Pregnancy Cravings

Some pregnant women crave pickles...

Not all cravings in pregnancy are junk food.
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The thoughts of pregnancy and cravings tend to go hand in hand. The mere mention of pickles and ice cream brings to mind a gloriously pregnant woman with her feet propped up munching on deliciously salty pickles while also scarfing down some equally delectable ice cream.

While many pregnant women will never even begin to desire something as stereotypical as ice cream and pickles, many do have cravings during pregnancy.

Some studies show that up to 68% of women will have a craving at some point during pregnancy. Most of these cravings actually peak by the second trimester and fade as you get closer to term. 

Cravings can mean different things to different people. It might be the simple, "Gee that smells really good, I'd like to eat some." While others are downright driven to find whatever they crave.
We tend to think that if our body is craving it that it must be something we need for our health. This may have some basis in truth, particularly depending on what we are craving. If we're cravings fruits and vegetables, chances are we aren't too concerned about the desires. Though we probably are equally unconcerned about the desire to eat a chocolate malt after every meal.

Good Cravings Gone Bad

Cravings can border on the harmful side if they begin to alter your diets variety severely or if you crave, harmful, non-food substances like clay, laundry starch or other items.

This condition is called pica.

Psychologically speaking, part of our cravings may simply be that we believe pregnant women should eat certain things. Or sometimes it's survival, as in I can't keep anything else down!

The Problem with Pregnancy Cravings

One of the biggest issues that is a potential problem with pregnancy cravings would be the potential for additional weight gain.

We are not talking about the typical pregnancy weight gain caused from a growing baby, but the intake of excess calories, compared to what you need. This does not mean that you should never give in to pregnancy cravings. Nor does it mean that you should eat everything you want, ever. It simply means that there is a bit of caution you should use, and I'll call it common sense. 

Craving grapes is a vastly different craving than say, chocolate milk shakes.  It does not mean that you can't ever have a chocolate milkshake, but it does mean you should use some common sense. A milkshake once a week is a treat, a milkshake every night is a problem. You can see why having grapes every night would not be the same issue. The truth is, there are many different ways to tackle pregnancy cravings. Finding out which coping strategy works best for you will be the best thing you can do for yourself as you negotiate pregnancy.

The Bottom Line

Watch what you're craving, be sure your diet is balanced. Eating a variety every week is one way to do this as opposed to eating the same meals over and over.

Keep a food journal if necessary to help keep track of your meals. Be sure to discuss any problems with your nutrition with your doctor or midwife. Try not to worry about an occasional craving or snack. 

You might also be interested in: Harmful Pregnancy Cravings

Sources:

Kapadia MZ, Gaston A, Van Blyderveen S, Schmidt L, Beyene J, McDonald H, McDonald SD. Psychological antecedents of excess gestational weight gain: a systematic review. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015 May 2;15:107. doi: 10.1186/s12884-015-0535-y.

Mills, ME. Craving more than food: the implications of pica in pregnancy. Nurs Womens Health. 2007 Jun; 11(3):266-73.

Orloff NC, Flammer A, Hartnett J, Liquorman S, Samelson R, Hormes JM. Food cravings in pregnancy: Preliminary evidence for a role in excess gestational weight gain. ​ Appetite. 2016 May 20;105:259-265. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.040.

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