If you’re pregnant or have been pregnant in the past, chances are you have experienced those crazy cravings to devour a certain food in large quantities.
Up to 90 per cent of pregnant women have experienced cravings at some stage of their pregnancy.
Pregnant women go through huge hormonal changes which can affect taste and smell, meaning you may crave one food but find just the smell of another completely off-putting.
When it comes to food cravings, there is no hard scientific explanation as to why they occur but anecdotal evidence suggests that some cravings indicate a deficiency in a certain nutrient.
Here’s what some of your cravings could mean.
Craving nonfood substances
Some mums have experienced bizarre cravings for nonfood substances, such as laundry starch and dirt or clay (a condition called pica), have been linked to an iron or zinc deficiency.
If you’re experiencing cravings for nonfood substances make sure you are eating a varied diet and speak to your doctor about your concerns.
A craving for ice has also been linked with these deficiencies.
Craving a big bar of Dairy Milk could mean you are lacking in magnesium. Healthy sources of magnesium include whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables such as spinach.
If you don’t want to stuff your face with chocolate but still want something sweet, try drizzling a little chocolate syrup on fruit for a healthier snack.
Craving salty foods
Pregnant women often crave salty snacks such as pickles, processed cheese and crisps. Many women find salt and vinegar crisps particularly satisfying during pregnancy.
A craving for these foods could indicate a need for sodium but be careful with your intake of high-fat salty foods like crisps. Vegetable crisps or sweet potato fries can be a good alternative.
Craving spicy foods
Many women find themselves craving a delicious curry or some hot red peppers, during pregnancy. This is partly because hot foods make the body sweat, which helps you cool down and also because your taste buds are more receptive to spicy foods during pregnancy.
It’s hard to stay cool during pregnancy, so add some spices to your next meal and see if it helps.
Craving lemons and sour food
Have you suddenly developed a taste for lemons despite hating them before?
Pregnant women enjoy sour foods more due to changes in the taste buds. Sour and spicy foods "shock" the tastebuds more and many women find these more stimulating than bland foods during pregnancy.
Mmm, there’s nothing better than some delicious ice-cream. A craving for ice-cream could indicate a need for extra fat and calories in your diet, so make sure you are getting lots of healthy fats in your diet.
If you’re in the second or third trimester, try increasing your calorie intake to make sure you’re getting enough food. Pregnant women ought to be eating approximately 2,200 every day calories in the second trimester and 2,400 on a daily basis in the third trimester.
Women who are expecting twins or triplets need extra calories throughout the entire pregnancy.
Not all pregnancy cravings are for unhealthy snacks. If you’re eating loads of fruit, it’s usually your body’s way of getting some extra nutrients for your bub. Try watermelons and grapes to stay cool and refreshed and they’re also a great source of Vitamin C too.
It’s good to indulge your cravings now and again but try to stick to a healthy balanced diet as much as possible.
Your extra calories should come from nutrient-rich foods and healthy fats, rather than processed foods which are high in fat but low in nutrients. If you need help with your cravings, ask your doctor or a qualified dietician for advice.