Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. The fact that a woman is about to welcome a newborn into this world is fascinating in itself. But the phase and the journey are not easy: there are various ups and downs, pains and happiness associated with it. One of those known facts is having food cravings during pregnancy. Most of us associate the craving for tasty and delicious food right now as a positive. But that’s how it is?
Whether due to lack of a sufficient diet or pregnancy hormones, cravings during pregnancy, 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 warn you about the types of cravings and tips to control them. Why wait? Let’s get into this!
What are cravings in pregnancy?
If you want to eat different types of foods that you generally don’t like or don’t eat, then these are pregnancy cravings. Pregnancy cravings generally start around eight to 12 weeks and are also associated with morning sickness. It’s quite common to notice such a desire and craving to eat, and studies found that about 50 to 90% of women in the US experience the same. But are they safe to enjoy? Let’s find out!
What Causes Cravings During Pregnancy?
The desire for one or more food combinations, which you may or may not like, is common in this period. If the expectant mother craves the food that she generally loves or is among her favorite cuisines, then there is nothing unusual about it. But on the other hand, few cases have been recorded in which women have eating disorders and unusual cravings. Doctors cannot tell the exact reason behind the same. However, there are a specific variety of factors that can cause cravings.
Few of the explanations for why cravings occur during pregnancy include hormonal changes during pregnancy, diabetes problems, lack of a sufficient diet or balanced intake of minerals and proteins, or changes in taste properties and their sensitivities.
When do cravings start during pregnancy?
For most women, one may notice that the cravings start within the first trimester of pregnancy. However, it increases in the second trimester and, by the third trimester, they mostly decrease or return to normal. Having food cravings every day is a fairly common scenario here.
Most common food cravings during pregnancy:
Let’s take a look at the list of the most common and popular pregnancy cravings that take place at this point and why they are caused. The most commonly reported cravings are,
Which might seem quite strange to us, pregnant women love to try ice cubes. While there is no scientific basis for such a craving, it is generally believed that pregnant women suffer brief bouts of anemia during the phase. A common symptom of anemia is inflammation of the mouth and tongue. Ice seeks to relieve inflammation. Furthermore, there are also few studies indicating that low levels of calcium and iron and zinc cause a craving for ice and similar items like cornstarch etc.
2. Chocolates and other sweets:
We all love gorging ourselves on chocolates! But it’s strange when you see a pregnant woman craving a lot of chocolate more than enough for two or three people at a time. During pregnancy, a woman’s body is subject to hormonal imbalance. The consumption of chocolate releases the hormones ‘dopamine’ that make us feel good in the body, somehow neutralizing the effect of inequality. Chocolates and similar foods are among the most common cravings during pregnancy and are generally linked to carbohydrate and calorie deficiencies.
3. Spicy foods:
Foods mixed with spices, which could bring out the soul of a healthy individual, excite 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. Wishing for such a spicy Indian food during pregnancy is quite reasonable for women, even in the West.
4. Acidic foods:
It is quite common to even have cravings for acidic foods like lemon during pregnancy. While similar lemon and citrus cravings are unusual to hear, they are due to problems in the digestive system. If you crave one of those foods, don’t worry, take it in moderation as we always tell you!
Although the arguments are in favor of women who are sodium and salt deficient, there is no evidence why pregnant women crave pickles. Most would agree with the fact that the spicy taste of pickles is a welcome change for taste buds that are otherwise used to ‘health food’ during those months. Furthermore, hormonal fluctuations are also said to be among the common cause of pickle cravings during pregnancy.
6. Ice cream:
Loaded with added sugars and calories, the rich, creamy ice cream tops the lists of a pregnant woman’s delight. It’s no wonder you see a pregnant woman driving hours to the nearest ice cream parlor to eat her favorite vanilla cone. This common craving for ice cream during pregnancy occurs mainly due to low levels of calcium in your body. Alternatively, the body’s need for calories can also cause these cravings.
Coffee contains caffeine, another nerve stimulant that elevates mood and loads a lethargic body. Although doctors do not recommend the desire for coffee during pregnancy, who could dare to come between coffee and a pregnant woman? Still, coffee consumption should be under strict supervision during pregnancy.
8. Soft drinks and carbonated drinks:
Pregnant women often complain of a feeling of discomfort upon waking up in the morning. The fizzy soda promises to ease nausea due to the strong presence of carbon dioxide. Although it is common to have a lot of cravings for sodas during pregnancy, they are best avoided! However, carbonated beverages that contain caffeine should be avoided.
