Most women will experience food cravings at some point during pregnancy. In fact, as many as half of all women will crave some type of cuisine or unusual food product. The most popular cravings include sweet and salty foods, while other women report craving spicy or fatty foods.
Causes of Food Cravings During Pregnancy
There are many reasons why women experience food cravings during pregnancy. Perhaps the simplest explanation is your body is working twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. to grow a healthy baby. Some cravings are simply the result of your body's needs for additional calories during pregnancy.
Hormones play a role, especially early in pregnancy when your body is positively flooded with them — and still getting used to them. So there is some truth to the notion that you crave what your body needs and are repulsed by what's not good for you. This theory works with items such as coffee and alcohol, which can suddenly turn off regular drinkers of both. But it doesn't explain why you might suddenly turn your nose up at healthy foods you used to love, such as salad or oatmeal.
One theory is that humans have moved so far from the original food chain that the body can no longer reliably interpret its own internal signals. Your body knows it needs vitamin C and calcium, but these days that may translate into a craving for a dish of Chunky Monkey with crushed Oreos, instead of a slice of cantaloupe and a glass of milk.
Other cravings may signal nutritional deficiencies. Some women for example, even vegetarians, might experience unusual cravings for steak and red meat during pregnancy. This could simply be a sign that their bodies need more iron to help support their growing baby. Many women will crave food they loath or wouldn't dream of touching when not pregnant.
It is completely natural to give into your cravings once in a while (though not for alcohol) — then eat well for the rest of the day. If aversions are limiting your food intake, look for substitutes for the healthy foods you can't stomach right now.
If you crave weird substances such as clay, ashes, or laundry starch, call your practitioner immediately. This craving, known as pica, may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, particularly of iron.