Monday, June 9, 2014

Pregnancy Food Cravings: What They Really Mean

Pregnancy Food Cravings
Just about every pregnant woman has had food cravings at one point. Some women have severe cravings, even for items that are not considered food (pica). Every craving means something.

Many women crave chocolate around their period. That usually means that your body is actually craving magnesium - a mineral that helps to minimize cramping. Of course you can indulge in chocolate every now and then, but what you really should eat is food that is high in magnesium, like nuts & seeds, legumes and some fruits.

Your body is amazing. It knows which foods contain which vitamins and minerals. If you are deficient, then your body will crave the food that contains elements of that deficiency (even if it is an unhealthy craving). An example of this would be a craving for red meat during pregnancy. That means that you aren't getting enough protein, which you need a lot of to build a baby. If you are craving a food that is healthy, then trust yourself and eat as much as you feel you need. If the food isn't so healthy, like cheez wiz, then you should try to figure out what you're really craving.

Some other common cravings & what you really need:

  • Sweets - This one is a bit more complex, but could mean that you need more good sources of sweets (like fruits, honey and/or maple syrup, etc). Sugar is extremely addictive and actually suppresses your immune system. If you don't eat processed sugar, then you are less likely to crave sweets. Switch over to the good stuff - honey and maple syrup and fresh fruit. 
  • Bread - Your body actually needs more protein. You can get this through meats, beans, nuts & seeds, eggs and dairy sources.  
  • Pickles - This could mean a couple different things. #1 - that you are craving the salt in pickles. Pregnant women should not limit their salt intake. #2 is that you need a little extra liver support. Eat dark green leafy veggies. 
  • Ice - this could mean that you are anemic (iron deficiency, which is also common during pregnancy), or that you need more zinc. Foods that are high in zinc are also usually high in iron. These include: beef and lamb, spinach, and pumpkin seeds. 
  • Ice cream - This could mean that you need more calcium and/or that you need to eliminate your processed sugar intake. 
  • Spicy Foods - Your body will crave spicy foods if you need to cool down. I know, that seems odd, but if you eat spicy food it makes you sweat and that cools down your body. Don't believe me? Eat a bowl of hot soup on a hot day and see what happens. You will probably feel REALLY hot while you are eating it, but after you break a sweat you will cool down to a healthy level. 
  • Potato Chips - This could be a craving for salt or a craving for protein. Pregnant women should be eating a lot of protein throughout the day. If you aren't, you will crave foods that are high in carbohydrates. If you do eat a lot of protein and don't limit your salt, then you may be craving fat. Your body needs an adequate amount of healthy fat to build your baby. 
  • Fruit - Your body is telling you that you need the vitamins and minerals in the specific fruit you are craving. Please do indulge - this is a healthy craving. 
  • Soda - Many women experiencing morning sickness crave carbonated beverages. You should avoid caffeine during pregnancy, so you could consider healthy alternatives (like Spritzer, or Izzy - both carbonated fruit juices). Also, try to avoid unhealthy sodas because they contain high amounts of processed sugar. 
Never underestimate what your body is trying to tell you! A healthy diet during pregnancy can curb your cravings as well as provide a great foundation for your baby's health. 

Natural birth Montreal