Pregnancy Cravings And How To Deal With Them
- Cravings during pregnancy can strike any woman at any given time of their pregnancy
- Raging hormones, nutritional deficiencies, and cultural, social, and psychological factors have been narrowed down to a few of the reasons behind cravings
- Unwanted weight gain, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia are some of the conditions that you are at risk of developing if you keep giving in to your cravings
- Cravings can be managed by good dietary practices and some substitutions in your snacking list
What are pregnancy cravings? Pregnancy cravings are the early signs of pregnancy, apart from that a missed period. Ever woken up in the middle of the night hankering for some takeout? Well, then you know the kind of cravings we are talking about. It is not uncommon for women to get cravings during their pregnancy. Research suggests that nearly 2 in 5 pregnant women have some sort of food craving during their pregnancy.
After knowing how common pregnancy cravings are, you might find yourself asking the question why do these cravings happen? The short answer is, that no one knows!
There is no clarity, at the moment, as to why such cravings occur; however, experts and researchers have listed a few possible reasons. Read on to find out more!
Why do pregnancy cravings take place?
1. Hormones haywire
It is not news that your hormone levels continuously surge and drop throughout your pregnancy to facilitate the proper growth and nourishment of your child. Studies revealed that this fluctuation is most likely linked to those cravings.
Evidence has shown that fluctuating levels of hormones mess with your senses. An altered taste sensitivity and smell perception is seen in the majority of pregnant women. This is the probably cause of your changed appetite and aversion to certain foods.
2. Nutritional deficiency
Pickles for pregnancy or sour foods during pregnancy have little nutritional value. Your nutrition during pregnancy needs to be well balanced and adequate for the proper growth and development of your little one. Experts speculate that pregnancy cravings are your body's cries to load up on some nutritious food!
Although there is no concrete evidence to back this reason, it is still believed that cravings during pregnancy are in response to the increased caloric burden on your body.
3. Social and cultural cues
Where you live and the people you hang out with have a greater impact on your eating habits and your diet. The cultural norms about diet and pregnancy in the regions where you grew up indirectly influence the quantity and type of foods you crave during pregnancy.
As an example, if you grew up in a neighborhood that consumed calorie-dense foods regularly and believed that it is okay for pregnant women to gorge on them, then it is more likely that you will develop cravings for such energy-dense foods during your pregnancy!
As mentioned earlier, no one can pinpoint the exact cause of your pregnancy. There is some logic and truth behind the ones that are described in this article. However, one thing is for certain-If you often give in to your cravings and ignore your nutrition, then you are bound to put your health at risk!
Most women crave something sweet or sour or savory during their pregnancy. Regardless of the flavor, most of these foods that pregnant women crave are high in calories but low in nutrition. Frequently snacking on such junk food leads to unhealthy weight and unwanted pregnancy complications Here are a few negative effects of frequently submitting to your cravings!
Unhealthy weight gain
Giving in to those cravings and temptations once in a while is okay. However, if you constantly gorge on junk foods, this will cause you to put on a few kilos. This weight gain is unhealthy and can invite further pregnancy complications.
Here's a list of things that unwanted weight gain puts you at risk of:
- Delivery complications
Unhealthy and unwanted weight gain during pregnancy is often associated with women having babies larger. This can lead to delivery complications like tears and postpartum hemorrhage, or you might have to opt for alternative modes of delivery like C sections.
- Childhood obesity
Unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy often leads to childhood obesity! This can harm your child's physical and mental well-being.
- Gestational diabetes
Gaining excess weight during your pregnancy puts you at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes!
A complication that affects the health of the baby and the mother. Preeclampsia is a medical condition that causes blood pressure fluctuations during pregnancy and can lead to organ damage. A high number on the scale can put you at risk of this life-threatening condition!
Disrupted sleep cycle
Recent research has revealed that women who often binge eat by giving in to cravings are more likely to have poor quality and quantity of sleep. Poor sleep and inadequate rest predispose you and your baby's health to several negative outcomes.
Apart from this, a disturbed sleep cycle also hampers the proper growth and development of your child.
A troubled mind
Did you know? Binge eating and gorging on your food cravings have been linked to several mental health concerns. Recent research has revealed that women who frequently acted upon their cravings have more frequent and severe depressive symptoms.
Furthermore, this habit has also been linked to increased stress during pregnancy. They say a troubled mind is equal to a troubled body. All the stress and mental health issues due to such habits will take a toll on your health.
We hope that the article, so far, has shed sufficient light on the negative effects of letting your cravings take control of your eating habits. Countless studies have shown that binge eating, compromised physical health, and poor mental health goes hand-in-hand. Let us break this vicious cycle right here!
Managing cravings 101:
how to control cravings during pregnancy
We agree that not giving in to your cravings takes a lot of discipline and mental strength. Not all pregnant women can develop such a level of self-control. But fret not, there are a few psychological hacks you can try to satiate your cravings and keep up with your nutrition at the same time.
Keep reading to find out!
1. Get creative in the kitchen!
Are you someone who enjoys cooking? Then it is time to unleash your inner Masterchef! Here are a few healthy yet tasty dishes that are guaranteed to satiate any cravings. So put on your hat and apron and let us get started!
