Have you ever asked yourself why do pregnant women have cravings? We are about to enter this subject in this article today.
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What Are Cravings during Pregnancy?
An increased appetite is a common characteristic during pregnancy and is practically the effect of hormones, especially the estrogen secreted by the placenta, which controls the normal development of pregnancy. What about cravings?
Craving after a certain food or taste is an indisputable characteristic of pregnancy. About 85% of women experience cravings for at least 1 type of food during while pregnant.
Most of the times, these cravings occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. Doctors claim that they are equally spoiled as well as necessary. Excessive estrogen gives a certain sensation of stress to pregnant women, which sometimes give themselves away to their need to eat. However, beware of the risk of gaining too much weight!
On the other hand, there is the idea since the beginning of time that the mother`s cravings are in fact the “baby`s needs. Not true! A well balanced diet is the only thing that a pregnant woman needs, and cravings are at most “bad moods” of the psyche, which is tensed by the new status, the prospects and hormonal excess, otherwise being something normal and necessary.
Doctors claim that cravings need to be satisfied, as long as they don`t mean abuses or exaggerations, because this way will be restored an inner balanced that was disturbed by the hormonal storms that women pass while pregnant.
What Studies Say?
A recent study shows that around 40% of pregnant women have a tendency of eating a lot of sweets, this being their biggest craving. On the 2nd place there are salty foods, they being the biggest craving for 33% of pregnant women, while on the 3rd place there are spicy foods for about 17% of pregnant women. On the 4th place there are fruits, like green apples or citrus, forming 10% from the preferred foods for pregnant women.
It`s scientifically proven that pregnant women have certain preferences. From the well known pickles to the rush of the fathers for strawberries – all are real. A cravings that was not satisfied, doesn`t ever lead to miscarriage.
There`s also the instinctive component. Most of the times, women eat exactly what they should, especially during the first trimester, to combat nausea, bloating or constipation, symptoms so specific to early pregnancy.
Unlimited cravings that usually cannot be controlled are a sign of gestational diabetes or other metabolic disorders, and which are a secondary effect of pregnancy.
Appetite is a well known symptom and it`s not really known the reason for which this pregnancy sign appears. Some believe that cravings indicate a nutritional insufficiency in a pregnant woman`s diet. But what can explain cravings for foods with low nutritional value (or none)?
What Foods Do Pregnant Women Crave for?
Some of the most common foods for which pregnant women crave for are those based on sugar, dairy, spicy foods, sour fruits and salty snacks. Based on these results, it`s not really surprising that ice cream, pickles, tomatoes, lemons, cheese or chocolate are among the first cravings that a woman has during pregnancy. On the other hand, meat is known as being among the most avoided foods while pregnant, although is rich in proteins and fats.
Strange combinations of foods, such as black olives or a cheese cake, pickles wrapped in cheese and eggplant pizza, represent an important craving for most pregnant women, although it`s also very common the craving of these foods taken individually. In lots of cases, most women who are expecting claimed that they craved for foods that otherwise they wouldn`t eat. Of course, this may happen both during pregnancy and after birth. – More details!
One of the most unusual cravings but, still relatively common, is known as pica. Pica is a term used for describing a craving for non-food products, such as toothpaste, laundry detergent, soap, mud, chalk or charcoal. While this craving may be dangerous, because pregnant women eaten some of the “items” outlined above, experts have deducted several theories about this type of craving and why it occurs during pregnancy.
Why Pregnant Women Have Cravings for Certain Foods?
There isn`t a sure answer about this issues that appear in pregnant women, meaning their constant need to crave for certain foods. In fact, some women who are expecting don`t pass through this experience. Even so, researchers tried to offer a few explanations to this problem.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy may alter the taste and smell sense of some pregnant women, thus making her desire for a certain food which otherwise wouldn`t have desired. This would explain why women in menopause pass most of the time through this experience.
Temporary nutritional deficiencies may cause the desire for a certain food. Still, this aspect doesn`t explain why some women tend to crave only for particular foods. Still, a craving for pickles, for example, may indicate a low level of sodium in the blood, while a craving for chocolate may show a deficiency for vitamin B. Cravings for red meat may indicate the body`s necessity for proteins, while cravings for peaches may show a low level of beta-carotene in the organism.
Emotional needs are known to be related to food consumption. A pregnant woman can crave for a specific food, consciously or unconsciously, as a response to emotional needs. A lot of women tend to eat “nostalgic” foods, meaning those that remind them of childhood or religion (especially if they aren`t part of it anymore). – More info!
Lack of certain pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, may be influenced by cravings for certain foods or pica. Particular substances may calm the digestive system, such as sodium bicarbonate, while coffee, alcohol and fried foods may induce nausea and even harm the pregnancy.
Pica – Cravings for Strange Things
One of the most unusual symptoms of pregnancy, and one that is actually quite common among pregnant women, is the need to eat inedible products. Pica is the term used to describe this type of craving, which is to eat toothpaste, detergent, chalk, cigarette butts, soap or charcoal. This phenomenon is dangerous for both the mother`s health as well as the baby`s. Experts have come up with theories regarding the reason that explain this unusual sign of pregnancy: one of the theories is that pregnant women are afraid of the moment of delivery and the pains during labor, therefore the organism secrets a hormone of stress.
How to Combat Cravings while Pregnant?
The most important rule that needs to be respected is to choose healthy foods and closer to your appetite. You can add to your diet salty, sour, spicy or sweet foods but, of course, in a well balanced way. Consider the following alternatives for a healthy pregnancy:
- Ice cream – Choose non-fat frozen yogurt, a food a good level of calcium in your body without adding calories.
- Chocolate – It can be replaced with sugar-free chocolate syrup that you can add on top of a fresh fruit.
- Candy and sweets – They can be replaced with dried fruits, such as apricots or tropical fruits, like mango or pineapple.
- Salty snacks – You can choose to eat popcorn with a mixture of herbs or dry bread with mustard.
- Sour snacks – Fish with lemons in a salad or a lemonade without sugar.
Try to always resist to Pica disorder, which can be harmful for you and your baby`s health. Contact your doctor if these cravings persist and they become unpleasant. You can eat other foods to satisfy your cravings (even if it`s about a bit of chocolate) to resist to Pica cravings and make anything possible to get this idea out of your mind. On occasion, this type of craving can be a sign for other problems, so you can talk to your doctor to perform a few tests.