Welcome to the amazing world of pregnancy, where your body begins to have a mind of its own and you realize that you have no control over whatsoever.
During your pregnancy, a lot of changes – both subtle and huge – will happen to your body. Not long after you see that positive sign on the pregnancy test, you will begin to feel tired most of the time, and you may experience morning (or whole day) sickness.
There will also be awkward changes like urinating frequently, constipation and/or diarrhea, and acne flare up. And we haven’t started talking about the hormonal changes yet where you tearfully watch animal videos on the internet.
Also, pregnancy is going to make you second-guess things. Are you really hungry or is that the first warning sign of acid reflux? Are you having cramps or is it just gas?
And then there's cravings.
Some people believe that pregnancy cravings are only myths propagated by movies and television shows. But ask any pregnant woman and she will gladly tell you that cravings are real… and strong... and intense.
Craving specific foods during pregnancy is normal and common. In fact, for some women, it was not the missed period that led them to ask themselves if they were pregnant. It was them craving for something that they didn’t particularly like before!
These cravings range from mildly weird, like bananas dipped in ketchup, to plain inedible, like dirt or metal. But what causes these pregnancy cravings?
What causes pregnancy cravings?
Many experts claim that pregnant women crave what they lack. For example, if you lack calcium, you may crave ice cream. Basically, they are saying that cravings are a way to fill the nutrients that your body may need.
Some also believe that cravings are a natural way to increase a pregnant woman’s appetite. When you are pregnant, it is essential to increase your daily caloric intake for the health and development of your baby. This may be true when a woman craves foods that are high in calories, such as chocolate cake or pizza.
But what about unusual pregnancy cravings? What are they for? Like pregnancy itself, cravings can be weird and unpredictable. To help you prepare for this phase of pregnancy, here are ten things you might want to know about cravings.
10 Things to Know About Pregnancy Cravings
Craving during pregnancy is generally harmless, but to be able to better prepare for it, here are some things you should know about the experience.
1. According to studies, most women crave carbohydrates.
On top of the most popular foods craved by pregnant women are carbohydrate-rich – and often sweet – foods like chocolate and pastries. According to OB-GYN Felice Gersh, M.D., one theory has something to do with survival. Food cravings increase the chances of survival of a mother and her baby.
By craving carbohydrate-rich foods, the doctor says that it may help replenish the nutrients that were lost during the first trimester, when nausea and vomiting happened often.
2. There are many old wives’ tales about pregnancy cravings.
Pregnancy cravings are stilled viewed as a mysterious topic, as evidenced by the prevalence of old wives’ tales. One of the most popular old wives’ tales says that if you are craving sweet foods, you are having a girl. And if you are craving salty, sour, or spicy foods, then you are having a boy. However, these tales are usually not true.
3. In the case of women who has experienced morning sickness, they may crave foods that alleviate the nausea.
It is possible for a pregnant woman to experience vomiting and food cravings at the same time. In this case, it is common for women to prefer foods that alleviate morning sickness. For example, eating acidic foods like citrus fruits and salty foods like crackers are great way to relieve nausea.
4. Craving for inedible stuff is called “pica.”
Unfortunately, not all cravings are safe. Some women crave inedible food like dirt, coal, raw flour, and even cigarette butts. Called “pica,” the urge to eat these substances are often linked to anemia or particularly iron deficiency. Pica is also more common among women who were underweight before getting pregnant.
5. Skipping meals may make cravings more intense.
While it may seem like cravings are intensely uncontrollable, you can actually do something to manage it. One of the most effective things you can do is to eat often. Skipping meals make cravings worse, but if you eat – healthy – from time to time, cravings can be manageable.
6. Each kind of craving may represent a specific nutrient deficiency.
Common cravings typically belong to these groups: salt, dairy, sweet, and fat. According to Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist, salt cravings are connected to a magnesium deficiency. Dairy cravings may be caused by a calcium deficiency. Sweet is for carbohydrate deficiency, and fat is for essential fatty acid deficiency.
7. Food cravings begin during the first trimester but intensify during the second trimester.
The good news is that during the first trimester, when you are riddled with a lot of big changes, food cravings are not usually an issue. It does begin during that point, but the cravings don’t typically intensify until the second trimester. Then they gradually go away during the final trimester.
8. Food aversion often accompanies food cravings.
Ironically, you may be experiencing intense food cravings at the same time as intense food aversion. During pregnancy, you may experience craving foods that you did not like before. Conversely, you may also find yourself repulsed by foods used to be your favorites.
9. Emotional cravings can happen, too.
While some cravings can be explained by nutritional deficiencies, most are actually emotional cravings. A lot of the commonly craved foods are what we call comfort foods and junk foods, and many pregnant women get away with eating these foods. By justifying these urges and calling them “pregnancy cravings,” it is easy to fall into the trap of unhealthy eating.
10. After craving a particular food, you may discover that you don’t even want to eat it.
One of the funniest things about pregnancy cravings is that you will often end up not eating the food you craved. Many pregnant women share that after intensely craving a particular food, for example a banana, once it’s given to them, they immediately lose interest.
There are a lot of theories and explanations surrounding pregnancy cravings. It is the 21st century, but this topic is still considered mysterious. The best way to prepare yourself for this new experience is to know the facts, know what’s healthy from unhealthy, and understand the real needs of your body.