Here we explain why you crave certain foods during pregnancy, from pickled onions and crisps to chocolate and ice cream...
There are two main reasons why we reach for the pickle jar during pregnancy. Firstly, tastebuds can often be suppressed during pregnancy, and the strong acidic combination and pungent taste of vinegar and onions gets tired tastebuds tingling. Secondly, individually onions and vinegar both have stimulating properties, so put together; they can really give you a zing. Vinegar was used in ancient medicine to clear congested airways and onions have fat-busting and cholesterol-reducing properties to help keep arteries clear.
But this does not mean the more the merrier. Intake should be restricted, as too much acidity can be very damaging to cells and digestive functions, resulting in muscle, joint and abdominal pain. It can also affect the absorption of nutrients and overstimulate metabolism.
Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food! It is high in fast-release energy but it also releases feel-good brain chemicals similar to those released when we are in love or during sex.
There is nothing wrong with the odd indulgence but if you are craving it all the time, it could mean you are a bit under the weather.
Action and diversion is called for. Address your concerns but also relieve your mind with a little diversion. Make adult time to spend with your partner – you can talk, watch a feel-good film, whatever…but make sure it’s not baby orientated. Phoning a friend or getting out into the fresh air has a similar mood-boosting effect, so give yourself a break and find a reason to laugh a little.
“Ice cream is the ultimate comfort food – we crave it emotionally because it has past comfort associations,” says nutritional advisor Liz Tucker. “Ice cream’s appeal is also because it’s an energy quick fix, high in fat and sugar. Not always what we need!”
Ice cream in moderation does have nutritional benefits – it’s particularly high in calcium. For those suffering indigestion or bloating, ice cream is a great way to digesting more fibrous or acidic foods such as fruit. The basic components of ice cream dictate its healthiness. Highly processed and refined ice creams are usually high in fat and sugar, so go for organic, natural makes that contain real fruit.
Go for yoghurt with fresh fruit or home-made rice pudding. If you’re craving because energy levels are low, take time out to relax, just 5 minutes deep breathing should relieve the craving.
“Craving crisps may show that your energy levels are low, as they are high in fat and a fast-release source of energy,” says Liz.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional packet of crisps, if eaten around a balanced diet. But be aware that the effects of a snack like this are always short lived, and it won’t help your energy levels in the long run. Too much salt and fat in the diet is not good for your health in the long run.
“A much better alternative is to snack on nuts, seeds, oat cakes or vegetable sticks with some hummous, to satisfy that ‘savoury’ craving. Wash it down with a couple of glasses of water and wait a few minutes to see if you really do fancy those crisps!”
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