From cake to gherkins, a large number of women experience intense cravings during pregnancy. But why do pregnant women get cravings? Do they mean anything? Should pregnant women indulge the craving or resist it? Let us have a look at some scientific explanations regarding these yearnings and how to manage them.
Everyone has got a different palate, however, according to a study carried out by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the foods that seem most popular among pregnant mums-to-be were ice lollies or ice cubes, sweet foods (like chocolate or biscuits), spicy foods (it seems tolerance to spicy food increases during pregnancy), salty foods (like savoury snacks or crisps) and citrus fruits (like lemons). Some experts explain that pregnancy cravings can be linked to the body’s nutritional needs. Dr. Brian Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think” believes that the reason for a bizarre craving, for example anchovies, is because there is something deficient in the mum-to-be’s system that she requires. Another explanation to the cause of cravings could be hormonal changes, which can easily affect taste and smell. This explanation could also be reason for certain food aversions during pregnancy. Here are some cravings we came across in our search, which made us smile – either because it seems otherworldly or because they sound way too familiar!
- “Pickles in cream cheese wrapped with pepperoni.” — katieriedel
- “I craved AWFUL foods—Twix, and pretzels stuffed with cheese.” —WWmama
- “I craved deep fried cheese (mozzarella sticks/cheese nuggets) with milk throughout the entire pregnancy with my first.” —clgleason08
- “Nothing out of the ordinary for my last pregnancy it was cake mix and toothpaste/mouthwash which I had to use at least 10 times a day. The worst craving out of all my pregnancies has to be dog food, i didn’t give in though that wouldn’t have been very nice.” – ProudMumOf6 –
However, it is important to note that some cravings could be attributed to a veiled problem. Often, strange cravings to non-food items like petrol, chalk, paint could be a symptom of iron deficiency, so do speak to someone if you have non-food cravings. It is not abnormal, and it is not that uncommon, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about.
There are some foods mums-to-be may crave, however, it is important to stay away, or at least be very vigilant with such foods. These include:
- Raw and undercooked seafood, meat, and eggs
- Unpasteurized milk and any food made from it, such as Camembert and Mexican-style cheeses
- Unpasteurized juice
- Raw vegetable sprouts such as radish, alfalfa and clover
- Herbal teas
And lastly, here are some tips by Siobhan Dolan, MD, assistant medical director of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, on how to cope with these cravings:
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein, reduced-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
- So as to avoid blood sugar drops you need to eat regularly, in small doses. This should help lower the food cravings.
- Exercise regularly, but always get your doctor’s go-ahead before.
- If an unhealthy craving is driving you insane, try distracting yourself by going for a walk, reading, getting out of the kitchen…
- If you feel you are going to indulge the chocolate craving, have a mini-bar instead of the king-size one.
- Be aware of the calories you are having and focus on lower-calorie foods.
- Come up with healthy replacements for the treats you crave.