Truth Behind A Pregnant Womans Food Craving and How to Control It
Cravings are feelings desiring food combinations which women either do not normally eat or may even stomach under usual eating conditions. In a survey conducted recently, expectant mothers usually crave for "something sweet" like an ice cream (40%), most often called the "middle-of-the-night" urges. Coming in second is the salty snacks (33%). They also go for spicy foods (17%) and lastly, the lip-puckering sour foods like tarts and citrus fruits (10%).
While no scientific explanations could be given, some reasons offered by physicians include:
• strong hormonal changes;
• deficiency of nutrients;
• a conscious or subconscious response to emotion;
• food with special meaning, religion and cultural reasons;
• maybe nutritionally based; and,
• expectations about getting cravings.
On the other hand, food aversion is the opposite of cravings. These are the most hated foods by the expectant mother. Reports state that red meat is the most common aversion of would be mothers.
Expectant mothers need all the nutrients in the right amount to stay healthy and to help their babies develop and grow normally. Cravings may help would-be moms achieve this by desiring nutritious food over those with excessive calories which they sometimes fill their bodies with. Most pregnant women also have a strong yearning for chocolates that stimulates the release of "feel good" brain chemicals in the body. This sometimes helps pregnant women to feel better and manage their moods even for only a short period of time.
Most popular cravings are: apples, melon, cheese, eggs, milk, olives and pickles, peanut butter and nuts
Experts break down the food cravings of women into trimesters during the pregnancy:
First Trimester – a strong bitter taste; this may be a signal of the body that warns the expectant mother of the presence of high toxic substances in plants and fruits.
Second and Third Trimesters – a craving for sour tasting foods like pickles (this helps women to get a varied diet later on in her pregnancy); urges for sweet and sour foods make fruits a popular craving for pregnant women.
As the pregnancy progresses – an increased preference for salty foods like potato chips; as the blood volume increases in the body of a pregnant woman her need for sodium also intensifies.
Unusual cravings are called the "pica" phenomenon. These are cravings for inedible substances such as dirt, chalk, laundry powder and coal, etc. Pica is the Latin name for Magpie, a bird that eats almost anything.
Pica is said to be a sign of an underlying physical or mental illness. If you develop a craving like this, resist it and award yourself with an ice cream, a bar of chocolate or a piece of cake. Remind yourself that the craving will pass and not to stress yourself about it. You shall not give in because this would mean mental problems for the child, impaired hearing and low motor skills development.
During pregnancy, theres no harm in giving in to food urges but, just dont make it a habit that will endanger you and your child.
Here are some healthy fixes that you can substitute your sinful cravings with:
Ice cream – opt for a nice cold fruit smoothie, non-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet/sorbet or popsicle;
Cola/Soda – flavored seltzer, mineral water with fruit juice or lime juice;
Doughnuts and pastries – whole-grain bagels or toasted bread with jam;
Potato chips – low-fat or baked chips, pretzels or light microwave popcorn;
Chocolate – have a few squares only, chocolate milk, fat-free hot cocoa or make some trial mix with a small handful of chocolate chips, dried fruits and nuts; and,
Cakes and cookies – low-fat banana-nut or zucchini bread or try an Angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries, Graham crackers with a little peanut butter.
Suggestions to control your cravings:
Cravings lose their intensity while the pregnancy progresses. But here are some ways to help you manage your food yearnings:
1. Eat breakfast everyday to lessen the intensity of your cravings.
2. Understand your cravings to help find healthier substitutes for your food urges. Try to take time breaking your cravings down: What are you longing for: something cold, smooth, creamy, and sweet? This will aid you in identifying more nutritional substitutes.
3. Keep a food diary and review whether youre eating a balanced diet or not.
4. Work out to help you curb hunger.
5. Have lots of emotional support from loved ones.
6. Think small in terms of the amount of intake.
7. Always consult your doctor.
While pregnant, keep in mind that this is no time for dieting but a time to experiment with foods and make eating fun as it should be. Have assortment in your foods, balance your diet well, and make eating fun, not weird.
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Elysiana Canlas 2005. For up to date links and information about Pregnancy, please go to: PregnancyClue.com