Why do we actually crave?
It’s widely known that pregnant women have those strange food cravings. If you are expecting a child, you will understand this phenomenon. In pregnancy women have high levels of hormones and that affects the sense of taste and smell. This change can provoke desire and sometimes simultaneously food aversion for certain types of food.
Doctors say that no one really knows why pregnancy cravings occur, but they have some theories. The most famous theory says that woman craves those types of food that contains some nutrient that she may be lacking, and the craving is body’s way to show its needs. Through cravings body can ask for sodium, potassium, protein, calcium or fat, etc. When you eat some strange food combinations during the pregnancy (ex. potato with chocolate) the cause may be the need for something that is lacking in the body (potassium from potato), but chocolate is the food you can tolerate eating. Basically, your body is sending signals what it needs and your taste buds might spin that into something that you naturally find yummy.
Top pregnancy food cravings
Ice – pregnant women love to chew on ice. Those with anemia are more likely to have this craving because it can relieve inflammation of the mouth and tongue which is common symptom of anemia.
Chocolate – this sweet makes us happy, so that can be one of the reasons. On the other side, doctors are saying that craving for chocolate can represent lack of calcium or fat.
Spicy food – hot food makes the body sweat and that cools off the body. Pregnant women have difficulties to stay cool, so this helps them.
Pickles – there is a guessing that women who crave for pickles have a lack of sodium, but there is no real proof of that.
Fruit – women crave for fruit because it is a good boost of vitamin C which they need a lot.
Lemon – future mothers love to eat straight lemon or put a lot of it in the water. Like with spicy food it’s not unusual to also crave for sour food.
Sugary sweets – this craving can be a sign of gestational diabetes, but in most cases it’s just a sign of hormonal changes.
Ice cream – it’s not just sweet, it can cool you off too (like spicy food).
Red meat – it is full of protein and iron which is something that pregnant women need a lot.
Coffee – it makes you more alert and decreases headaches and depression. Doctors don’t recommend consumption of coffee during pregnancy so if you have this kind of craving please check with your doctor first.
What did pregnant women say about their weird cravings during gestation?
“Ketchup on everything. I don’t normally like ketchup.”
“My one and only really weird craving was pickle juice. I would drink it right out of the jar. Gross right? My husband always laughed when he saw a full jar of pickles with no juice.”
“One week I ate ONLY chicken quesadillas—Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.”
“Sometimes, I put pickles on Oreo cookies. You know those little round pickles for sandwiches? They’re the perfect size for an Oreo.”
“I’ve been dipping cheese in ketchup! So gross but so good.”
“Salt! I have been eating it by the spoonful.”
“Goldfish crackers dipped in strawberry ice cream. My husband had to hide the crackers because it was grossing him out!”
“Pickles in cream cheese wrapped with pepperoni.”
“I had a strange liking for mashed potato with caramel sauce.”
“My snack of choice was iceberg lettuce with sugar sprinkled on top.”
“Yesterday I had sausages with strawberry jam.”
This kind of cravings are very dangerous for the mother and especially for the baby. Non-food cravings are known as eating disorder called pica. Pica is characterized with persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value. During pregnancy women can crave, and eat, things like dirt, laundry starch, crayons or ice scraped from the freezer. Doctors say that these cravings can sometimes be a nutritional deficiency (e.g. need for iron), but this is not proved yet. Pica can be a huge risk for the baby. There are proofs that pica during the pregnancy can lead to infant and child developmental problems with low verbal IQ scores, damaged hearing and motor skill development. It can also increase risk of learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder.
In the next rows there are non-food cravings that women really had in pregnancy:
“I had a craving for sand and gravel. I live next to a beach. I couldn’t stop thinking about drinking sand. “
“I loved chewing sponges in all my three pregnancies, especially after the sponge had been washed with Dove soap.”
“I’ve been chewing toothbrushes while the toothpaste’s still on it.”
“I would seek out sand and cement, and sometimes wanted to lick the walls.”
So, if you have any kind of non-nutritive cravings you should call your doctor to ask how to overcome it. There is always a way to find some food replacement that can satisfy you. If you have weird, nutritive, cravings it’s not a problem but it is recommended that you think about what your body might actually need if you are craving that type of food. If you realize that your body wants fat you could find it in some healthy food.