Food Cravings: Do They Mean Anything?

Posted on Apr 5, 2012 | Blog Posts, Pregnancy Symptoms Category | | Print This Article

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Food cravings are often one of the earliest pregnancy symptoms experienced. Cravings range from fairly mundane (chocolate ice cream, anyone?) to bizarre (pickles and strawberry shakes…together) to downright dangerous (cigarette butts, laundry starch). What exactly is the purpose of our cravings? Do they mean anything?

If you ask a handful of experts, you’ll get a handful of answers. The truth is, no one knows for sure. Some health experts believe that certain health cravings are indicative of deficiencies in our diets. These include:

  • Cravings for ice, cigarette butts or laundry starch, which are linked to iron deficiency. This condition is known as pica.
  • Cravings for chocolate, which some experts believe is triggered by magnesium deficiency.
  • Cravings for steak, burger, or other red meat, which may show a protein deficiency.
  • Cravings for peaches, which may be caused by a lack of Beta Carotene.

Some nutritionists believe strongly in these connections. Actual evidence, however, is sketchy at best and generally anecdotal.

Most pregnant women experience cravings at some point in their pregnancies. Some women will crave only one type of food, while others will have multiple cravings over the course of their pregnancies. A recent study found that the most commonly craved items are:

  • Sweets, craved by about 40% of respondents
  • Salty foods, craved by about 33% of respondents
  • Spicy foods, craved by about 17% of respondents
  • Tart fruit, such as citrus or apples, craved by about 10% of respondents

Food cravings (and food aversions) are a normal part of a healthy pregnancy. As long as you aren’t craving anything dangerous, go ahead and indulge your body. Your body may, as some experts claim, be signaling a nutritional need. Even if it isn’t, no harm is done.

If you are craving nonfood items which could be dangerous to you and your baby if you were to eat them, make your doctor aware. As long as you have the self-control to say no to your urges, you’ll be fine. If you find the cravings so strong that you’re actually considering eating nonfood items, let someone know. One of the best ways to ensure that you don’t act on an unsafe craving is to have someone close to you who knows about the cravings.

What have you craved this pregnancy?



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