Food Cravings During Pregnancy
What do pregnant women crave? Or perhaps the question should be, what don’t pregnant women crave??
A recent survey discovered that:
- almost 40% wanted “something sweet”
- About 33% opted for salty snacks
- About 17% wanted Mexican and spicy foods
- And 10% craved citrus fruits, green apples, and other lip-puckering tart or sour foods.
OK, so that’s all fair and good, but what does it all mean? Let’s take a look at what the experts say about the different food cravings which pregnant women suffer from.
Cheese and Caramel sandwiches…… anyone??
The craving for a particular type of food is an undeniable part of carrying a baby and about 85% of women report at least one food craving during the course of their pregnancy. Not all of these cravings can be neatly cataloged, or stomached. Some women crave weird and wonderful items such as:
- Pickles wrapped in cheese
- Salsa spooned straight out of the jar
- Steak fat — just steak fat!
- Black olives on Sara Lee cheesecake???
- And the list goes on…….
Many of these cravings seem to come out of nowhere, and thankfully they disappear just as quickly, usually only after the pregnancy though. So where do the cravings come from. Hormones, right? Well… maybe.
Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, says that the extreme hormonal changes women go through during their pregnancy can have a powerful impact on taste and smell. But the bottom line, says Somer, is that no one really knows for sure.
What do food cravings mean?
As to what a particular craving signifies, the answer to that depends on who you ask. Some nutritionists and healthcare practitioners believe that certain cravings may be meaningful. For example, cravings for ice and bizarre substances such as laundry starch and cigarette butts, a condition known as pica, have been linked to an iron deficiency, even though none of these items contain significant amounts of iron.
Some alternative medicine practitioners believe that a shortage of B vitamins can trigger a craving for chocolate. One expert has discovered that many patients need more essential fatty acids in their diet. Once they start taking flax oil, their food cravings disappear. Similarly, a craving for red meat seems like a cry for protein.
Still, Somer doesn’t see much of a link between a pregnant woman’s cravings and what her body needs. “People think their cravings are significant, but studies show no link between cravings and nutritional requirements,” she says. “If people craved what the body needs, we would all eat more broccoli and less chocolate.”
What to do about your cravings?
In the end most experts seem to agree that you should pay attention to your pregnancy cravings, indulging the healthy ones and coming up with alternatives to the less healthy cravings. Simply substituting nonfat frozen yogurt for ice cream can be a healthy alternative to curb your cravings.
Other ways to curb unhealthy cravings include:
- Eat breakfast every day
- Get plenty of exercise
- Have plenty of emotional support