Ah, nausea, the bloating, the headaches, the strange cravings….these are all the wonderful little symptoms that remind women they are pregnant.
Not every woman will experience food cravings when they are pregnant but they can be awfully strange for those who do. Imagine having an urge to eat foods that you may not have even enjoyed before you were pregnant!
And while some women get strange cravings, others will get food aversions that put them off foods they once loved.
If you have questions about your cravings like, “when do pregnancy cravings start and why am I getting these strange cravings”, I’ll provide you with some insight and other interesting pregnancy facts.
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When Do Pregnancy Craving Start?
Pregnancy cravings usually start at the end of the first trimester and peak during the second trimester. During the third trimester, they will start to wane if not go away completely.
Food aversions are associated with nausea and morning sickness that is common in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Although these are common patterns for cravings and food aversions, women can experience cravings at any time throughout their pregnancy. This is pretty normal and nothing to be alarmed about; unless you are having cravings for things like sand, mud, clay or other inedible items. In this case, it might be time to see a doctor!
What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?
There are several factors that play a role in pregnancy cravings. These include the following:
- Hormones: When you are pregnant, hormone levels are at a peak and they could be contributing to your food cravings. If you find you’re craving the same foods you normally crave when you’re having your period, it’s likely your hormones are doing their part.
- Super Sensitive Senses: During pregnancy, a women’s senses are heightened. This includes her sense of smell and her sense of taste. This can make certain foods taste particularly delicious while making others taste absolutely gross.
- Nutritional Signals are Tricky: There is some truth behind the theory that the body knows what’s good for it. The foods pregnant women crave could be the same foods they know are healthy for them and their baby, but that doesn’t explain why some may prefer junk food over fruits and vegetables. It may be that the body is looking for something healthy like dairy products but is craving ice cream instead of low-fat yogurt.
- A Need for Comfort: Pregnancy is a sensitive time and many women feel the need to be cared for. Therefore, they may crave food that they feel is comforting, whatever that food may be.
What Can I Do About Pregnancy Cravings?
Cravings should go away gradually but if yours do not, there may be a psychological reason behind why the cravings are continuing. They can be due to an underlying emotional need that may be worth exploring.
In other cases, if you’re craving unhealthy foods, there are things you can do to keep yourself from giving in. These include the following:
- Stay Active: Instead of giving into cravings, try taking a walk or going to the gym.
- Replace Unhealthy Cravings with Healthy Ones: You may be craving chocolate, but try eating some oatmeal instead. It might not seem as satisfying, but after eating something healthy, you may be surprised at how well it works to curb those urges.
- Give in Every Once in a While: Deprivation is never a good thing. Every once in a while it’s okay to give in to your cravings. Just don’t overdo it.
- Stock Up on Healthy Foods: If you are craving unhealthy food, you will be less likely to eat these foods if they are not in the house. Therefore, it’s best to resist the urge to buy these items when you are in the grocery store.
What Foods Should I Be Eating During My Pregnancy?
If you are having cravings during your pregnancy, and you’re not sure if these are foods you should be eating or not, here is a list of some do’s and don’ts for pregnant women.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products are recommended because they have the protein and calcium your baby needs. Yogurt is recommended because it has probiotics that are good for digestion. Pregnant women should stay away from dairy food that is high in fat as to avoid excessive weight gain.
- Dark, Leafy Greens: Broccoli and other dark leafy greens are great for pregnant women because they are rich in nutrients. Their high fiber content can also reduce the risk of constipation.
- Lean Meats: Lean meats are a great source of protein. Meats like pork and beef are also rich in B vitamins, choline and iron all of which are recommended for pregnant women.
- Berries: Berries are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, water and plant compounds. They make a great addition to a pregnant woman’s diet.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, plant compounds, B vitamins and magnesium, all of which are vital nutrients for pregnant women.
- High Mercury Fish: Mercury is a toxic element that has no known safe level of exposure. Therefore, it’s best for pregnant women to reduce their consumption of high mercury fish like tuna, swordfish and shark.
- Raw and Undercooked Foods: Raw and undercooked foods may have bacteria in them and may cause salmonella. Pregnant women should avoid raw eggs and undercooked or raw meat and seafood.
- Organ Meat: Organ meat is a good source of iron, B12, vitamin A and copper. However, pregnant women should limit their consumption to avoid vitamin A and copper toxicity.
Now you have the answer to the question, when do pregnancy cravings start. You also know the reasons behind those cravings, how to control your cravings, what foods you should be eating and which you should avoid. Hopefully, this information plays a valuable part in helping you maintain a healthy pregnancy. We wish you the best of luck at this important stage of your life.