Pregnancy cravings uncovered!
Wednesday 15 April 2009
There are more pregnancies in the public eye than ever, not least from Closer favourite Coleen Rooney! But we’re glad that Coleen has been vocal about her cravings this week – it gives us all a chance to speculate about what makes women crave such odd things.
In a recent survey, almost 40% of pregnant women said they craved sweet foods the most during pregnancy. Salty foods were almost as popular, with 33% of mums-to-be favouring those. Spicy foods (17%) and sour food (10%) trailed on the list, but are evidently still worth shouting about.
So what can these cravings mean? We’ve found some possible reasons for them, as well as some healthy ways to tackle them.
When you’re pregnant, your hormones act very differently from their usual patterns, which can affect your sense of taste and smell. Just as you can be easily retch at the smell of pizza, you could jump at the chance to scoff an entire bowl of ice cream.
There is also some speculation that cravings can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, but scientists say that this is mostly unfounded – the foods you crave are most likely to be ones that your body ‘likes’ – ones that won’t aggravate pregnancy-related ailments such as nausea and heartburn.
A study of cravings published in "The Complete First Year Planner" by Annabel Karmel (£16.99 Ebury Press) recorded the foods that pregnant women craved on a daily basis:
1. Ice cream/lollies/ice pops (23%)
2. Chocolate (17%)
3. Crisps (15%)
4. Cheese (11%)
5. Pork pies (9%
6. Fish pie (7%)
7. Chinese takeaway (6%)
8. Baked potatoes (5%)
9. Cakes (4%)
10. Pickles/chutneys (3%)
While these aren’t exactly crazy, they’re all very specific tastes. Since a lot of these can contain too much of the bad stuff (sugar, salt, saturated fat – all the tasty things), we’ve come up with a few alternatives to keep you healthy and happy.
Cravings for sugary foods are probably the most obvious – what with morning sickness, low moods and health problems, you’re likely to be feeling a bit run down! Subseqeuntly, you'll be craving foods that'll give you a quick boost: simple carbohydrates like sweets, chocolate or white bread.
Protein-rich foods (like eggs, dairy and meat) can help banish sweet cravings; they keep you fuller for longer, which can be great if you're battling long periods of nausea and can't stomach a lot of food. If you really need a sugar fix, though, go for fruit first – frozen berries can be great if you’re craving ice cream, and exotic fruit like dried mango can be a good substitute for jelly sweets. If all you can think about is chocolate, go for the dark variety – it contains antioxidants that can boost the immune system, and there’s less sugar.
Cravings for salt are quite obvious – usually, your body is crying out for some sodium. It can be a sign of stress – if you’re stressed out, your body will be producing more adrenaline, and the adrenal glands need minerals to function properly. Salt cravings can also be an indication of low blood pressure, which can be common in the early stages of pregnancy.
Plain rice with a tiny bit of soy sauce is a good option, as it’s a complex carbohydrate that’ll keep you fuller for longer. If you do go for crisps, try the lighter varieties that are lower in saturated fat and salt. As a rule, though, if you can see the grains of salt, there's too much on there!
Spicy food causes the body to release small amounts of endorphins (the same feel-good hormones you release when exercising), so maybe your hormones are making you feel a bit down.
Spicy food isn’t really bad for you – a vegetable curry, some chicken tikka or maybe a Mexican wrap with hot salsa aren't exactly weight-gain inducing. Just don’t overdo it; your digestive system might not forgive you!
Sour cravings could be linked to your digestive health, as they cause your mouth to produce a lot of saliva, which kick-starts digestion.
Lemons ranked third in a recent study of unusual cravings, so something with a sharp citrus flavour could be just the ticket. Before you reach for the Haribo SourMix, though, try lemon sorbet, which is made with fruit juice and has less than 100 calories per serving. Alternatively, a citrus-based fruit salad or a glass of fruit squash could work wonders for your cravings.
Sometimes, you just get the urge to eat anything and everything around you. This could be due to feeling down (thanks to yet more hormonal changes) or just feeling bored. Whatever your reasons, we can’t vouch enough for knowing the difference between genuine hunger and emotional hunger.
If you really need to consume something, try a hot or cold drink first. The temperature might distract your brain for a while, and ice has been a popular craving antidote among pregnant ladies for years – to the extent that, nowadays, ice lollies are the #1 odd craving among mums-to-be!
If there’s literally nothing else that’ll satisfy your craving, just go for it. Pregnancy is one time not to skimp on calories. In fact, you need an extra 300 calories a day to ensure a healthy baby.
The only way you could be harmed by a craving is if you’re only eating the food you crave – and therefore depriving your body of other nutrients.
What’s the strangest pregnancy craving you’ve ever had/heard about? What are your tips to beat them?
By Amy Bangs
Posted by racheal
RE: Pregnancy cravings uncovered!
my friend liked eating lemons when she was pregnant. when we were at college all she ate was lemons. i could smell them a mile off! lol
Posted 15/04/2009 12:33:27
Posted by janec
RE: Pregnancy cravings uncovered!
my mum ate cabbage when she was pregnant! Well seen I don't like it!
Posted 15/04/2009 15:44:46