Don’t be surprised if you suddenly have a strong urge for foods you do not normally eat during your pregnancy period of nine months. It is quite a normal occurrence that you wake up around the middle of the night looking for certain food in the fridge that even a few bites will satisfy your urge. Hello, your pregnancy food cravings are started to kick in!
If you feel somehow your pregnancy food cravings may become one of the causes of your drastic weight gain, here are a few tips about pregnancy food cravings that can prevent you from overeating non-nutritious foods and excessive weight gain.
About Pregnancy Food Cravings
Food cravings are strong feelings or urge for food which is hard to resist. Food cravings during pregnancy are a normal phenomenon. According to a study, an estimated 50-90% of US women experience cravings for certain foods during pregnancy. No one knows exactly why cravings occur during pregnancy but experts believe that it is a signal of our body lacking certain nutrients and cravings are the way that asking what it needs. Some said your taste bud has become more sensitive or having a strong “metal” taste due to hormone change, it can be one of the causes for cravings for combinations of different flavor foods – sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter food.
Food cravings are not harmful if your cravings for certain food are in moderation and if you feel guilty about eating them, there are always healthy substitutes. On the other hand, if you crave non-nutritious foods without control, you may end up lacking important nutrients for your body and your growing baby.
When do food cravings start?
Usually, you will notice you have a strong urge for certain foods during the end of the first trimester and throughout your second trimester. When you reach the third trimester, your urge for these foods will start to go away.
Type of foods you commonly craved for?
Well, according to Nutritious & clinical associations of food cravings for pregnancy study, the most commonly craved foods are
- Sweet food such as chocolate, sweet, ice cream and deserts (35%)
- Fruit and fruit juices (13%)
- Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese and cream (8%)
- Protein source foods such as meat, poultry and fish (8%)
- Carbohydrates such as rice, bread, cereal, pasta (7%)
- Others foods such as salty snack, pickled foods, fast foods, spicy food (<7%)
- Vegetables and salad (4%)
Interestingly, only less than 10% of women crave vegetables and fruits. A higher percentage of sweet foods preference has triggered issues of concern. When you only eat foods you craved for and ignore the nutritious food, it may lead to nutrient deficiency issues in the mother and your growing baby.
Eat-in moderation, controlling the intake, and finding healthy substitutions are ways to overcome this. Here is a simple guide to help you find healthy options:
|Foods you craved for||Healthy choices|
|1. Ice cream and cake||Non-fat yogurt, sorbet, homemade banana cake with brown sugar|
|2. Potatoes chips||Low salt, low-fat homemade chips, popcorn|
|3. Sugar-coated cereal||Wholemeal bread or oatmeal with lots of fruits|
|4. Packed fruit juices, canned fruits, or dried fruits||Fresh fruits, plain yogurt, water with fruits slices|
|5. Luncheon meat or bacon||Cook meat with moderate seasoning, boiled eggs|
|6. Coke or soda||Water with some fresh lemon pieces|
|7. Sour pickled||Plain yogurt with fresh-cut fruits like berries and kiwi|
|8. Donuts with chocolate topping||Whole-grain bagel with fresh fruits jam|
Here are smart tips to prevent you from overeating non-nutritious foods,
- Do not skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast may make cravings worse.
- Do some exercise, to burn some calorie
- Get emotional support to avoid emotional eating.
- Eat less and more frequent, to avoid overeating.
- Regular check on our blood sugar level to avoid gestational diabetes and blood pressure to avoid hypertension
Is pregnancy food cravings harmful?
Some women crave nonfood items, such as dirt, soil, coal, soap, and the smell of gasoline. It will be another story. It can be harmful or dangerous to both the mother and the growing baby that you need to consult your doctor. This condition is called pica – an eating disorder that can be happened in pregnancy. According to American Pregnancy Association, pica-related cravings are less common in pregnant women and the reason for these cravings is still unknown.
According Journal of the American Dietetic Association, pica-related cravings may be related to your deficiency in iron content in your body. Your body attempts to obtain the essential vitamins and nutrients that are missing from the diet. Well, do not worry! Always consult your doctor if you have the sign of pica cravings and get the appropriate tests to find out whether you are anemic or lacking certain important nutrients that your body needs.
In general, cravings for junk foods will cause no harm if you eat them in moderation. Just bear in mind, foods that are high in sodium, sugar, fat, and chemicals will lead to excess weight gain, gestational diabetes, and other health problem which will harm your growing baby.
Food aversion versus food cravings. Any difference?
Food aversion is an opposite of food cravings. It is also a normal phenomenon that happened in pregnancy. It is a sudden feeling of hatred towards foods that you normally like. Experts believe it is due to hormonal changes and it is mainly related to your morning sickness. There are studies to confirm the relationship between food aversion and nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It is a reaction of your body when it detects potential harmful elements in the foods.
Always find other food substitutes and make sure you have enough essential nutrients for your body and your growing baby. For example, if you hate the smell of the meat, look for another protein source such as nuts and beans. If you experience great food aversion that already started to affect your healthy balanced diet, please seek for doctor’s advice immediately.
Pregnancy food cravings are not harmful if you take them in moderation. Find out all the possible healthy alternatives and diversify your choice of foods to make sure you are still having nutritious meals every day during your 9 months pregnancy. Safe and healthy eating habits will ensure your safe pregnancy journey.
Share with us your experience with pregnancy food cravings. What kind of strange food have you ever craved during your pregnancy? Let us know at the comment box below.