Ice Cream, Pickles and Chocolate: Pregnancy Cravings

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Oh, pregnancy cravings. The insatiable longing for often times unusual combinations of foods that you would never otherwise have dreamed of eating. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Seventy-five to 90 percent of pregnant women have food cravings during pregnancy, but these cravings usually disappear in the beginning of the fourth month.

Despite how common pregnancy cravings are, there is not a good explanation for where cravings come from. Some medical professionals think that food cravings during pregnancy are caused by hormonal changes that occur in the body. Others believe it is the body’s way of saying that you might be deficient in a certain vitamin. For example, if you crave fruit, your body might need more Vitamin C, or if you crave ice cream, your body may need more calcium. However, food cravings for a particular food may not be a reliable way to detect a vitamin or mineral deficiency. If we really craved what our body needed, wouldn’t we all be eating a lot more leafy greens and less sugar?

We surveyed moms in our community and found that many pregnant women did have the classic cravings for ice cream, pickles, cheese, and chocolate, but it really ran the gamut! In the graphic below, the bigger the word, the more common the craving was per our survey.

icecreampickles

As the graphic shows, the most commonly mentioned craving was for ice cream but expecting moms in our survey craved everything from Cheetos dipped in spicy ranch, to sardines, pickled eggs, and raw potatoes (no, not all at the same time).
Finding ways to appease overwhelming food cravings can be challenging for expecting moms; however, a healthy nutritional balance can certainly be maintained.

Indulge with moderation: Pay attention to your portion sizes when you do indulge in your cravings.  Grab a fun-size candy bar before you go for the king-size one. And try to keep yourself from indulging in unhealthy cravings on a regular basis. If you really must have that Big Mac, set a limit on how many times you can have one over a period of time, which will help you avoid over indulging.

Try to decipher what your cravings mean and find better substitutes for less healthy cravings: Cravings for cheese or milk products could be your body’s way of suggesting that you need more calcium. Try to incorporate the nutrient your body is craving in a healthier way. If you’re craving ice cream, try substituting it with frozen yogurt. Or if you’re craving something sweet, try reaching for a piece of fruit before you dive into your chocolate stash. This technique may not always eliminate your cravings for unhealthy foods, but hopefully you’ll fill up more on healthy foods so that you have less room for indulgences.

Keep a well-balanced diet: By eating a regular, well-balanced diet and one or two healthy snacks during the day, you may avoid a drop in your blood sugar which can set off unhealthy cravings.

Indulge in other stimuli: Don’t let food be your go-to-comfort during your pregnancy.  Try getting out of the house for a walk or call up a friend on the phone to take your mind off your cravings. The ebbs and flows of emotions that occur during pregnancy may be causing you to turn towards food, when all you’re really craving for is a big, warm hug and some emotional support!

While some pregnancy cravings may seem a bit odd, in most circumstances they don’t represent any real threat to the mom or baby. However, some women develop a particular condition called “pica”, which is relatively rare. This condition leads women to crave or unusual substances, such as the desire to eat clay, soil, or ice, which may suggest an underlying iron deficiency. If you have symptoms of pica, you should consult a medical professional.

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Kwany Lui is the co-founder of Bundle Organics, a new line of organic prenatal juices that are pasteurized and specially designed to address the unique nutritional needs of expecting and new moms.  The juices are packed with organic fruits and veggies, plus an extra bump of essential vitamins like iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3, and folic acid to support a baby’s healthy development.  Learn more at www.bundleorganics.com.

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