Food Cravings During Pregnancy - Causes and Different Cravings
We’ve all heard the weird food craving pregnancy stories. Pickles and ice cream, hot dogs and peanut butter, or even pizza with hot fudge on it. And before you ask, yes, these are all pregnancy cravings that real women have had. Besides these food cravings, some women may even experience cravings for things that aren’t even food. In this article, we are going to break down what causes these cravings, common cravings, and foods you should not eat during pregnancy.
What Causes Food Cravings During Pregnancy?
Throughout your pregnancy, you will likely have some pretty intense food cravings. While every woman is different, the cravings typically begin at the end of the first trimester and tend to decline in the third trimester. Food cravings during pregnancy can be weird and volatile. One day you can love a certain food, and during pregnancy just the thought of it makes you want to vomit. Similarly, foods that you used to despise you can now crave. So, what causes this? Well, researchers still have not been able to determine the exact reason for food cravings during pregnancy but there are a variety of theories.
As with almost anything when it comes to pregnancy a possible culprit for your food cravings is hormones. Your rapid change in hormones can cause your senses to go crazy. You can smell and taste things much better which can influence the way you experience food.
Changes to your Senses
During pregnancy, your senses become very sensitive. You can smell things much better and this can affect the foods that you crave. Foods with particularly pungent odors may turn you away, while foods that smell good can increase your cravings for them.
Your body craves the nutrients it needs. If you suddenly find yourself dying for a glass of orange juice, your body may be telling you that it needs some Vitamin C. The same goes for your pregnancy cravings. Because you are growing a new life inside of you, your body will need more of certain nutrients. These can include calcium and iron. Unfortunately, our bodies are not very good at telling us what foods to eat to get these nutrients. For example, if you have an intense craving for chocolate your body most likely is deprived of magnesium. Chocolate doesn’t have a large amount of magnesium in it, but that doesn’t stop the cravings. This is the same with pregnancy cravings. Make sure you have a well-balanced diet with all of your necessary nutrients.
With your fluctuating hormones and increase of stress and anxiety about having a baby, you may find yourself reaching for comfort food. Anybody going through a particularly stressful time can reach for food as a coping mechanism. Pregnancy is one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life, it is only natural that we crave comfort food.
Common Food Cravings During Pregnancy
There are a few foods that many pregnant women tend to crave. One study determined that the most highly craved foods by pregnant women are:
- Fast Food (particularly high calorie, high carbohydrate foods)
- Animal Protein
Other common cravings include:
- Ice cream
- Fruit juice
In addition, many women crave a combination of these foods. That’s where weird pregnancy cravings come from such as pizza (fast food) with chocolate on it (sweet). Not only that, but some women are known to crave food outside of their dietary restrictions. For example, a woman who eats a vegetarian diet may find herself craving meat. This can be an indication that you are iron deficient. If you want to maintain your vegetarian diet you can try to add more iron-rich foods to your diet. Or if you are not too stringent, you can just give in and eat meat during your pregnancy.
Foods Not To Eat During Pregnancy
Most of the time it is perfectly fine and normal to give in to your pregnancy cravings. Sometimes, this is not the case. Some foods that you may crave can cause complications in your pregnancy. Foods like sushi, undercooked meat, soft cheese, and deli meats can lead to bacterial infections. Similarly, many women crave alcoholic drinks. This can be easily remedied with a virgin version of the drink.
Dangerous Cravings During Pregnancy
Some of the oddest cravings that can come from pregnancy are cravings for non-food items. Women have been known to crave cigarettes, concrete, detergent, or even paint chips. Craving non-food items is a condition called pica. Pica is not uncommon in pregnant women and usually is an indication of a nutritional deficiency. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your cravings so they can recommend a good course of action, such as supplements or an adjustment to your diet.