9. Dairy products:
Not surprisingly, a breastfeeding expectant mother craves dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and clarified butter (ghee). Dairy products are rich sources of calcium and protein, which is of utmost importance for the growing fetus and the mother. Those women who are deficient in calcium mainly crave such dairy products. It is not uncommon to have cravings for cheese, milk, and yogurt during pregnancy.
10. Fruits and fruit juices:
Do you want to eat fruit during pregnancy? Low levels of folic acid generally make women crave fruit intake. One of the healthiest food cravings during pregnancy, nuts are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women who crave fruits mostly prefer citrus foods like oranges and mangoes. Consuming other fruits such as watermelon, grape, and apple is equally refreshing and beneficial during the pregnancy months. It’s a respite from all the junk food cravings during pregnancy. This healthy obsession may seem strange to many if you weren’t a big fan of fruit juices before.
Although not technically a food, who cares when a pregnant woman turns heads with her above-average salt intake? Low levels of sodium in the body of pregnant women can completely cause a craving for salty foods and high levels of salt intake. However, consuming too much salt is harmful!
Meat, especially red meat, is one of the most common cravings during pregnancy. It is a rich source of protein, potassium, and iron. So if your body has less in any of these, well then it may crave meat. Avoid canned meat as it involves eating salty foods during pregnancy as meat is high in salt.
If you have too many cravings for fish and other shellfish during pregnancy, then maybe your body is telling you to get a good amount 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 fast food and high-fat variants to satisfy their cravings during pregnancy. While various reasons are attributed to this scenario, most of the time, reducing fatty acid deficiency can lead to these cravings.
Healthy food alternatives for cravings during pregnancy:
If you crave certain unhealthy foods, don’t worry, we have healthy options waiting for you to fix your cravings based on bodily deficiencies.
Risks of cravings during pregnancy:
Just because you have a craving, it is essential to keep in mind that you should not consume everything you feel like eating. They can cause adverse side effects and health defects. For example, salt cravings do not mean consuming too much salt, which can also lead to long-term birth disorders.
Furthermore, there may also be aversion to food due to frequent cravings. Cravings are also associated with nausea and vomiting, along with morning sickness. These may be due to hormonal reactions or unappetizing foods. Also, a series of cravings and unhealthy food consumption can lead to gestational diabetes, weight gain, and other birth problems. It is essential to find a balance between cravings and the healthy food needs necessary for both mother and child.
Tips to control cravings:
You cannot work to stop strange cravings while you are pregnant. So here we give you some alternatives and tips to manage them,
- Stock Up On Healthy Snacks For Pregnancy Cravings In Your Fridge. Keep Junk Food Out In Any Case.
- Find A Healthy Substitute For Your Cravings. Eat Plenty Of Fruits And Vegetables And Replace Your Cravings With These Healthy Alternatives During Pregnancy.
- Focus On Proper Nutrition. Occasionally Cheat Meals Would Do The Trick, But They Shouldn’t Become A Habit. Pregnancy Can Become Stressful And This Must Be Remembered.
- Eat Frequently At Regular Intervals So Your Body Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels And Can Control Cravings.
- Drink Lots Of Water And Stay Hydrated.
- Be In Moderation. Know When To Limit And Draw A Line And When To Skip It Entirely.
It’s okay to indulge in your favorite food once in a while, but don’t become a habit. Cravings for sweets, salt, sugar, and acidic foods during pregnancy are quite common, and it’s all about balancing them. I hope this comprehensive guide gives you an idea of what is best to eat and avoid during pregnancy. Therefore, it is essential to know the healthy alternatives that can be taken at this time.
Always consult your healthcare provider for the best tips and advice on what to eat and what to skip based on your health profile. Cravings and quantity limits can differ greatly depending on your body and health type, and it is vital to visit your doctor before making a decision.
Frequently asked questions and answers:
Q1. When to see your doctor about pregnancy cravings?
Years: Some cravings can be quite dangerous. If you feel like eating dirt, dirt, soap, or other non-food items, it’s time for you to hurry up and see your doctor.
Q2. What are food aversions during pregnancy?
Years: There may be aversions to food during pregnancy, either in an early stage near the first trimester or even in the middle of the second trimester. This is not a common situation, but women experience aversion to food, want to eat non-food items, or get sick from eating habitual cravings. Vomiting, nausea, and morning sickness are common during this time.
Q3. Can food cravings during pregnancy predict the sex of the baby?
Years: There are myths that food cravings can indicate and predict what gender the baby will be. However, there is no established scientific evidence for it.
Q4. Is it normal not to have cravings or to have strange cravings during pregnancy?
Years: It is perfectly normal not to have cravings during pregnancy. Don’t worry about this case. However, as mentioned above, if you have unusual cravings for non-food items, you should visit a doctor.