Food Cravings During Pregnancy

Mar 10, 2009
Many pregnant women find themselves wanting particular or unusual food that they do not usually eat. More than 80 percent of all pregnant women have food cravings. According to American Dietic Association the most common food women crave during pregnancy are chocolate, pickles, chips, ice cream and citrus fruits. Why do you have pregnancy cravings and should you indulge in your cravings or stop yourself from eating this food?

Why do you have food cravings during pregnancy?

Food cravings mean an urge for unusual or tasty food that you can hardly resist. Often people crave food that is not quite healthy, like high fat or high sugary food. Women describe cravings as a feeling that you cannot live without a bar of chocolate or that particular pizza. They can wake up at night to eat something that is out of season or unavailable.
Currently, scientists suppose that food cravings during pregnancy can be caused by several reasons:

Hormonal fluctuations

Many specialists think that food cravings during pregnancy are caused by hormonal changes. It is known that cravings for salty or sweet food also occur in premenstrual period. During pregnancy hormonal fluctuations affect woman's sense of smell and taste, which may explain why many pregnant women have particular food cravings.

Comfort eating

During pregnancy many women experience mood swings due to a wide variety of changes in their bodies. It is common for pregnant woman to feel depressed, fearful or worried about their body changes during pregnancy and their future baby. Stress makes you reach for food to provide energy to fight off the negative feelings. In this case, food often becomes a source of comfort that is associated with the feelings of happiness.

Nutrients deficiency

Another theory is that pregnant women crave food because they need certain nutrients. For example, women craving ice-cream are believed to lack calcium. Interesting enough, during the first trimester of pregnancy many women have a strong dislike of bitter taste. Scientists explain this by the fact that bitter food is associated with toxins and pregnant women instinctively avoid food that can harm their developing fetus. Basically, pregnancy is a period when a woman is at increased demand of nutrients and food cravings may prompt your nutrients deficiencies. If you are craving salty food, your body may be in need for sodium or if you are craving a beaf steak, then you might think of increasing your iron supply.

Should you indulge in your food cravings during pregnancy?

Generally, you may give in to your cravings as long as you do not overindulge or crave something that can be dangerous to you or your baby's health. It is important to eat varied and healthy food to meet the nutrients demand during pregnancy. Usually, food cravings appear at an early stage of pregnancy and subside during the second trimester, but they may also change throughout all pregnancy stages. Also note that you should not substitute food, like pizza for vegetables and fruits and other healthy food.
Indulging to much in your food cravings may lead to some health problems. For example, overeating sweet food may lead to excessive weight gain during pregnancy, which increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

How to control your food cravings during pregnancy?

  • Try to eat healthy substitutes for food that you know has low nutritional value. You can, for example, choose fruits instead of sugary food, like pastries or cookies.

  • If you feel that you urge for certain food is hard to control, indulge a little bit, but do not overdo. Sometimes, it is enough to satisfy your cravings by having a bite of that desired food.

  • Eat frequently to prevent the drop in blood sugar, which may help you diminish your cravings. Do not skip breakfast or limit your diet to certain food group. You should include a wide variety of foods to provide the amount of calories and nutrients to support your health and your developing baby.