“When I was pregnant with my boy, I could eat mayo with a spoon and I was craving Big Macs. Garlic made me sick and I couldn’t use my cleaning products anymore. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I loved apples and orange juice but I couldn’t get anywhere near red meat.”
“Yummy! Muffins and Cheese Whiz!!! I could eat at least two or three every day!”
“During my first pregnancy, I used to love barbecue chips… I don’t know why! I didn’t even like that flavor before!”
“I needed my chocolate cone every night…”
“I started to eat shrimps and garlic butter, oatmeal and fruits… but the smell of mustard and of some perfumes and soaps made me sick.”
“I had sugar cravings and obsessions for certain fruits. I could eat about ten per meal. But the weirdest thing was my meat craving because I am a vegetarian.”
“For me, it was ice cream, fruits, and tons of caramel puddings but red meat was out of the question.”
“I keep eating peanut butter and bananas. I have that for snacks because I don’t like anything else anymore. Especially fish and meat.”
“I ate so much chicken during pregnancy… at least 4-5 times a week!”
“I have various cravings that come without warning and as long as I don’t give in, I can’t think of anything else.”
“Since I got pregnant, I have had a bionic nose! I can smell everything near or far. I always loved meat and now I can’t eat it anymore because it tastes bitter.”
What’s going on?
Now you know... pickles and ice cream is not an urban legend! It's true... irresistible cravings for fruits, dairy products, and chocolate; or disdain for red meat and some smells truly does happen in pregnant women. Studies have shown that 85% of all pregnant women are affected by these changes in their diet.
A non-scientific study has shown that 40% of all pregnant women craved sugar, 33% craved salt, 17% craved spicy food and the rest preferred acid fruits like lemons and green apples to sweeter ones like strawberries.
A widespread theory claims that the great hormonal changes that affect pregnant women have an impact on their taste and smell and, consequently, are responsible for these sudden cravings for certain foods because women in premenstrual or menopausal periods also feel these cravings.
Others argue that if hormones are responsible to some extent, they cannot be the only culprits since the cravings vary from one woman to another. Because the caloric needs of a woman increase of about 150 calories per day during the first trimester and 350 calories per day during the second and third trimesters, the simple fact of needing more food could also have an impact.
We should also consider the theory that stipulates that these acquired tastes are caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals and that these cravings are our body’s way of sending a message. If we lack proteins, we suddenly crave meat. If we lack beta-carotene, we want carrots and peaches. But if these cravings come from deficiencies, why don’t we crave broccoli instead of chocolate?
Because of hormonal changes and perspiration, you must also expect your nose to react differently. That is why your favorite perfume can suddenly make you nauseous. Choose light and fruity perfumes that will spare your nose a little!
Truth is... nobody knows what causes these cravings! Doctors agree that if they don’t stop you from having a healthy diet, you should not feel guilty for giving in to them! You should only worry about sweets and fast food that could make you gain too much weight. For example, if you crave ice cream, try ice milk or frozen yogurt to keep your calories to a normal level. In any case, it is recommended to talk to your doctor and ask for advice regarding the possibility of suffering from deficiencies.
Vitamin D, calcium and iron help cell and skeletal formation.
Vitamin A is actively involved in fetal growth.
Vitamin C boosts and strengthens the placenta.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada