Why do we develop cravings when we're pregnant, and should we feed them?
From coal to pickles and ice cream, food cravings are surprisingly common during pregnancy.
It’s not really known why pregnant women crave certain foods, but it ’s common for mums-to-be to find that food that they usually like tastes different, or that things they’d never eat are now palatable.
“Nobody knows what causes cravings, but changing hormone levels, especially oestrogen, are suspected. Social and psychological factors are also key – in some cultures, pregnant women don’t get cravings,” says Dr Rana Conway, nutritionist.
Unless you’re excessively eating one kind of food or not following a varied diet, cravings are harmless. This is, of course, if you’re just craving food: some people develop overwhelming desires to eat things such as toothpaste, clay or charcoal. This condition is known as pica, and it’s important to see your GP if you think you might be suffering from this.
Never consume any non-food product, as it could harm you and your baby.
As well as talking to your GP, try a substitute like sugarless gum to take your mind off the craving.
This is common, and could be your body’s way of telling you that you need more iron.
Occasionally, women crave chalk or another non-food substance and this can be a sign of iron deficiency. But on the whole, cravings aren’t a problem. So, enjoy a gherkin sandwich or juicy orange, it’ll probably never taste so good again!
Dr Rana Conway, nutritionist
"For the first time since I was a child, I just had to have honey on toast for breakfast every day! I’m not sure if it was a serious craving or just that the idea popped into my head and didn’t leave until I had my baby, but I just loved it. It had to be the set honey, and not fancy stuff, just good old English blossom honey!
"One of the great things about it, which I noticed on days when we’d run out and I had to have cereal instead, was that it seemed just the right combination of carbs etc to get me through the morning, which was great because I wasn’t tempted to have a croissant on the way to the office."
Amanda, 37, mum to Max, 5
“I really was put off food for the first few weeks of my pregnancy. When I got to about week 16, I was out for a curry and after that I couldn’t get enough spicy food! I think the last trimester my husband, Dave, was a bit worried that it might put me into labour too early so he usually ordered milder foods, but I loved it, the hotter the better!”
Samantha, 31, mum to Joe, 18 months
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