Do you know what pregnancy cravings really are?
We’ve all heard pregnancy cravings can be some of the most exceptional and weird food desires women ever experience. Have you ever heard of pickles and ice cream as one of the top cravings during pregnancy?
We’re not just talking about foods rich in nutrients and superfoods. We’re also talking about the kind of foods that make a pregnant woman go from being a meat lover to a vegetarian, or vice versa.
Well, despite these commonly drastic taste changes, a lot of studies have been done to give a proper explanation on the real cause of these weird pregnancy cravings.
One of the most common, well-known theories, explains pregnancy cravings as hormone-based symptoms. Other studies consider pregnancy cravings to be psychological.
Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., who works at the Monell Chemical Senses in Philadelphia, is a food craving expert. She admits that a large number of theories exist when explaining the origin of pregnancy cravings.
“There is a lot of evidence that hormones may drive these cravings, but no one has any idea what the mechanism might be,” says Pelchat. “Another hypothesis is that it is habitual. Women are feeling crummy; they feel like indulging, so they eat carbohydrates or chocolate.”
She believes this is caused by endorphins and serotonin. These are two of our most important hormones, both located in our brain. They are responsible for our mood. When these hormone levels are normal, or even higher, they make us feel better, happier, and more energetic.
Some theories indicate that pregnancy cravings are mainly caused by hormonal changes. Others state they’re signals from our body, signs our body needs certain elements like protein, calories, sugar, calcium, etc.
However, a recent study might have just gone deeper into finding the reason why pregnant women experience these major cravings. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is one of the most potent appetites stimulator substances. This material is manufactured in our hypothalamus (a part of our brain) and is delivered to different regions of the brain to increase our appetite.
The research showed that when this substance is injected into various parts of a mouse’s brain, their appetite will drastically increase. On the other hand, it’s a proven fact that the level of this substance (NPY) in pregnant women increases significantly. According to these facts, we can pretty much assume that brain chemistry plays a major role in a pregnant woman’s growing appetite.
What are the top cravings during pregnancy?
When it comes to pregnancy cravings, the types of food that most pregnant women crave are endless. There is really no limit to them!
Some of the most unique and weird combinations are actually stimulated by pregnancy fevers. If you are pregnant and are experiencing this phenomenon, you should already know they are difficult to get over until you have that piece of chocolate or nachos right on the table! But did you know what is considered to be the most common foods/type of foods these women crave? Have a look at these pregnancy cravings combinations that might sound a little over exaggerated.
If you are currently pregnant, don’t be surprised if they have been on your daily “must eat” list.
One of the most common pregnancy cravings is salty foods. Natural salt, like Himalayan Sea Salt, actually contains lots of nutritional elements needed by both mom and baby.
“Regular consumption of Himalayan Pink salt provides essential minerals, trace elements, balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, and increases circulation.” // MountainRoseHerbs.com
Back to the theory about cravings being signs from our body, scientists have discovered that changes in our brain are major indicators of what our body (especially a pregnant woman’s body) really needs.
Taking fruit flies as an example, a study revealed,
“We found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of salt in the diet and some eggs they were able to produce.” – says Dr. Carlos Ribiero.
“It seems that salt is important everywhere, from flies to elephants, to humans. It also suggests the existence of unifying biological principles underlying this behavior that could be traced across species.” – Dr. Ribiero added.
Some of the most common foods pregnant women find tasteful with some extra salt are French fries, mixed nuts, different sauces, and chicken tenders.
Sweets are considered to be the most common pregnancy craving! Some of the most preferred sweets are chocolate and ice cream. But, there is a scientific reason behind his kind of craving.
The main reason so many pregnant women are always craving sweets, especially chocolate, is their low blood sugar, usually accompanied by feelings of sleep and fatigue.
Depending on a woman’s body, a woman can be more responsive to insulin. That is what makes them crave sweets to regulate their blood sugar drops. Even though “pregnancy cravings” might be a strong reason to stock up on your favorite ice cream, we’re bigger fans of healthy, nutrient-dense, REAL food choices during pregnancy.
Craving something sweet? There are healthy versions of sweet treats – like this Frozen Hot Chocolate at Recipes to Nourish. Need more inspiration? Delicious Obsessions has 100+ ideas for you!
Spicy, hot foods
A common pregnancy craving is spicy foods. Even though it might not be as popular as chocolate, spicy food is considered to be craved even by women who might have always hated spicy food all their lives!
These kinds of foods will make the temperature of a pregnant woman’s body drop significantly. Did you know that your craving food might also be a reliable indicator of your child’s sex? Yes, it’s true! According to mother and baby social network site, gurgle.com, women pregnant with boys loved spicy foods! They were always craving them whereas women carrying girls who, on their top pregnancy cravings list, had chocolate.
Weird and unique combinations
The same survey also discovered some of the most bizarre food combinations like pickles with ice cream, tuna over bananas, or pickles with peanut butter. Other pregnancy cravings were some inedible objects like the sponge, starch, mud, etc. Almost 30% of these women found some of these combinations very acceptable admitting that pickles might actually taste good with all kind of other foods.
If you are craving harmful things like the ones we mentioned above, you should immediately call your doctor or midwife! You might have “pica,” a condition that indicates significant nutrition deficiency in your body.
Regarding other pregnancy cravings, there is nothing to worry about! As long as you are satisfying your cravings while eating nourishing foods, you should be okay. Just make sure you’re getting a good variety of foods, so you and your baby get all the necessary nutrients, like vitamins C, E, A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids, etc.
If you really want a hamburger, opt for pastured/grass-fed beef over commercially raised meat – you’ll get more omega-3 fatty acids that way, which is perfect for your baby’s brain!
If you want potato chips, go organic and cook them at home in a friendly fat like pastured lard, pastured tallow, or coconut oil. These are all stable at high temperatures and nutrient-dense for both you and baby. Don’t forget the Himalayan sea salt!
To prevent large servings of ice cream or candy bars, fill your stomach first with nutrient-dense foods. Also, drink lots of water so when your pregnancy cravings alarm rings so you won’t choose the biggest plate or portion available.
Pregnancy cravings are a common and normal phenomenon, so don’t stress out about them!
Featured image source: www.irelandsbabyshow.com