SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Pregnancy and Food Cravings

Most people have heard the stories of the strange cravings women have while pregnant. While the experts can’t agree whether this is a true pregnancy symptom or just something women think they should do, many women claim that they really do crave stuff. Many believe that if you crave salty foods you are having a boy and sugary foods you are having a girl. There has been no proof of this and is really another old wives tale. Cravings for pickles and ice cream really have less to do with pregnancy than hormones. Many women report strange cravings during the second half of their menstrual cycle.

Many women have questions about the cravings during pregnancy. Many believe it is nature’s way of making sure you are getting all the nutrients your baby needs to grow. If you need more calcium, you would crave more cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Also food aversions can keep you away from foods that could cause any harm to the baby. But even that is not for sure. No one knows for sure if craving are related to a need or aversion for sure or just hormones. The same hormones that are in the last half of the menstrual cycle are the same ones of pregnancy. So the food craving could be emotionally linked and to “feel” good like during the menstruation cycle.

Many studies have reported that food aversions are less likely to occur than the craving themselves. It seems that food aversions tend to pop up at the same time as morning sickness, which makes sense. If you are spending most of your day feeling nauseous or vomiting, then it makes sense you would be repulsed by certain foods. There has been no link to craving and morning sickness, or any other condition of pregnancy thus far. It has been reported that women tend to crave sweet foods during the second trimester; even more so than if they craved them during the first trimester. They have linked many cravings as a mix of behavioral, physiological, and psychological. They believe it could have to do with comfort more than actually being deficient or “needing” a particular food. The most commonly craved foods reported are ice cream, sweets, candy (especially chocolate), fruit and fish.

The only things that the experts agree on when talking food cravings is that many women report having them. Other than that they have two conflicting views. Many believe women “think” they should have craving so that is what they do. We see pregnant women on television and they all make their husbands run to 80 grocery stores at 2 AM for some strange flavored ice cream and pickles. So they believe we have been programmed to behave this way. The other school of thought is that it is the effects of hormones that make some foods taste good and others taste awful while pregnant. The chemical changes in the body effects the sense of taste and smell. Some cravings have been linked to specific vitamin deficiencies, even though the foods craved aren’t a good source of the vitamin. Iron deficiency has been linked to craving ice, laundry starch, and cigarette butts. Craving non-food items is called Pica and is very common in pregnancy. A woman will eat such things as dirt, rocks, cigarette butts, and paper. If a woman suffers from this she should see her doctor for treatment right away. Blood work can be done to see if there are deficiencies and supplements can be given that will hopefully make the Pica go away.

It is important to know that even though cravings are natural, one needs to have some self-control and not indulge on every little whim. Eating these foods once and a while is fine, but too often will make you gain more weight than needed and that is extra work when the baby is here. Who wants to have to burn off an extra 30 pounds if they don’t have too, you’ll have your hands full enough with a new baby. Ways to curb unhealthy cravings: Eat breakfast every day (skipping breakfast can make cravings worse), get plenty of exercise, and make sure you have emotional support. The emotions of pregnancy can cause you to turn to food when what you really need is a hug.

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