Culinary eccentricities are the main theme of jokes about pregnant women. New moms are surprised to remember how they enjoyed pairing capers with ice cream.
Biologists and geneticists have not come to a consensus about the occurrence of food addictions in pregnant women. Some believe that in this way the woman’s body requires the missing substances. Others are sure that the changes are associated solely with the protective reaction of the psyche to hormonal changes.
“It is completely natural to have wierd food craving.”
Often, the desires of pregnant women are associated with products where specific vitamins or elements are concentrated. On the other hand, if the future mother wanted a tangerine, she is unlikely to agree to a kiwi.
At What Pregnancy Stage Do Cravings Start?
So how early do pregnancy cravings start? The period from the 1st to the 13th week of pregnancy is the “risk zone” for changes in eating behavior. In the first trimester, a woman’s body is going through a titanic transformation. Internal transformations are reflected even in the most established eating habits.
1-2 weeks – The period when the sperm and egg only create a spark of new life and the body is dynamically preparing for possible gestation. During this period, increased appetite or its absence is very likely. It all depends on whether there are the first signs of toxicosis.
3-4 weeks – The term for the formation of disparate cells into a single whole – the embryo. During this period, HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) begins to be actively produced. Here, food addictions are associated with the desire to get rid of sudden weakness.
5-9 weeks – The period when the embryo rapidly turns into a fetus. The child acquires a clearer outline, nervous system, and brain, and his heart begins to beat. During this period, the appearance of food addictions is most often observed. Women become especially sensitive to smells and tastes. Because of this, some products seem disgusting, or beautiful.
9-13 weeks – The time when you can do the first ultrasound. During this period, the placenta appears. Many pregnant women are increasingly beginning to want to support themselves with something tasty. Even if the choice of products or combinations seems strange to others.
What Woman Usually Want to Eat?
The eating habits of pregnant women are not always a surprise. Often women simply allow themselves more of what they have always liked. Most often this applies to chocolate and other sweets. This preference confirms the theory about the psychological origins of the phenomenon.
Foods high in sugar create the illusion of support, soothing and uplifting. During the experiment from Pergamon, it turned out that pregnant women more often chose white chocolate and not sweets with a concentration of useful elements from cocoa beans.
Despite the variety, uncharacteristic food addictions can be divided into several groups:
Salty – Pickled vegetables, dried fish, and meat, adding too much salt to main dishes.
Spicy – Food with spices and even chili peppers.
Certain types of fruit/vegetable – Most often it is citrus or greens.
Unexpected flavor combinations – Like cottage cheese with herring or lard with chocolate.
Inedible products – Some women have strange cravings during pregnancy. For example, the desire to eat earth, whitewash, or even insects. In such cases, you should consult a doctor.
What causes pregnancy Cravings?
Changes in eating behavior during pregnancy occur due to a whole range of factors.
Biological factor – During the first trimester, hormonal and physiological changes occur very quickly and in different directions. Being a “reasonable mechanism”, a woman’s body keeps track of what elements are missing and requires their replenishment. The most natural way is to get them through food.
For example, an addiction to salt may be due to the production of progesterone. This hormone lowers blood pressure, which can lead to weakness and dizziness. Thanks to pickled cucumbers and increased fluid intake, the balance is restored.
Psychological factor – Pregnancy brings not only joyful expectations but also stress. The expectant mother loses the ability to lead a normal life and look attractive. She may be tormented by thoughts about her health and financial situation. In this case, a woman can simply “seize stress.” Unusual products in this case are an additional attraction of attention.
Social factor – In most countries of the world, a pregnant woman, due to her position, receives a high status. It is customary to treat her whims with understanding and respect. Food cravings take the form of privileges: the opportunity to try something new or finally enjoy your favorite dishes.
The latter factor is especially characteristic of the Eastern countries, but elements of it are also found in the Western world.
Does Every Woman Have Cravings?
According to statistics, only a third of pregnant women show persistent symptoms of changes in eating behavior. In others, they appear sporadically, 15% of the lucky ones do not experience such changes at all. Usually, cravings for unusual foods disappear by the beginning or middle of the second trimester.
Modern researchers believe that it is possible to reduce the risk with a balanced diet and an active social life.
Women who followed a reasonable diet before pregnancy are much less likely to become victims of food cravings. Cravings for unusual foods are significantly lower in those who work until the last stages of pregnancy. Eating behavior is positively influenced by communication with like-minded people and physical activity.
Do not worry too much if healthy foods, such as greens or meat, become the object of desire. Especially if this craving is episodic and does not cause discomfort. Even if we are talking about chocolate or cakes, you can sometimes treat yourself to them.
What can You do to Avoid Pregnancy Cravings?
You need to realize that whims can become a problem for the health of the baby. It is important to understand the causes of changes in eating behavior. It is necessary to separate the psychological factors from the physiological ones and solve them separately.
The most effective steps to identify biological causes will be a consultation with a doctor and tests. Vitamins and rosehip broth can be an excellent substitute for eating cucumbers at night straight from the jar. Seeing a specialist can help you avoid the side effects of cravings, such as heartburn and indigestion.
It may turn out that food cravings are the result of a lack of support and security. In this case, it is worth talking with your loved ones. Finding solutions together can be a panacea in itself. Seeing a psychologist will also be good prevention against emerging depression.
During pregnancy, doctors recommend listening to your body. However, isolation from the outside world can lead to increased anxiety. Hanging out with friends, walking, and hobbies help reduce stress and food addiction.
Do Cravings Cause Weight Gain?
Excessive absorption of flour, salty and sweet provides extra pounds in any position. Such products negatively affect the functioning of the heart, kidneys, liver, and blood vessels. Pregnancy is an additional reason to avoid them. Carrying a child is a fairly strong burden on the body.
More and more scientists are concluding that the need to “eat for two” is a myth. In 2012, a BMJ meta-study was conducted on nutritional balance in pregnant women. The results showed that women who stick to the diet gain 3.4 kg less.
In this regard, special nutritionists for pregnant women are becoming increasingly popular. These specialists develop an individual nutrition program, taking into account the recommendations of doctors. Common to all such diets is the principle of 2000 + 200.
The formula stands for 2000 standard calories + 200 for a child. This rule is observed in most cases but should be monitored by a doctor.