WHAT ARE FOOD CRAVINGS DURING PREGNANCY?
The sudden urge for a particular (and particularly unusual) dish. Almost all expectant mothers (and some fathers) experience cravings during pregnancy.
WHAT ARE FOOD AVERSIONS DURING PREGNANCY?
Most pregnant women experience at least one food aversion or a new sense of repulsion at the very thought of a food they previously enjoyed.
WHAT CAUSES THEM?
Pregnancy hormones play a role, especially early in pregnancy when your body is positively flooded with them — and still getting used to them. But there may also be 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. Yes, 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.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
You can’t always fight this symptom, so just try to respond to cravings and aversions with reason. Keep in mind that most disappear or lessen by the fourth month — if yours don’t, that may be an indication of an emotional need you should address. Talk to your partner: If what you really crave is some more TLC, he should be able to help out with extra hugs and attention.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT FOOD CRAVINGS:
- Try to avoid going crazy with pregnancy cravings that do nothing for you nutritionally — even while you indulge them. For example, go for a mini chocolate bar instead of a king-sized, or a glass of low-fat chocolate milk rather than a tray of brownies.
- When cravings strike, head for the hills (or another distracting place). Take a walk or go to the gym. Even reading a book or calling a friend for a chat may take your mind off that glazed doughnut that’s calling your name.
- Give in to your cravings once in a while (though not for alcohol) — then eat well for the rest of the day.
- Call your practitioner if you crave weird substances such as clay, ashes, or laundry starch. This craving, known as pica, may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, particularly of iron.