Food cravings are familiar when a woman is expecting. During her first and second trimester, she might have a craving for bagels covered in chocolate or pickles covered in processed cheese. The strange cravings are nothing to be scared about unless she is craving something unhealthy.
While there is a theory about why a pregnant woman craves certain foods, nobody really knows why it happens. One theory is that a woman craves foods based on the vitamins or minerals she’s lacking in her diet. If she has a craving for steak and potato chips, she might be lacking protein, sodium or potassium in her diet. With a craving for chocolate covered bagels, she might need calcium from the chocolate and carbohydrates from the bagels. Our taste buds are what translates the needs of the body into an actual food. While the body might want sodium, the taste buds are translating that to mean chips or pickles.
Food aversions might happen during pregnancy as well. The pregnant woman’s heightened sense of smell and taste can touch off a food aversion if the smell of something makes her nauseous. It happens in the first trimester when she’s most likely to have morning sickness and nausea. This can be tough if she has a food aversion to meat or vegetables since those are important for a growing fetus. She’ll have to get her nutrients in other forms like protein through nuts and vegetable sources.
Pregnancy food cravings are nothing to be alarmed about unless they replace actual nutrition. A pregnant woman cannot replace her diet with cravings without consequences for the baby. While she might want to eat nothing but pickles and chocolate, she has to have a balanced diet for her health as well as her growing baby.
There’s one craving that might have detrimental consequences to the baby as well as the mom. Some women crave non-food items like dirt, starch or paper. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, pica is seen in children more than adults except for pregnant women. It can be caused by a lack of iron or zinc in the body. Pica can have serious health consequences especially with dirt eating. Dirt has lead, which can cause lead poisoning for the mother as well as birth defects in the baby.
When a pregnant woman consumes too many craving foods, she runs the risk of gaining weight with empty calories. She could gain too much weight, which can cause serious problems like preeclampsia. It’s a condition that causes a rise in blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. It used to be called toxemia, and it can cause swelling in the feet, hands and legs. Preeclampsia can lead to serious health conditions that are life threatening.
Pregnant women have to watch their diet. They can certainly indulge in a strange craving occasionally, but they should balance that with healthy food choices at all other times throughout their pregnancy. If she can figure out the essence of the craving, she might be able to find a healthy alternative. Instead of chips for a potassium craving, she could have a banana.