Don’t worry, you’re not alone with your weird and wonderful food cravings. A surprisingly large percentage of mums-to-be crave one food stuff or another during pregnancy.
While some women are lucky enough to crave healthy foods like tomatoes and oranges, unfortunately some women crave carbohydrates, sugars and sweet things which obviously can result in undue weight gain.
Cravings are thought to be due to the rising hormone levels and some women experience craving for this same reason during the second half of their menstrual cycle!
There’s really nothing you can do about it. Give in to your desires if you are lucky enough to crave a fruit or vegetable, but try to resist if you know your craving really isn’t doing you any favours!
A change or alteration in taste is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Even before the first period is missed, mums-to-be can notice a strange taste in their mouth or a different taste appreciation of certain foods.
The classic taste is metallic. It’s often persistent, quite strong and unfortunately often lasts throughout the pregnancy. Other women notice that their tastes change and that whereas previously they had maybe enjoyed coffee or spicy foods, they now taste vile. Changes in taste are not the same as cravings but can be equally strange.
Oral infections, such as gingivitis, can also cause an unpleasant taste in the mouth and dental hygiene is very important for this reason – and many other reasons.
A craving for a food you would not normally eat is called pica. These cravings are usually associated with materials containing iron and used to be very frequent in the past. There are many stories of women eating soil and coal which can obviously be interpreted as a subconscious desire to obtain iron.
True cases of pica today are rare and the condition can be treated by supplements to correct any anaemia or vitamin deficiency.
An appetite for abnormal items like metal (coins, etc) clay, coal, soil, chalk, paper, soap, or ash, or an abnormal appetite for some things like raw food ingredients (e.g., flour, raw potato, raw rice, starch, ice cubes, salt) is considered pica if the craving persists for more than one month.
If you think you have pica see your doctor and he can advise on or mineral supplements to your diet. The name pica comes from the Latin name for a magpie – a bird with indiscriminate omnivorous eating habits!
Food cravings can affect everyone at times and many mums-to-be are subject to them intermittently throughout pregnancy.
Some pregnancy website forums are packed with examples of cravings such as pickles and ice cream, cream cheese with ketchup, string cheese and strawberries and even rice with brown sugar, barbecue sauce, and butter.
The creator of that last winning combination said: “I thought it was soooo good and my husband looked at me like I was crazy. Now I would get sick if I ate that.”
Another mum said: “Tinned spaghetti sauce laced with about four tablespoons of sugar. I think it’s got something to do with the sugar cutting the acid in the tomatoes, but it’s been delectable to me on my pasta.”
Another bemused mum added: “Onions and mustard. I don’t even like onions, but I would crave chopped onions drenched in mustard.”
WHY ARE WE CRAVING?
Nobody can give a definitive answer on this, but most medics and nutritionists agree that pregnancy cravings are basically evolutionary and the reason for a bizarre craving is because there’s something deficient in a woman’s system.
So if you are craving onions with mustard it may be the vitamins in the onions your body is demanding, but the mustard is to make it more acceptable taste wise.
In other words, your body is sending signals of what it needs, and your brain/taste buds might spin that into something that you naturally find tasty. If you are getting a totally balanced diet you probably won’t have any strong cravings at all.
Other food experts say cravings are simply an excuse! For example, you want a chocolate bar because you WANT a chocolate bar. When not pregnant you may have grabbed an apple and ignored the unhealthy desire for a quick sugar fix, or even totally denied the fact that you wanted one. But now you’re pregnant you feel it is your right to indulge in a chocolate bar whenever you want!
In other words it’s a variation on the old “eating for two” routine with a mum-to-be assuming the right to indulge herself.
In truth there has never been a better or more important time in a woman’s life to eat healthy food and watch her weight to make sure she gains the right amount of weight from the right foods.