menstrual symptoms were evaluated by measuring subject responses in weekly questionnaires ("craving sheets"). The women were not told that the central objective of the study was to examine the effects of the menstrual cycle on food cravings. The menstrual cycle was divided into four stages: menstrual flow; the first half of the cycle, excluding menstrual flow; the second half of the cycle, excluding the premenstrual phase; and 1 week premenstrual. Cravings for 32 foods were examined on a weekly basis under controlled environmental conditions. Foods tested were categorized according to common characteristics. The women exhibited a greater preference for chocolate foods during menstrual flow than during the other menstrual stages. Cravings for high-sugar foods, high-starch foods, or lower carbohydrate foods were not significantly affected by the stage of the menstrual cycle.

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