Many people tend to associate pregnancy with cravings. In fact, when you mention ice cream and pickles, most people tend to immediately picture a pregnant woman thoroughly enjoying her snack. In reality, a lot of pregnant women won’t end up craving pickles and ice cream in particular, but the majority will have some sort of cravings while they are pregnant. Some research found that 68% of pregnant women will experience a craving at some point.
When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?
Although most pregnant women will have food cravings during their pregnancy, it is also equally likely that they will have food aversions. Most of the time cravings begin during the first trimester and experts think this may be due to the first wave of hormones entering the bloodstream. It is actually possible to get cravings a week after conceiving, so in some cases it can be an early sign of pregnancy. You don’t usually have to worry about cravings unless they leave you wanting a non-food item like dirt. Most of the time the cravings will disappear or decrease by the fourth month of pregnancy. If they are still there in the third trimester, it is usually for comfort as opposed to a physical craving or need.
What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?
Cravings are usually due to pregnancy hormones and this is especially true early on in your pregnancy when your body only recently began experiencing higher hormone levels and is still adjusting. It is also (at least somewhat) true that you will crave the items your body needs and feel repulsed by items that won’t help it. While that theory explains an aversion to alcohol or coffee when pregnant, it doesn’t explain how someone who used to love healthy items such as oatmeal or salad would suddenly change their preferences. Some experts believe that we are far enough removed from our original food chain, so our bodies aren’t able to interpret the internal signals. In other words, although our bodies know what nutrients we need, they don’t crave the appropriate foods.
It is common for pregnant women to have a food aversion (or more than one) or at least a new feeling of being repulsed by some food that they used to love. In cases where your diet becomes too limited because of food aversions, try to find some healthy substitutes to take their place. There is also a drug, Diclegis, which can help with the symptoms of early pregnancy that are related to nausea.
What to Do with Pregnancy Cravings
|Indulge in moderation||If you have pregnancy cravings that are not nutritionally helpful, then indulge in them, but in moderation. An example would be opting for a small chocolate bar instead of the larger king-size or trying to have a cup of low-fat chocolate milk.|
|Distract yourself||If you feel a craving, do your best to distract yourself from it. Go to the gym or for a walk. Sometimes even simple things like reading or talking to a friend can help you forget about your craving.|
|Give in smartly||Feel free to give in to your cravings occasionally. When you do, however, try to make healthy food choices later on in the day to make up for it.|
|Talk to your doctor||Some women experience cravings known as pica which are for odd substances that are not food items such as laundry soap, ashes, clay, or dirt. In some cases, pica indicates an iron deficiency or a lack of another nutrient.|
More Tips on Dealing with Pregnancy Cravings
1. Follow a Healthy Diet. Most experts are of the opinion that while you should keep your pregnancy cravings in mind, you shouldn’t necessarily follow them. It is true that following a healthy diet will give you all of the needed nutrients, but some people feel that food will satisfy emotional needs. In some cases, a hug may even work as well as following the food cravings.
2. Live a Healthy Lifestyle. No matter what, be sure to have a balanced breakfast every morning as skipping breakfast will increase your cravings. You should also try to get enough exercise and eat well throughout the day, so you have a healthy and varied diet. Always mention odd cravings to your doctor to rule out any issues.
3. Avoid Unhealthy Foods. It is okay to give in to your cravings every once in a while as long as you do so in moderation. However, you should never follow a craving if it means eating a food unhealthy for pregnant women. If you are unsure whether or not an item is safe to eat during pregnancy, consult your doctor.
What Food Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?
Despite cravings, you should try not to use your pregnancy as a built-in excuse for binging on unhealthy items such as processed baked goods, chips, cake, and chocolate. They are fine in moderation and can help you emotionally, but be sure to eat them in moderation.
Other foods should always be avoided during pregnancy including:
- Fruits and vegetables that haven’t been washed
- Soft cheeses that are mold-ripened (Roquefort, camembert, feta, and brie)
- Cheese that has blue veins
- Raw or lightly cooked meat, eggs, shellfish, or seafood (including sushi)
- Unpasteurized dairy products (such as milk)
- Herbal teas
- Deep sea fish as it contains mercury (this includes marlin, shark, and swordfish)
- Peanuts in cases where there is a family history of allergies (even if you aren’t allergic, your baby may be)