FOOD CRAVINGS DURING PREGNANCY
What foods do pregnant women crave for?
Food cravings during pregnancy is quite common and need to be dealt by all pregnant women. In India pregnant women mostly crave for sour things like tamarind or lemon. A lot of women crave for sweet foods.
According to some folklore, a woman who craves to eat sweet things will have a baby girl; and a woman who longs to eat salty things or has some other tastes, is likely to have a baby boy. Whether this is true or not—the fact is that pregnant women do have some strange food cravings.
According to some statistics:
40% prefer sweet things
40% prefer salty spicy things
20% prefer sour things.
It is difficult to vouch for the accuracy of these statistics—but we can in general analyze the kind of food cravings pregnant women have.
What causes these cravings?
The body is working round the clock to grow a healthy baby so it demands additional calories.
Extreme hormonal changes that pregnant women go through can have a huge impact on smell and taste.
The Doctors of alternative medicine consider that a shortage of magnesium can trigger a craving for chocolates. Foods that contain magnesium include beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts and green vegetables such as spinach.
A lot of pregnant women need more essential fatty acids in the diet. When they start taking flax oil or fish oil, their food cravings gradually disappear.
Some cravings may signal nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes, even vegetarians crave for meat. This could simply mean that their bodies need more iron to help support their growing babies. Many women will crave food that they would normally hate.
Very rarely, women have a condition called ‘pica’—which means they are deficient in iron. They crave for very bad things like dirt or other undesirable substances (not that any of these have iron in them).
No matter how strong your desire is, there are certain foods which invite health risks for pregnant women and their babies. The foods include:
- Raw and under cooked seafood, meat and eggs.
- Unpasteurized milk and foods made from it.
- Raw vegetable sprouts including radish.
- Herbal teas.
It is possible to have food cravings and still provide your baby with the nutrients that he/she needs to grow. However, giving in too often to high calorie foods may result in excess weight gain which thereby increases the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure levels.
How to handle food cravings?
Eat a balanced diet including lean sources of milk, protein and milk products, fruits, whole grains, vegetables and pulses.
Sometimes a small portion of unhealthy food is fine to eat.
Eat regularly to avoid drops in blood sugar levels that could trigger cravings.
Take your mind off food by engaging it in other activities. Indulge yourself in regular physical activity.
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