- Fresh fruit yogurt parfait
Craving sweet food during pregnancy? Pregnancy sugar control foods can help. Some pregnant women crave something sweet or some form of dairy! It's time to kill two birds with one stone! All you need is some hung curd, freshly cut fruits, and nuts of your liking. Add all three ingredients to a cup and enjoy this probiotic and micronutrient-rich treat!
- Egg fried rice with a twist
Hankering for something savory? Try this egg-fried rice with a twist! Replace white rice with brown rice for a more nutrient-packed meal. In addition to this, the eggs and veggies in this dish will ensure that you get an insufficient amount of proteins, vitamins, and minerals
- Chicken soup for the soul
Nothing hits the spot like a nice hot bowl of soup! Soups are always good choices for pregnancy cravings. Being low in calories and easy to prepare, they help satiate your cravings quickly! A chicken soup is a good way to get in some protein which is essential for the proper development of your child and watch your calorie intake!
2. Keep that water bottle handy
A good way to keep your cravings under control is by drinking plenty of water. Adequate intake of water will keep your stomach full and reduce your urge to snack on food.
Drinking at least 8 cups of water daily during pregnancy not only helps reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings but also helps in the proper growth and development of the baby! So try taking small sips of water frequently to keep cravings at bay.
3. The key is balance!
As mentioned above, cravings can be a result of anything from nutritional deficiencies to hormonal fluctuations. Make sure to give yourself the fuel you need!
The easiest way to ensure this is by using the plate proportion trick. Here's what one looks like!
- Carbohydrates: Fill up at least 1/4th of your plate with complex carbohydrates like brown rice or whole-grain pieces of bread.
- Proteins: Fill up to 1/4th of your plate with proteins. You can use lean meats, cottage cheese, or any plant-based protein like soya.
- Micronutrients, fiber, and other elements: Fill up at least half of your plate with veggies and fruits like spinach, broccoli, apples, or grapes that are high in micronutrients like vitamin B, iron, and fiber.
So have a well-balanced diet to keep cravings at a minimum!
4. Meal size and frequency
We have all heard the quote 'Empty vessels make more noise'. Similarly, an empty stomach can potentially increase the severity and frequency of your cravings. Try having smaller portions of food at more frequent intervals.
As a guide, use a 9-inch plate for your meals, and instead of having three big meals throughout the day have 5-6 smaller meals. This will keep your stomach full throughout the day and will not leave you feeling bloated and acidic. Plus, this will also reduce instances of hunger and cravings.
5. Play the substitution game!
Almost all women crave something sweet or savory during pregnancy and their go-to foods are ice creams, brownies, or pizzas. However, as we've described above, it can cause harm to your's as well as your baby's health. Substitute these foods with some healthy snacks!
6. Nuts and seeds the crunchy duo
In the mood for something savory? Ditch the chips and fries! Instead, munch on health with nuts and seeds. Dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and seeds like pumpkin, flax, or muskmelon seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other trace elements.
Snacking on these will make you feel satiated for a longer duration of time and will help negate any cravings for salty or sour foods!
7. Finger vegetables for the win!
Just like fun, health also comes in all sizes. Finger veggies are great ways to satiate those sour food cravings while getting in those much-needed nutrients. Try including carrots, beets, and cucumbers in your snacking list for a surge in vitamin intake
8. Cereal with prunes!
Stomach burning for something sweet that you can almost taste? Try having a bowl of cereal with some milk and prunes. A wholesome bowl that will not only satisfy your cravings but will also enrich your body with nutrients. Here's how it helps!
- Cereals are a good source of complex carbohydrates which provide you with energy. Also, cereals are fortified with iron which will aid in the proper development of your child.
- The milk here is a good source of calcium, protein, and probiotics, all necessary for pregnancy health and wellness.
- The prunes are a good source of fiber and help in intestinal motility and also reduce the risk of nausea or morning sickness
So have a bowl of cereal with prunes or any other fruit if you have got a hankering for something sweet.
9. Make dark chocolate your friend!
Another alternative to those sweet cravings is dark chocolate. Being safe, tasty, and beneficial in moderate quantities, dark chocolate is a viable alternative to choose whenever you feel yourself reaching for that ice cream tub!
Dark chocolate is widely popular due to its benefits in controlling blood pressure, and cholesterol and reducing the risk of getting cardiovascular diseases! Furthermore, a recent study has revealed that moderate consumption of chocolate reduces the risk of preeclampsia
So the next time you crave sweets, indulge in some dark chocolate!
We have learned about what are pregnancy cravings. Common cravings during pregnancy
can strike any woman at any given time of their pregnancy. And no one can pinpoint the reason behind them. Although some experts have hypothesized that several factors, separately or in tandem, can influence the onset, frequency, or severity of these cravings.
Raging hormones, nutritional deficiencies, and cultural, social, and psychological factors have been narrowed down to a few of the reasons behind cravings. However, the reason behind these cravings is not the problem, management of these cravings is the greater issue at hand!
Unwanted weight gain, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia are some of the conditions that you are at risk of developing if you keep giving in to your cravings. The silver lining is that cravings are the early signs of pregnancy but can be managed by the good dietary practices mentioned above and some substitutions in your snacking list.
Did you like our Article?
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Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
Aug, 01 2023