So much of what you hear about pregnancy is pure myth. For example, you don’t need to worry about any action of yours increasing the likelihood of your child being born with a particular birthmark (via The Atlantic), and whether you carry your baby high or low is no indicator of gender (via Healthline). Additionally, if you’re experiencing a lot of pregnancy heartburn, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re about to birth a hairy baby … Oh wait, that’s one old wives tale that may actually have some truth to it (via PubMed), so that sour stomach may well mean that your baby will come out with a full head of hair.
Another pregnancy story that is more fact than fiction is how you’re likely to find yourself craving all manner of foods that you weren’t quite so obsessed with BB (before bump). Despite the advice given by well-meaning pregnancy experts, such as the authors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” you probably won’t find yourself wanting to nosh on nothing but sardines, kale, and prunes. Instead, if you’re like most women, you’re more likely to be longing for less healthy (but admittedly far tastier) treats.
You may be moo-ved to consume more dairy
Nine Naturals says that dairy is among the most popular pregnancy craving foods. A lot of women crave cheese (who doesn’t?), while some go for yogurt, and others just stick with plain old milk. Dairy cravings stem from a natural need for extra calcium at this time as this nutrient is needed to feed the growing baby as well as the expectant mom.
While all dairy items can fill the need for calcium, GoodtoKnow notes that there’s one that’s at the top of the wish list for most pregnant women: ice cream.
There are a number of reasons why ice cream leads the dairy hit parade. For one thing, it can actually be easier to stomach than milk and cheese. This ice-cold treat can also help cool down those rising core body temps that pregnancy tends to bring. Perhaps the most important reason pregnant women crave ice cream, though, is the same reason we all scream for it: It just so happens to be one of the yummiest foods in existence!
You might find yourself reaching for salty snacks
Popcorn, potato chips, pretzels … all manner of salty snacks (even ones not starting with the letter “P”) make the list of pregnant women’s most-wanted treats. As it happens, there’s a biological reason for this too — specifically, a need for sodium. As nutritionist Fiona Tuck told HuffPost Australia, “Salt or sodium is important for nerve and water balance within the human body.” She goes on to say that “sodium requirements may slightly increase during pregnancy to help maintain fluid balance, blood pressure and nerve transmission,” but she cautions pregnant women against overdoing the salt, particularly if they are prone to high blood pressure.
Dietitian Jessica Spendlove mentions another reason why pregnancy increases salt cravings: “One of the most common reasons we can crave salt is dehydration,” she told HuffPost Australia. “This can be related to when we have a cold, drink alcohol or are pregnant.” She does, however, warn that this kind of hankering can sometimes be caused by underlying medical conditions like adrenal insufficiency or Bartter’s syndrome, and suggests consulting a doctor if pregnancy salt cravings become extreme and persistent.
Super-sour lemons help shock pregnancy-dulled tastebuds back to life
If pregnancy finds you suddenly wanting to make lemonade with no sugar whatsoever or snacking on lemon segments as if they were oranges, you can rest assured that this is another typical pregnancy craving. While it could be that your body has decided that now is a good time to address a vitamin C deficiency, Nine Naturals says that there could be another reason behind the craving for lemons and other sour foods. Pregnancy, it seems, can sometimes dull the taste buds, so pregnant women sometimes find that they can only appreciate the most extreme flavors.
Pregnancy Food Checker suggests another possible reason why lemon in particular is something pregnant women crave: It might be due to its reputation as a food that can help keep nausea under control. While there isn’t any hard evidence that consuming lemons actually helps settle an upset stomach, the placebo effect is a powerful thing. What’s more, the scent of lemon oil or lemon peel has been shown to help to reduce nausea, so just the act of slicing a lemon to add to your iced tea could do the trick.
Pickles are practically a pregnancy cliché
One joke you’re bound to hear as soon as you announce that you’re pregnant (or grow large enough to make any such announcement unnecessary) is about how you’ll probably be gobbling down pickles round the clock.
Well, so what if you are? Pickles are actually one typical pregnancy craving that isn’t too harmful to indulge in. According to Healthline, they’re low in calories, have little in the way of carbs, and contain zero fat. Pickle juice even has health benefits ranging from relieving muscle cramps to regulating blood sugar and combating bad breath.
As to why pickles are so popular with pregnant women, Parents magazine says it’s because they tick two of the aforementioned craving boxes: They’re both salty and sour. If pickles have one drawback, though, it’s the fact that they can contain high levels of sodium. If your body requires the extra sodium at this time, though, pickles are a practically perfect pregnancy food.
Some cravings are a bit more off-the-wall
While most pregnancy cravings are for foods that even non-pregnant people enjoy, pregnancy will occasionally trigger more unusual desires, such as a yen for eating ice cubes, coffee grounds, or baking soda — or even non-food items like dirt, clay, or laundry starch. This condition is called pica, and while the American Pregnancy Association says it’s not unusual, they warn that eating such things can be harmful to both mom and baby.
It could be that pica is caused by an underlying iron deficiency that becomes more acute during pregnancy. In such a case, it’s likely that iron supplements may lessen — if not entirely do away with — the desire to eat such things, although you may need to make use of behavior modification techniques like chewing gum in order to control this craving. It must be noted, however, that there is also a cultural aspect to pica. Nutrition expert Hayley Pedrick spoke with GoodtoKnow on the subject, bringing up the fact that “in Kenya pregnant women eat clay due [to] its perceived positive impact on fertility and reproduction.”
What are your go-to pregnancy foods?
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