Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. This is evident when considering some of the complications that come with it. In particular, one of the most predominant complications that women are likely to experience is cravings when pregnant.
They may not be the most exciting part about being pregnant but cravings do have a purpose. This article should address a few common questions; some of which are: When do pregnancy cravings start? what is the purpose behind pregnancy cravings? and what you can do to control cravings while pregnant.
When Do Cravings Start
There are three trimesters. Each is separated by a length of about 12 to 13 weeks. Women should expect to experience cravings within the first trimester. In most common pregnancy cravings there are a few causes. Each plays a role in why women experience cravings and what they crave.
Hormones are important chemical signals the body uses to regulate the actions of most cells. They are generally produced by glands in our endocrine system and travel slowly to influence things like our mood, growth, sexual functions, reproduction, and metabolism.
With the wide reach that these chemical messages posses, and all the functions occurring in the body while growing a person, it should be no surprise that they have the potential to influence our eating habits. However, surprisingly enough, studies have shown that there is no direct link to pregnancy craving.
The study does not deny that hormones influence pregnancy cravings. Instead, it suggests that cravings are a side effect caused by an indirect change in the senses in pregnant women.
According to scientists, “ abnormal smell and/or taste perception was reported by 76% of the pregnant women”, in their study. This phenomenon is referred to as Hyperosmia. Hypersomnia has been linked to higher levels of estrogen in the body.
During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone are the most dominant hormones the body produces. It is not unlikely for a woman to produce more estrogen during pregnancy than she would have up to that point. Estrogen essentially triggers and manages the growth of the placenta.
The indirect changes that estrogen has in smell and taste influence mothers’ dietary habits. Sometimes this newly developed sensitivity can result in avoiding specific taste. At other times pregnant women may find themselves seeking out new and strange flavors. You can also follow the optimal diet for a Paleo pregnancy at Serenity Kids. If you think eating Paleo is hard, try doing it while pregnant.
B, zinc, magnesium, iodine, vitamin A, and calcium are all essential for the growth and development of a child.
By the last trimester, women can expect to eat up to 450 extra calories. This hunger, paired with Changes in taste and smell caused by estrogen, often result in snacking throughout the day.
It should come as no surprise that there is a sociological component to cravings. Culture is and will always bee a determining factor when it comes to deciding what we want to eat. This is a fact that can be examined closer by watching what women from different cultures crave.
In America, most women crave chocolate while pregnant. In Japan, the most common craving is rice. The reason behind these cultural influences is psychological programing. We are emotional creatures, and we associate different foods with certain emotions and experiences.
Our memories are key factors when making decisions about what we should eat. If ice cream was associated with happy memories as a child, then you are likely to eat ice cream as an adult in hopes of capturing that same feeling.
In addition to our sense of taste, our sense of smell does the same. Smells provide us with flash backs. These flashbacks often entice us to consume a particular food; so, a heightened sense of smell generally leads to a greater demand for particular foods.
How to Control Cravings
- Eat a balanced diet – as mentioned previously, the pregnant body requires more nutrients than before. A good way to conceal hunger is to eat nutritionally dense meals. It takes a longer time to break down whole wheat, vegetables, and fruits than it does to break down chocolates, ice cream, and cookies.
- Eat Throughout the day – To avoid drops in blood sugar and to avoid overindulgence, it may be best to develop an eating schedule. By eating six times every three hours the body receives the nutrients it needs to develop your child, and you stay healthy.
- Substitute unhealthy snacks with healthy ones – One of the easiest ways to get your nutrients for the day is to find healthy snacks to replace unhealthy snacks in your house.
- Buy low-calorie foods – If you feel a strong need to eat unhealthily, it may be best to get ahead of the problem and stock up on low-calorie alternatives.
- Exercise( consult your doctor) – with proper attention exercise is not only safe for pregnant women but beneficial. It can help manage weight gain and increase general fitness.
- Distract yourself – One of if not the best way to avoid eating is distracting one’s self from one’s cravings. Find a hobby. You can take up painting, embodiment, gardening, writing, photography, or even learn an instrument. Staying busy and being productive is a great way to avoid eating.
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Fredrick Little is a freelance healthcare blogger and copywriter. He is currently a student of biology and biomedical engineering attending North Carolina A&T. He has a passion for fitness inspired by his own 100+ pound weight loss journey. Fredrick wants to make the world a better place, one post at a time