Cravings in pregnancy are extremely common and common, but what are the causes of food cravings in pregnant women? And above all, how can we reduce them?
Believe it or not, statistics say that three out of four pregnant women have cravings throughout their pregnancy, especially related to food. In fact, they tend to be fixed and clear cravings, which are not satisfied with some other food that – at any other time – could serve as a substitute.
They are part of the pregnancy and are absolutely normal. In fact, it is estimated that around 90% of women have a craving for at least one type of food during pregnancy. And such cravings are irreplaceable.
For example, if the pregnant woman wants a piece of chocolate, a cup of ice cream or even just a piece of fruit, she will feel the need for satisfaction and the desire will also become urgent, so that she will need to consume it and no other food will serve as a substitute.
On the other hand, as we indicated, in general, pregnancy cravings are presented as an urgent need for satisfaction, so it must be satisfied as quickly as possible. When this is achieved, it produces a special pleasure in the woman, but when it is not, the pregnant woman can become serious and angry.
But it may be the case that the craving is not about a certain specific food (such as a piece of cake or a fruit). It may happen that the craving is related to a mixture of bizarre food and that at other times it could terrify more than one, such as eating hot sauce by the spoonful or “enjoying” a plate of olives and sweet cheese cake.
What are the causes of cravings in pregnancy?
The truth is that experts are not entirely clear what are the causes that can influence or cause the appearance of the well-known cravings during pregnancy.
Most experts establish three related causes:
It is known to all that pregnancy is a real revolution in the woman’s body, especially in terms of hormonal changes. In this sense, many experts associate hormonal changes with the appearance of cravings, which apparently would be related to the changes that occur in the senses of taste and smell.
Thus, while a pregnant woman may experience a craving for a certain meal or food, she may also have a rejection for other dishes.
Some specialists attribute the appearance of cravings to the existence of nutritional deficits, so that depending on the deficit that exists, the craving will appear for one food or another.
For example, it is common for a vitamin B deficiency to cause women to feel like eating chocolate, the need for protein could be related to the desire to eat meat, the lack of antioxidants such as beta-carotene could influence the desire to eat carrots or peaches…
The same occurs with the need to consume fatty acids, and the increase in the desire to eat foods rich in natural oils (such as olive oil).
Possible psychological cause
From a psychological point of view, some experts consider that the increased need for affection and the feeling of anxiety that pregnancy generates tend to be the main causes that would cause the appearance of cravings.
For this reason, it is usually very common that the foods that most tend to crave are the least healthy foods, such as ice cream, sweets, gummies, cakes or traditional chocolate.
How Can We Reduce Pregnancy Cravings?
The cravings can become a serious problem when we try to maintain a healthy weight in terms of our physical build, height and physical activity, even if again we are following a diet. In the case, for example, of pregnancy, this can be equally negative for both your health and that of your baby if you opt for foods that are highly caloric, not very nutritious and healthy.
Although there is no doubt about the very important nutritional benefits that fruits and vegetables bring us, the truth is that every day it is common to feel the desire to sink your teeth into a bag of potato chips, a cake or a bun.
The result? Its high amount in empty calories, fat and therefore in calories, can negatively influence not only our own weight, but also our health, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity when then that excessive consumption of calories is not burned through of the practice of physical exercise.
Obviously, when we talk about cravings we also talk about snacking between meals, since when we cannot control our appetite it is quite common for our body to ask us to consume foods rich in simple carbohydrates.
If you are one of those who cannot resist a craving, especially when you have it right under your nose, you may – if you wish – need some tips to reduce cravings:
- Eat 5 times a day: if you eat several times a day, and avoid snacking between meals, you will ensure that when you get to the next meal you do not have a voracious hunger that would ultimately influence you to eat excessively. You can distribute your meals at breakfast, lunch, lunch, snack and dinner.
- Avoid having unhealthy products at home: if for example you are going to do the shopping, try to have more healthy foods in your pantry such as fresh fruit, and avoid buying pastries, cookies and chocolates. It will help you not to eat them, precisely because you will not have them at home.
- Eat slowly: it is essential to give your stomach the time it needs to process food, and send the brain the signals that we are already satiated. If you eat too fast, however, you will tend to overeat without realizing it, and then you will also feel heaviness and be more bloated.
- In case of craving do it yourself: only occasionally, if you cannot avoid a craving it is always more advisable to make the dessert yourself than to buy it, since you will know what ingredients you will use in the recipe (being very common that these are natural , and therefore much healthier).
- Reduce your anxiety and stress: did you know that when you feel anxiety or stress it is very common for you to use a good bun, cake or eat a lot of chocolates as a de-stressor? The reason we owe it above all to the release of ghrelin, a hormone released in the stomach that causes us a terrible desire to eat more.