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Food cravings during Pregnancy
Almost 85% of pregnant women crave for citrus fruits, sour and salty foods like pickles, ice cream or some other strange foods like clay or chalk during their pregnancy. There are numerous theories about pregnancy cravings. It is difficult to pinpoint one cause, but most of these cravings are related to the body demands and hormonal changes that occur in the body of a pregnant woman. Doctors generally agree that cravings are normal during pregnancy, even if the craving is for indulging in some unhealthy foods.
Most women experience these food cravings in the second part of the day or evening and very few of them crave for something during the night. So, what happens during the pregnancy that a woman craves for some food which she never liked before or she could not even stand its smell before! Why a vegetarian woman would crave for a meat burger? There are many explanations given by the experts.
What Causes Food Cravings during Pregnancy?
Studies were conducted to find out what foods the pregnant women crave for and when. The most common cravings are the salty, sour, sweet, bitter and spicy foods in different stages of pregnancy. For example, women stay away from bitter foods in the first quarter of pregnancy. They often crave for sweet foods in early stages of pregnancy. They tend to crave more for salty, sour and bitter foods like pickles in advanced stages of pregnancy.
In the first quarter of pregnancy, women avoid eating bitter foods. This is a natural response to protect the fetus, because humans associate bitterness with poison – as most poisonous plants and fruits are bitter in taste. This acute perception of bitterness helps pregnant women avoid bitter foods and alcohol during the early stages of pregnancy. However, it is interesting to note that some women crave for bitter foods in the third quarter of pregnancy when the fetus critical development phase is already completed.
Craving for pickles and ice cream in pregnant women occurs because their body craves for certain nutrients. Many experts say pregnancy cravings indicate different types of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and so their body craves for these foods containing those nutrients. It is certainly true in the case of pica syndrome, when women crave for chalk, clay and other things which they would not eat normally.
So craving for milk, ice cream or chalk could mean that your body needs a greater amount of calcium, Cravings for sour fruit may signal a lack of vitamin C. In fact, fruits, milk and dairy products like chocolate and salty snacks are the most common among pregnant cravings. Most women prefer to eat salty foods such as potato chips during pregnancy, because their body needs more sodium as blood volume increases in their body. Craving for meat would mean the body needs more protein.
One thing for sure is that the cravings of pregnant women change throughout the pregnancy, and this is reflected in the food that they choose to eat during these nine months. Your body is working 24 hours, 7 days and creates these cravings to maintain a healthy child.
Role of Hormones in Pregnancy Cravings
Other studies claim that the pregnancy food cravings are actually linked to hormonal changes in the body. This theory is supported by the fact that many women crave unusual food during their menstrual cycle characterized by extremely high levels of hormones. During pregnancy similar hormonal changes occur as in certain periods of the menstrual cycle, so pregnant women may have different appetites. The same explanation applies to menopause, when women may feel different cravings or aversions to certain foods. However, this does not explain why cravings change from one quarter to another. A woman may hate pickles in one quarter and crave for it in the next quarter.
Also, woman’s relationship with food is highly influenced by psychology. Backstage functioning of the human mind may be the reason why some pregnant women drool at the thought of eating some spicy crackers, while others crave for chips.
Craving for Inedible Things
Craving for weird things such as starch or cigarette butts are linked with lack of iron in the body, although none of these products contain a significant amount of this substance. About cravings for inedible products, experts say that in most cases this occurs due to smell or texture of the product. If the pregnant woman consumes such things it could harm both fetus and mother. So, it is recommended to consult your doctor. Doctor may prescribe other edible sources or supplements to compensate for the lack of iron, minerals and vitamins.
Do Pregnancy Cravings Have Any Meaning?
What you need to do when you crave for some foods is to give them attention and meet these body cravings if they are healthy. In other cases, you should find healthy alternatives to meet your body demands.
We know that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and provides energy for the whole day. Hence, having a healthy breakfast is of increasing importance. If you skip this important mean, you’d have all the chances that your cravings to be fierce. Physical exercise and emotional support are equally important to reduce food cravings during pregnancy.