The alarm goes off. It feels like you only just closed your eyes. You groan. On the way to the shower you make the mistake of looking in the mirror. One big ugly zit in the middle of your forehead. Ugh, period coming. But at least the spot can be covered. What about the bloating? …It all comes rushing back to you. You had a tough day at work yesterday. It took a litre of caffeine to get you through the client presentation. By the time you got home all you wanted was a good cry but bravely, you settled for a takeaway. Why do they make those chip bags so big? Then there was that refillable glass of wine you had earned. Just then, you see it - your partner’s lone dirty sock, crumpled on the bathroom floor – again. A blind rage comes on. How can he do this to me? He sticks his handsome, tousled head around the bathroom door, and looks at you with concern.

“Are you ok?” he says.

You turn away. Calm down. Remember what happened last month. Like a girl in a French art movie, you answer sombrely. “It’s complex.” Yes indeed, the pre-menstrual time is complex, the hormonal rollercoaster can make you feel anything but your normal self. When it comes to cravings we tend to crave foods such as salty crisps, pizza, croissants, chocolate and sweets. This is because of a complex interplay of hormones. In the second half of the menstrual cycle, levels of the female hormone oestrogen fall, while levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. This triggers the body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ mechanism – and the body seeks to fuel this response with carbs as they deliver the quickest energy hit. ‘Makes sense, doesn’t it?

But that’s not all that’s going on. There is another hormone at play: serotonin, the happy hormone. The body also uses carbs to make serotonin. And this is where things get really fascinating. When cortisol is high but serotonin is low (when we are stressed and sad), we crave simple, sugary carbs like chocolate because they metabolise faster for a quicker happiness hit. When cortisol is high but serotonin is normal (stressed but sort of ok) we crave fat-carb combos like cheesy garlic chips (mmm).

As well as that emotional hormonal rollercoaster, our cravings may also be driven by lower blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) in the second half of the month. When blood sugar drops, we feel nervy and irritable, so we reach for the junk food - but then experience another blood sugar low within two hours. Cue more junk food.

So what’s the solution? First and foremost, DO NOT GIVE IN TO THE CRAVING. Food cravings are like your body trying to stick a tiny plaster on a really big problem. It won’t work. In fact, giving in to cravings will actually make everything worse. You need to get off the low mood-high stress-low blood sugar rollercoaster, so choose complex carbs such as brown rice, pasta and bread. You also need ‘good fats’ to slow absorption of carbs, stabilise blood sugars and ease cravings. Find them in salmon, avocado or olive oil, or get a daily Omega 3 essential fatty acid dose from a high-quality supplement such as Cleanmarine For Women.

What else? Exercise raises happy hormones naturally and keeps you on the straight-and-narrow when it comes to blood sugars. Avoid alcohol and say no to caffeine. Eat a healthy well-rounded diet to make sure you’re getting a full range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients because deficiencies can exacerbate how you are feeling. Also, remember to eat little but often to keep those cravings at bay.