“There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation.”
—James E. Faust
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. The fact that a woman is about to welcome a newborn to this world is itself fascinating. But the phase and journey are not easy – there are several ups and downs, pains and happiness associated with it. One such known fact is having food cravings during pregnancy. Most of us associate craving for tasty and delicious food at this time as a positive thing. But is it the case?
Be it a lack of sufficient diet or pregnancy hormones, cravings while pregnant, although it is a common scenario, it is essential to know the healthy and unhealthy or risky side of it. Today we are here to let you know and caution you about the types of cravings and tips to control the same. Why wait, let’s get into this!
What are Cravings in Pregnancy:
If you want to eat different types of food which you usually do not like or have, then these are the pregnancy cravings. The pregnancy cravings generally start around eight weeks to 12 weeks and are also associated with morning sickness. It is quite common to notice such wanting and craving to eat food, and studies found that around more than 50 to 90% of women in the US experience the same. But are they safe to indulge in? Let’s find out!
See More: Healthy Pregnancy Meals
What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?
Craving for one or more combinations of food, which you may or may not like is common at this period. If the expectant mother is craving for food which she generally loves or is among her favourite cuisines, then there is no unusualness at it. But on the other hand, few cases have been registered where women have eating disorders and unusual cravings. Doctors cannot quite tell the exact reason behind the same. However, there is a specific range of factors that may cause cravings.
Few of the explanations on why pregnancy cravings occur include hormone-based shift during pregnancy, diabetes issue, lack of sufficient diet or healthy balanced mineral and protein intake or change in properties of taste and its sensitivities.
When do Does Pregnancy Cravings begin?
For most women, one can notice the cravings begin within the first trimester of pregnancy itself. However, it gets increasing in the second trimester, and by the third trimester, they mostly decline or come back to normal. Having food cravings every day is quite a common scenario here.
Most Common Food Cravings in Pregnancy:
Let us jump into taking a look at the most common and popular pregnancy craving list which takes place at this point and why are they caused. The most commonly reported cravings are,
What might seem quite odd to us, Pregnant women love to take a dig at Ice cubes. While there is no scientific basis for such a craving, it is generally believed that pregnant women suffer from short bouts of anaemia during the phase. A common symptom of anaemia is inflammation of mouth and tongue. Ice seeks to provide relief from the inflammation. Further, there are also few studies which tell low calcium and iron zinc levels cause a craving for ice and similar items like cornstarch etc.
2. Chocolates and Other Sweets:
We all love to gorge on Chocolates! But it is strange when you see a pregnant lady craving on loads of chocolate more than enough for two to three people at a go. During pregnancy, a woman’s body is subjected to hormonal imbalance. Consumption of chocolate releases feel-good hormones ‘Dopamine’ in the body, somewhat neutralizing the effect of the inequality. Chocolates and similar foods are among the most common cravings during pregnancy, and they are generally related to carbohydrate and calorie deficiency.
3. Spicy Foods:
Foods laced with spices, that might kick the soul out of a healthy individual excites an expectant mother. Due to the presence of Capsaicin, which is a nerve stimulant, these foods increase the adrenaline content of the body in a jiffy. Craving such spicy Indian food during pregnancy is quite reasonable for women even in the west.
See More: Diet Plans For Overweight Pregnant Women
4. Sour Foods:
It is quite common even to crave sour foods like lemon during pregnancy. While lemon and similar citrus food cravings are unusual to hear, they are due to issues in the digestive system. If you are craving for one such food, do not worry, have in moderation as we always tell you!
Although arguments are in favour of women having Sodium and salt deficiency, there is no proof as to why pregnant women crave for Pickles. Most would agree to the fact that the Tangy taste of Pickles is a welcome change for the taste buds otherwise accustomed to ‘healthy foods’ during those months. Further, hormonal fluctuations are also said to be among the common cause of pickle cravings during pregnancy.
6. Ice Cream:
Loaded with sugars and extra calories, the rich and creamy ice cream tops the delight charts of a pregnant woman. No wonder you would see a pregnant woman drive for hours to the nearest Ice cream parlour to have her favourite vanilla cone. This common ice cream craving during pregnancy mostly happens due to low levels of calcium in your body. Alternatively, the need for calories in the body can also cause these cravings.
Coffee contains caffeine, another nerve stimulant that elevates the mood and charges a lethargic body. Though doctors do not recommend Coffee craving during pregnancy, who could dare come between coffee and a pregnant woman? Still, coffee consumption should be under strict supervision during pregnancy.
8. Soda and Fizzy Drinks:
Pregnant women often complain of a queasy feeling when waking up in the morning. The fizz of soda promises to settle the queasiness due to the strong presence of Carbon dioxide. Though much cravings for fizzy drinks during pregnancy is common, it is best to avoid them! However, carbonated drinks containing caffeine should be avoided.
