If you find it more difficult to resist the lure of nachos, cookies and other unhealthy foods in the second half of your monthly cycle, you’re not alone. Your appetite and cravings hit their peaks during your Week 3 and Week 4 (lasting from the day after ovulation to the day before your next period) due to a higher level of progesterone and a double-dip in estrogen–a one-two hormonal punch that can make even the most ardent macrobiotic-embracing, green smoothie-inhaling, I-love-me-some-kale kind of gal buckle at the knees when coming face-to-face with a scrumptious s’mores brownie.
But, now there may be a way to up your resistance to high-fat, high-calorie foods and choose edibles that are actually good for you–despite your hormonal influences: Before you choose the foods you’re going to eat, do something to boost your alertness, for instance, drink a caffeinated beverage, splash your face with cold water or do a few jumping jacks.
According to a new study in a forthcoming issue of Journal of Marketing Research, folks are 16% to 24% more likely to choose healthy foods when they’re more alert. In fact, four lab studies showed that non-alert diners piled a whopping 39% more calories onto their plates than alert ones.
This is an especially important to keep in mind during the second half of your cycle since not only do high progesterone and low estrogen on these days trigger food cravings, they also sap your mental energy, dragging down alertness.
As an interesting side note, the researchers discovered this food phenomenon by studying diners in well-lit and dimly-lit restaurants–and found that the dim lighting in eateries doused alertness, causing diners to pick unhealthier fare. So, you may want to do a few extra jumping jacks when ordering food in places where the dim lighting lulls you into a hazy state of mind….
[Photo: α is for äpΩL †]