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    Food Cravings

    Learn more about some weird cravings- PICA and how to deal with it? 

    Written on 14 August 2018

    Psychological Disorder Characterized by an Appetite (PICA) is a condition in which a pregnant woman gets strange cravings for non-food items. This medical term comes from the name of a bird known as Magpie (Pica Pica). It derives from the medieval Latin name of a bird that is known to eat almost everything (whether it’s food or not). Generally, food cravings during pregnancy occur because of fluctuations in hormones. However, if a woman experiences some weird cravings for non-food items, then it indicates the deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body. According to the experts, these unnatural cravings occur due to deficiency of iron in the pregnant woman. Some of the most common non-food items that a pregnant woman craves are as follows:

    • Paper

    • Nails

    • Hair

    • Sand/ Garden soil

    • Soap/Laundry detergent

    • Coal

    • Plaster of Paris

    • Clay

    • Feces

    • Plastic

    • Porcelain

    • Wood chips

    • Cigarette ashes

    • Glue

    • Paint

    • Chalk

    • Dirt

    • Burnt matches

    • Mothballs

    • Cornstarch

    • Baking Soda

    • Toothpaste

    • Coffee grounds

    • Fabric/Cloth

    • Ice chips

    When an expecting mother experiences an uncontrollable urge to eat something non-edible then she must immediately seek help from the doctor. Mindful eating is important for you and the unborn child during pregnancy. Consuming any of the above-mentioned non-food items during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to the mother as well as the child. It can lead to malnutrition and can hinder the process of nutrient absorption in your body. Most of the non-food items have toxic properties and can lead to various infections in the human body. It is essential to observe all the cravings that you get during the beautiful phase of pregnancy and understand what are the risks involved with them. Although there is no test to diagnose this condition still if anyone experiences this eating disorder then one should not panic. All you have to do is just be honest with your doctor as that will help him/her to diagnose it and treat it well. Your doctor might ask you to undergo a simple blood test to check the levels of Zinc and Iron in your body. PICA can be managed and here are a few important tips to deal with it:

    • No matter how embarrassing it seems, you must share your cravings and diet with your doctor. Being honest and upfront with your doctor who can help you more in this situation.

    • Your doctor might review your prenatal health records.

    • You must not hesitate to speak to your caregiver and loved ones as that will help you to fight with disorder easily.

    • Monitor your nutritional levels by keeping an eye on your daily requirement of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.

    • Along with a nutritionally balanced diet, you must take supplements but only after taking consent from your doctor.

    • Having an organized lifestyle helps you fight these disorders easily. Wake up early in the morning and spend some time in nature to relax your senses. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and regularize your sleeping pattern to stay healthy.

    • Distract your mind by watching your favorite movie, reading your favorite book, or talking your heart out with your soulmate.

    • Practice prenatal yoga under the supervision of a certified trainer and invest time in meditation as that will help in balancing your anxiety and stress levels.

    • After asking from your doctor, you can chew sugar-free candies or gum in moderation if required.

    • Seek out a counselor if you observe some behavioral changes in yourself or the condition of PICA is getting worse due to underlying psychological condition.

    Here are some interesting tips for managing unhealthy cravings during pregnancy:

    • Eat-in small portions and consume healthy meals.

    • Keep your pantry stocked with nuts, healthy snacks, and dried fruits to eat between meals.

    • Avoid consuming processed foods, junk foods, too oily and sugary foods.

    • Include healthy food items in your diet that have low GI (Glycemic Index) for instance- baked beans, seasonal fresh fruits, porridge, wholegrain bread, etc.

    • Don’t over-exert your body and try not to be sleep-deprived.

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