What Pregnancy Cravings Mean
Pregnancy cravings (and aversions) are real.
What else is real is the fact that our society has deemed pregnancy a culturally accepted and sanctioned period of time in which women are even encouraged to give in to their cravings!
Just as cravings are a telling sign that the body is lacking something during all other stages of life, they are also revealing during pregnancy.
Yes, many women crave strange food combinations, leading to giggles and odd snacks, but the body is not intentionally sending funny messages. The body is asking to be fed the right nutrients. You know you need to be taking a high quality prenatal vitamin, possibly other supplements to meet your body’s needs as well; but what you don’t realize that the body still may be begging you for something else.
In the moment, a double decker hamburger slathered in bbq sauce and a fried egg with a side of cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake may be what you are hearing, but there is an underlying message. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to give in to a craving. Just understand that the body desires something more than those fudge brownies you baked last night.
Studies are showing that pregnancy cravings leaning to the salty side do not increase the risk of gestational diabetes, but those falling into the sweet category not only increase the risk of gestational diabetes, but also increase the chances of excess weight gain and obesity with the mother and baby. source and source
Note: Don’t forget to eat organic for best nutritional benefits.
What your body really wants is Magnesium.
Aside from the effect it has on the chemistry of the brain, chocolate also contains magnesium, a mineral that is vital to several functions of the body, including relaxing blood vessels and providing us with energy.
Meet the craving: Have a serving of dark chocolate. It has the magnesium your body is asking for, without the added sugar in milk chocolate. Let’s face it, nothing satisfies a chocolate craving but chocolate, you just have to demand a better grade of chocolate. Options for sources of magnesium are nuts and seeds, many types of legumes, and some fruits like bananas and avocados. You may also meet the craving by taking a nice bath with magnesium flakes, or even a foot soak with magnesium. A magnesium lotion or oil can be used topically to help the body meet its magnesium needs as well.
What your body really wants is Glucose.
Your body does need some glucose to make it through the day and keep your blood sugar levels where they should be, and abstaining from all forms of sugar may not be a sustainable goal. Please be sure that along with your glucose you are getting quality vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well.
Meet the craving: Use fruits as your source of sweet. They contain fructose as well as glucose and will provide you with antioxidants and other nutrients that make them a satisfying snack. Sugary carbohydrate cravings, like donuts or cookies, are a sure sign that you need a little pick-me-up. Close your eyes and let your mind wander or exercise (go for an energizing walk) instead of reaching for the sugar.
What your body really wants is Amino Acids.
Your body needs some help in the amino acid department, as it can’t make the essential amino acids it needs on its own.
Meet the craving: Try getting your amino acids from nuts, fish, and eggs. Also, a serving of quinoa, which contains a complete set of all essential amino acids, as well as a full serving of fiber, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals!
What your body really wants is Sodium.
Your body needs sodium, but you’ll want to make sure that it comes from the right sources, not from table salt or the industrial-grade salt they use in snacks. This form of salt leads to fluid retention, which can increase your overall body weight as well as your blood pressure. source
Meet the craving: Go with Himalayan pink salt or sea salt as natural sources of sodium that will actually help your body by regulating your fluids, rather than hinder it the way excessive table salt can.
It’s not coffee that is bad, it is the caffeine and sugar it contains that is driving your craving. What your body really wants is Energy.
The problem with getting your energy from a stimulant like caffeine is eventually it wears out, and often leaves you feeling more depleted than before you consumed it. What your body needs, what it craves, is real energy from natural sources.
Meet the craving: Try a green smoothie!
What your body really wants is Healthy Fat.
It’s time to bring back the healthy fat that actually helps you feel full.
Meet the craving: Be sure you’re getting a supply of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Great sources are avocados, which also provide minerals and fiber, as well as nuts like almonds and cashews.
What your body really wants is Protein (Iron!)
Protein is a key ingredient to a healthy pregnancy!
Meet the craving: Even though you may be craving fatty protein sources, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating high-quality, grass-fed, hormone-free, lean protein that’s preferably organic.
No Cravings, but a Loss in Appetite
If your appetite has gone away and you’re not craving anything at all, you might think that it’s because you’re totally satisfied. But it could be that you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to assess why you’re not in the mood for food anymore. This can happen while pregnant because of aversions or pregnancy in general, but if it is a sudden change, then consider the following.
What your body really wants is Zinc.
One mineral in particular that could be causing your lack of appetite is Zinc. This is an important mineral that affects your taste buds, and is one that your body needs daily.
Meet the (lack of) craving
Be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes to cover all of your nutritional bases. This should be done over a series of days, and you should see your appetite return to normal. If your lack of appetite is persistent check with your doctor to uncover potential causes.
A Proposed model of craving etiology.
“Craving is hypothesized to be due to competing approach-avoidance conflicts brought about by exposure to foods that are perceived as being simultaneously appealing (due to an innate preference for high-calorie, sweet, and fatty foods) and forbidden (due to cultural norms prescribing restrained intake and a thin figure). While most individuals are thought to attempt to resolve the resulting ambivalence in favor of abstinence (represented by the solid lines), pregnancy is hypothesized to be a culturally sanctioned permissive factor, allowing women to circumvent their usual conflicting response and efforts to restrict intake and indulge in foods that they would otherwise avoid, resulting in increased intake and heightened risk for weight gain specifically during pregnancy (represented by the dashed lines). “
Did you know that essential mineral needs could be producing your food cravings?
- Chromium has been linked to insulin action and glucose metabolism, helping to balance our blood sugar level. source
- Carbon is found in sweet fresh fruits but for some this only applies if they are naturally ripened. Fruits such as avocado, kiwi, banana, apple, mango, pear and papaya provide soluble carbon even when picked early. source
- Craving oily foods can be a sign of calcium deficiency and an imbalanced diet as well as a call for more foods rich in fatty acids. source
Don’t Let Labels Fool You!Studies now show that, in spite of their zero-calorie status, many artificial sweeteners actually cause weight GAIN because they stimulate your body to crave carbohydrates. But weight gain may be the least of your worries. Aspartame causes formaldehyde to build up in your brain, which results in all sorts of potentially serious medical problems to you and your baby, including:
|Frontal lobe inflammation||Visual disturbances||Migraines|
|A syndrome similar to multiple sclerosis||Seizures||Cognitive problems|
|Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia||Symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease||Symptoms similar to attention deficit disorder|