Here’s why you’re having these odd food cravings when you’re pregnant
Statistics show that between 60% to 80% of pregnant women report having highly specific food cravings. How does pregnancy change your appetite, and what might your various food cravings mean? In this article, we explore all that, and more!
When it comes to pregnancy cravings, there’s a certain pattern that we’re seeing. According to scientists from the University of Connecticut, pregnant women taste certain flavors more intensely (and either like or dislike them!) based on the trimester they’re currently in.
For example, pregnant women in their first trimester are more likely to find bitter flavours particularly offensive. One school of thought? Women’s tastebuds are evolved to be particularly sensitive to bitter foods early on in their pregnancies so that they would steer clear of strong-tasting plants or spoiled foods (these are more likely to contain toxins that could hurt an unborn baby).
As you progress into your second or third trimester, with your baby having formed (or nearly formed!) their critical organs, pregnant women tend to be less averse to bitter foods. At this point, many moms reintroduce coffee and spicy foods into their diet; they also start eating more salty foods (which, similarly, doesn’t affect their tastebuds as strongly as it might’ve done in their first trimester).
Interested to find out what your specific cravings mean? Researchers are quick to note that there hasn’t been a study which conclusively shows that craving certain foods mean that you have some sort of deficiency in the vitamins and minerals these foods contain. That having been said, many nutritionists do recommend that you pay attention to your cravings and try and tweak your diet accordingly so that you’re getting in all the important nutrients that your body (and your growing baby!) needs…
Food cravings – chocolate:
Alternative medicine practitioners are of the opinion that cravings for chocolate are triggered by a shortage of magnesium. Try adding more whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables to your diet – these contain plenty of magnesium, and should scratch your itch. If you’re still craving chocolate after supplementing your diet with these magnesium-rich foods, it’s fine to indulge in some. Just make sure you’re having dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and eat in moderation!
Food cravings – milk:
This one is fairly obvious – if you have an overwhelming urge to guzzle cartons of milk, your body isn’t getting enough calcium. You can fall back on calcium supplements, but some argue that your body absorbs calcium better from natural sources – so go ahead and consume more almonds, chia seeds, and other calcium-rich foods.
Food cravings – salty foods:
Never liked potato chips before, but can’t seem to stop snacking on them now that you’re pregnant? This might mean that you don’t have enough sodium in your system. Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips, try satisfying your cravings with coconut water – this contains plenty of electrolytes, which will help you rebalance your salts.
Food cravings – red meat:
Nope, this doesn’t mean that you’re about to give birth to a baby vampire. If you can’t stop drooling over steak and other red meat, it’s likely that you’re not getting a sufficient amount of protein. You may beef up your diet (pun intended!) by having more meat with your meals; if you’d like to go down the plant-based protein route, start incorporating lentils, hemp seeds, and quinoa into your meals.
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