Pregnacny Food Cravings

October 13, 2008

The Phenomenon of Pregnancy Food Cravings

An interesting and often inexplicable phenomenon of pregnancy is food craving. It's true that when a women becomes pregnant (after she's over being sick for weeks on end), her tastes in food seem to change. Suddenly, foods that were never appealing are in demand and other foods that were favorites remain on the plate. The "what" and "why" of it all still remains largely a mystery.

The Pregnancy Cravings Are Real

In a survey taken of pregnant women, and those who had recently had a baby, concerning their food cravings during pregnancy, it was discovered that the desire for something sweet was about equal with the desire for savory or salty foods. Spicy cuisine followed with citrus fruits being the last significant taste craving.

It seems that craving certain tastes are just part and parcel of pregnancy. But, not all of the taste fancies can be catalogued or for that matter, stomached. While pickles and ice cream don't seem to be high on the list, such things as ice cubes and steak fat, Cheese Whiz and chocolate are frequently requested. Ice cream by the gallon and black olives by the jar are not uncommon cravings.

It's Just Pregnancy Hormones, Right?

It's easy to blame the entire business on hormones since hormonal changes are rampant in a pregnant woman, changing and impacting both taste and smell. Menopausal women - who also experience intense hormonal upset - also seem to experience high impact upon their olfactory senses as well. Ronald Chez, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida notes that pregnancy has a consistently similar effect on every woman's body, whereas food cravings are inconsistent and vary from person to person. "No one really understands what causes cravings," says Dr. Chez. "No absolute cause has been scientifically established."

There Must Be Some Reason for Pregnancy Cravings

So then, what do these cravings mean? Nutritionists have a name for some of the more bizarre cravings such as laundry starch, cigarette butts and ice - it is a condition called pica - and these cravings have been linked to iron deficiency. It is believed that a shortage of B vitamins can trigger a craving for chocolate and the addition of flax seed oil seems to eliminate some food cravings as it satisfies the need for EFAs in the diet.

Red meat is a clear signal for protein and gorging on peaches and carrots could be a need for carotene. But, the fact remains that if people craved what their bodies really needed, then we'd be eating a lot more green foods and a lot less processed.

Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

At the end of the day (or in the middle of the night), the experts say it's okay to give in to the cravings, just indulge the healthy ones and try to be creative about upgrading the unhealthy ones. Sometimes, with the constant fluctuation of emotions a woman will turn to food when all she really wants or needs is some TLC.

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