Are cravings normal during pregnancy? How can I combat them?
Updated: Mar 24
Lets talk about cravings. Many people think that cravings are something that need to be controlled, while others think they come from your body telling you important information.
We believe, especially during pregnancy, that cravings are connected to the latter option, otherwise called 'intuitive eating.'
Intuitive Eating is described as the body's innate capability of knowing what it needs. The principal idea is that your body can tell you what/when you need to eat if you listen to it. For some this sounds crazy, but when broken down, it makes sense.
Newborns present the perfect example. They have an innate sense of when they are hungry and when they are full. While breastfeeding, they show us when they are hungry and pull away from the breast when they are full. As babies, they will often make surprisingly good food choices and stop when they are full. It is only when outside influences set in (parents, siblings, TV, preschool workers, etc) that they begin to lose the ability to follow those intuitive signals.
If anyone has ever tried a diet, you know that the #1 thing craved is carbohydrates in a very simple form. Why is that? Because your body is HUNGRY! It needs energy and what is the quickest way for your body to get that? Though simple carbohydrates.
This is the reason that many diets do not work. You drive yourself to the point of food restriction that your body takes over and then feels the need to eat all the things you were deprived of. This ingestion of abundant simple carbohydrates causes you to gain back the weight you lost and then some.
So what can you do about your cravings during pregnancy? Well, since you are growing a baby, it is important that you have enough calories as well as vitamins and minerals...so listen to your body! If you are craving pickles maybe your body needs salt. If you are craving ham, maybe your body needs protein and thiamin. if you are craving donuts, maybe your body needs carbohydrates.
Try to pay attention to the type of cravings you have---satisfy them and then try to incorporate more foods that are similar. A.k.a if you are craving an In-N-Out burger and fries (paying homage to some of our California roots(; ), go get it for yourself and then begin adding more carbohydrates or protein to your meals. This could be toast and eggs at breakfast, sweet potato fries at lunch with garbanzo beans, rice and chicken at dinner. There are lots of options!
So what about the really weird cravings? Cravings such as dirt, chalk, soap, etc are another story. These cravings need a bit more precaution because we don't recommend women to go around eating these things. These cravings may actually indicate mineral deficiencies or even anemia and are very serious. For this instance, a trip to your doctor is recommended to test to see what is the underlying problem.
Want to learn more about these odd cravings? Make sure te to check out this helpful article HERE!
That's being said---making sure that you are taking your prenatal vitamins with minerals is a good way to prevent pica (an Iron deficiency that causes bizarre cravings) as well as eating a balanced diet.
For those of you experiencing cravings, Mamas Maternal Health would love to help you find ways to cope with your cravings and make the most of your body's signals! See our website to learn more.
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
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