Thinking of food cravings, I remember a colleague from my last job in a Logistics company. Each evening as the clock struck 5; he would start getting flustered and rush off. One fine day he revealed the reason to me in confidence. His ex-vegan wife was in her 1st trimester and was craving spicy nonvegetarian dishes. So each day, he left work at 6 PM and reached home at 7, to a hungry and thankful-looking woman at the door awaiting him. Food cravings during pregnancy are as crazy as Trump’s during the last US elections. They do not make sense.
In all seriousness, though, I chose to believe that food cravings had a reason. It could have been the body’s way of saying that it needs a specific food group. It could be a nutritional need of the body growing a human fetus inside of it. I, personally, did not have powerful cravings throughout my pregnancy.
But I met other expecting mothers during hospital visits who craved particular things. Eventually, I started panicking because I was not craving anything. I have had healthy eating habits since childhood. So my cravings went to the extent of yogurt with specific toppings from my fridge or Kheer.
However, a discussion with my doctor helped me understand things better and relax.
What Are Food Cravings? And What They Mean?
Food cravings during pregnancy are sudden urges that pregnant women get to eat a specific food. These cravings are known to be overpowering and abrupt. This food could be something as familiar as chocolate or something weird in combination. There are jokes about ice creams mixed with pickles doing the rounds.
They are honest and affect a lot of women during pregnancy. Some women crave non-food-related items, too, like mud, soil, and chalk, etc. The condition is called PICA which points towards a more complex problem where the woman is malnourished or needs more iron. In that case, it’s best to consult a doctor and take prerequisite measures immediately.
Why Do They Happen?
No one knows the real reason behind food cravings. As discussed earlier, it would make sense if food cravings were related to a specific nutritional deficiency in the woman’s food group. But surprisingly, there is no link between the two.
The opposite of food cravings is food repulsion. Many pregnant women complain of feeling repulsed from particular food that they previously loved. I can certify the genuineness of this phenomenon because I have faced it firsthand. I am a devoted nonvegetarian, and I couldn’t tolerate my neighbors cooking any meat. I remember asking my partner not to talk to me for 30 minutes after eating meat.
Now I think it could be related to the extreme hormonal changes that make things taste and smell different suddenly.
Is It Normal For Some Women Not To Have Any Cravings?
It is usual for certain women not to have any cravings at all. Hormonal changes make pregnant women undergo a drastic change in their normal palates. Interestingly, these changes will be different for different women. Different women handle their cravings differently based on their personal choices and circumstances.
Cravings impact your dietary intake and hence your nutritional intake too. So, it’s best to address your cravings only occasionally. Always prioritize keeping your immunity high and meeting all your dietary needs. The food intake affects the fetus’s growth, both when it’s within you and outside you.
I have heard of women who crave oily street food quite frequently. Most often than not, the food cravings are usually for unhealthy food with low nutritional value. It has a higher chance of leading to heartburn or acidity later in the day.
Secret Tip For Managing Food Cravings
A piece of advice that might work is, “Give it 30 minutes”. Once you get a craving, give it some time to settle and try to distract yourself. If you see that you still crave for it after some time has passed, go ahead and eat it without regrets.
When Do Food Cravings Occur?
Food cravings usually start in the first semester and intensify in the second semester. Things begin to fall into place by the third semester. However, it might not be the case with every woman. Some women also complain of food cravings and aversions even after delivering the child.
How To Manage Unhealthy Cravings?
Unfortunately, there has not been any scientific evidence that states the cravings’ effects in a definite light. It could do good for some women, while overindulgence could lead to weight gain and dental problems in some cases.
However, doctors around the world say it’s wise to listen to your body closely or attentively. Humor your cravings once in a while and stress on not missing out on your daily nutritional needs. Ignoring your cravings at all times will make you frustrated. Go easy on yourself; treat yourself once in a while. I had given that power to my partner during my pregnancy. He would decide on a random day of the week, and we would treat ourselves to some takeout dinner of my choice. Understand that your body and soul both need nutrition to grow that new life within you.
Some tricks that work when you are trying to avoid unhealthy cravings:
- Eat healthy, small, and fulfilling portions at regular intervals. It will ensure you aren’t desperately hungry at any given time.
- Keep healthy snacks stocked around in small jars, in multiple spots within your house. You are more likely to reach for them and not walk out looking for an unhealthy option.
- Do not go grocery shopping when you are craving; you will be more likely to give in.
- Distract yourself when your thoughts are shifting towards an unhealthy snack when you are full. Call a friend or read something instead.
- Prioritize the amount and the quality of sleep that you get. Sleep deprivation will make you irritated and more prone to grab that packet of chips lying in your pantry.
- Include a lot of fluids in your diet. It’s essential for expecting mothers to consume many fluids in teas, soups, and water consumption. Water helps in keeping up your amniotic fluids which help in keeping the fetus healthy.
Take as much rest and naps as is possible. Take it from a mother; this time is the peace before a thunderstorm; make the most of it. You won’t get much time after the child is delivered.
Common Foods That Most Women Crave
- Salty Foods
- Spicy and hot food items
- Foods high in calorie
- Weird combinations of food
- Citrusy and lemony food
- Unhealthy cravings
- Healthy and Clean cravings
Food Cravings During Pregnancy and Gender Prediction?
There is absolutely no logic or link between what kinds of food you crave and the gender of the child growing inside of you. However, there are old wives’ tales associated with food cravings during pregnancy. Sweet cravings are associated with having a girl child, while savory and salty cravings are associated with a boy child. None of the above are known to be backed by science or logic. However, these myths and old wives’ tales are exciting and keep an expecting mother guessing throughout the nine months.
Food cravings are among the many hurdles that an expecting mother has to come across during her motherhood journey. These small and significant hurdles prepare you for the rewarding yet challenging phase awaiting you in the future.