It’s probably one of the first questions anybody will ask you after they find out you’re pregnant: How are you dealing with pregnancy cravings?
In fact, food cravings in pregnancy are one of the most peculiar side effects of pregnancy. Why on earth will the future mummy suddenly crave the weirdest (and sometimes most disgusting!) food combinations? Well, grab a fork, because we’re going to discover it in this article!
Why do we have pregnancy cravings?
At this point, you probably know to recognise cravings in pregnancy, and are well aware of their characteristics: You want that, and you want it now – which means that they are urgent and admit no substitutions.
That urgency to eat something in particular can include all sort of things, from pickles to ice-cream, and can also include weird combinations that will make your partner, family and friends look the other way in disgust. Maybe you are even craving something you had never enjoyed eating before! Don’t worry, it’s all normal, and your taste buds will eventually be fine.
But why do we have cravings during pregnancy? According to experts, there are a variety of possible causes – although none of them has been scientifically proven:
- Pregnancy hormones: Yes, they are to blame again – at least partially. Pregnancy hormones have an effect in our sense of smell and taste, and they can provoke changes in our preferences. Food and smell aversions are yet another consequence of this.
- Vitamin deficiencies: Some studies show that a lack of vitamin B or magnesium could make you crave chocolate, that not enough protein could make you drool for red meat, and that a deficiency in beta-carotene could make you long for peaches. Some other deficiencies could provoke very weird pregnancy cravings: Some nutritionists say that a lack of iron could make future mummies want ice… or cigarette butts! This condition of craving something other than food is called pica.
- Food for love: Anxiety and the need of more affection could also result in pregnancy cravings – proof of that is that usually, future mummies crave more “forbidden” foods than healthy ones!
- Brain tricks: Can you think of other occasions where you have had food cravings? That’s right: your period (or when you are PMS-ing). Some studies have proven that the area in our brain that responds to taste is located very close to the one that’s related to our uterus, so one could be affecting the other.
How to deal with pregnancy cravings
During pregnancy, it’s important to keep healthy! The common saying that a pregnant woman is eating for two isn’t true at all, since she will just have to increase her daily calorie count in order to gain weight steadily. Many times, pregnancy cravings seem to get in the way of this ideal healthy paradise.
But it’s important to give in to pregnant cravings from time to time, and it’s just not a matter of indulging. Enjoying a pregnancy craving has a positive effect in the future mummy, since it will calm her anxiety. Besides, it will make you happy – and that is very important, with or without a baby in the way!
However, we can’t forget that eating healthy is a must during pregnancy, so we can’t always give in to them, especially if we have too many of them or we have them too often.
Here you have a few tips to control food cravings during pregnancy:
- A breakfast for champions: A tip that works for non-pregnancy related cravings as well! Have a big and healthy breakfast every morning and you will find that it is easier for you to control your hunger during the rest of the day.
- Reduce anxiety: Doing exercise is good for that and, besides, it makes you produce more endorphins – the hormones responsible for your happiness!
- Love for food: Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs, kisses and cuddles – it may help with your pregnancy cravings as well.
- Try to find alternatives: Yes, we know. If you want pickles, you want pickles. But sometimes you can find healthier substitutes. For instance, if you’re craving chocolate, maybe you can try sugar-free dark chocolate instead of that milk chocolate caramel bar that seems to be looking at you from the counter…
Satisfying your pregnancy cravings can ben very rewarding, but there are some occasions when you shouldn’t do it – that is, if you are craving foods to avoid during pregnancy, such as coffee or raw fish or meat. Unfortunately, those will have to wait!
The top pregnancy cravings
Pregnancy cravings affect three of every four future mummy – which is a lot! And such a wide sample gives experts lots of space to run statistics. According to a survey performed by BabyCenter, 40% of hungry future mummies found that they craved sweet foods, and 33% found that the preferred savoury things. 17% proved to be more gourmet and craved spicy foods, whereas 10% chose sour foods. Interesting, right?
You can crave a variety of different things – and those change from one future mummy to another, for sure. However, there are some foods that tend to get more attention during pregnancy, like the following:
- Ice cream: Of course, such a yummy goodness had to be in the list.
- Chocolate: The next best thing.
- Crisps: A bag of crisps from time to time won’t hurt you, but try to pick a small one, just to satisfy your craving. They contain tons of fats!
- Pickles: Crunch, vinegar and a strong taste. And low on calories!
- Soda: It contains lots of sugar, so don’t overdo it!
- Coffee: A pregnancy craving or just a coming-off symptom for caffeine addicts? Who knows! It’s better not to give in to this one, but you can have a cup a day if you can’t manage without. Make it decaf, maybe you’ll trick your taste buds!
- Red meat: It could indicate that you’re low on protein. Don’t forget to cook it well!
- Fruit: Luckily, not all the cravings are unhealthy! Lemon is in the top of the list for those who crave sour tastes.
- Fast food: But we don’t need to be pregnant to wish for comfort food, right?
So now that you know a little bit more about pregnancy cravings, maybe you’re not feeling so weird after all. And now you have tons of arguments to tell your partner if he or she’s denying you that chocolate ice-cream you’ve been longing for all week! But remember: Satisfy them sometimes, but health has to come first!