9. Dairy Products:
It is not surprising for a soon-would-be-lactating mother to crave dairy products such as Milk, Cheese, yoghurt and clarified butter(ghee). Milk products are rich sources of Calcium and protein, which is of utmost importance for the growing fetus and the mother. Those women who have calcium deficiency mostly crave for such dairy products Hence. Craving cheese, milk and yoghurt while pregnant is not uncommon at all.
10. Fruit and Fruit Juices:
Craving for fruit during pregnancy? Low levels of folic acids generally make women crave for fruit intake. One of the healthiest food cravings while pregnant, nuts are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women craving fruits primarily go for Citrus foods such as oranges and mangoes. Consumption of other fruits such as watermelon, grapes and apples is equally refreshing and beneficial during the months of pregnancy. It is a breather from all the junk food cravings in pregnancy. This healthy obsession might seem odd to many if you were not a big fan of fruit juices previously.
Though technically not a food, but who cares when a pregnant woman turns heads with her more than average salt intake? Low levels of sodium in the body of expectant mothers can entirely cause a craving for salty foods and salt level intake. Excessive consumption of salt is harmful though!
Meat, especially red meat, is one of the most common cravings during pregnancy. It is a rich source of proteins, potassium and iron. So if your body is less in any of these, well, then you may crave for meat. Avoid canned meat as it comes to craving salty foods during pregnancy since the meat comes with high salt content.
If you are having too many cravings for fish and other seafood while pregnant, then maybe your body is signalling you to consume a good quantity of omega-three acids. If you are deficient in omega-three fatty acids, then it is common to experience this craving.
14. Fast Food:
Some studies suggest that women even crave high fat and fast food variants to satisfy their cravings during pregnancy. While several reasons are attributed to this scenario, most of the time, reduced fatty acid deficiency can quite lead to this cravings.
Healthy Food Alternatives for Pregnancy Cravings:
If you crave for certain unhealthy foods, do not worry, we do have healthy options waiting for you to fix your cravings based on body deficiencies.
Risks of Pregnancy Cravings:
Just because you have a craving, it is essential to note that one must not consume everything they feel like eating. They may cause adverse side effects and health defects. For instance, salt cravings do not mean consumption of too much salt which can also lead to long term birth disorders.
Further, there may also be food aversions due to cravings frequently. The cravings are also associated with nausea and vomiting, along with morning sickness. These may be because of hormonal reactions or unappetizing foods. Further, a series of unhealthy food cravings and consumption may lead to gestational diabetes, heavyweight gain and other birth concerns. It is crucial to strike a balance with cravings and healthy food necessities required for both mother and child.
Tips for Controlling Cravings:
You cannot work on stopping the weird cravings while you are pregnant. So here we give you some alternatives and advice on managing them,
- Stock up on having healthy snacks for pregnancy cravings in your refrigerator. Keep out junk food in any case.
- Find out a healthy substitute for your cravings. Have lots of fruits and vegetables and substitute your cravings with these healthy alternatives while pregnant.
- Focus on proper nutrition. Once a while, cheat foods would do but should not become on as a habit. Pregnancy can get stressful, and one must remember this.
- Eat frequently in regular intervals so that your body stabilizes blood sugar levels, and cravings can be controlled.
- Have plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Be in moderation. Know when to limit and draw a line and when to skip altogether.
It is okay to indulge in your favourite food once a while, but not make a habit. Cravings for sweets, salt, sugar and sour food during pregnancy are quite common, and it is all about balancing the same. I hope this comprehensive guide gives you a glimpse of what best to eat and avoid when during pregnancy. Hence it is crucial to know the healthy alternatives one can take at this point.
Always consult your health care provider for best advice and tips on what to eat and to skip based on your health profile. The cravings and limits of quantities can quite differ as per body and health type, and it is vital to visit the doctor before taking one’s own decision.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q1. When to consult your doctor about pregnancy cravings?
Ans: Some cravings can be quite dangerous. If you feel like eating soil, dirt, soap, or other nonfood items, then it is time you must rush and consult your doctor.
Q2. What are food aversions during pregnancy time?
Ans: There may be food aversions taking place during pregnancy, be it at an early stage near to the first trimester or even in the mid-second trimester. This is not a common situation, but women do find themselves to be having food aversions, wanting to eat non-food items or getting sick through eating usual cravings. Vomiting, nausea and morning sickness are frequent during this time.
Q3. Can food cravings during pregnancy predict the gender of the baby?
Ans: There are myths that food cravings can tell and predict which gender baby is going to be. However, there is no established scientific evidence for the same.
Q4. Is it normal to have no or weird food cravings during pregnancy?
Ans: It is perfectly normal not to have any cravings during pregnancy. You do not worry about this case. However, as mentioned, if you have unusual cravings for non-food items, then you must visit a doctor.