Written on 14 August 2018
Pickles, ice cream and what not. During pregnancy, you’re likely to find new taste turn-on & turn-off almost every day. Food cravings are likely to occur during the end of the first trimester and can intensify during the second trimester.
The most common cravings as per NCBI include the following:
Sweets such candy and chocolate
Carbohydrates and high calorie dishes such as chips and pizza
Animal protein i.e chicken and steak
Dairy - sour cream and cheese
What causes food craving and aversions during pregnancy?
There are several factors which can result in turn-ons and turn-offs during this period, they are as follows:
1) Fluctuating hormonal levels: Increased hormone levels do play a role; however, more empirical evidence is required to support this view. Pregnancy may alter the sensory perception, due to secretion of hormones as constituted by evidence of cravings for food which was disliked earlier.
2) Response to nutritional deficits: Cravings can be the result of deficiency in certain nutrients in the body. During pregnancy, the fatal demands can double the requirement of nutrients and proper nutrition is critical for healthy fetal development.
The guidelines for pregnancy highlight the importance of sufficient intake of micro-nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin A and zinc. It is speculated that food cravings work to prevent or alleviate such nutritional deficits. Such cravings encourage the mother to consume food to get additional energy.
3) Connection between nausea and food aversion: Pregnant women may identify a connection between food aversion and vomiting & nausea, which may appear as a mechanism related with avoidance of specific food items during pregnancy. The avoided food may work as a stimulus, while nausea may be the reaction. Such food aversions may serve the function of protecting the mother and the fetus from any food-related illness.
4) Cultural and Psycho-social factors: Culture is known to be a powerful factor which impacts the eating behaviour and craving. For example, Women in the US may crave chocolates, while rice is the most commonly craved food among Japanese women. Research suggests, that efforts to avoid foods may cause conflicting feelings which may ultimately lead to increased likelihood of craving. It can result in vicious cycle of binge eating.
While you may give in to your cravings once a while, try to look for healthier alternatives you can opt for right now.
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