Why do cravings develop? Pregnancy cravings are estimated to occur in about 60% of women. They can occur at any time during pregnancy but are most common in the early weeks. Research into food cravings during pregnancy and the types of food women crave has produced varied findings. One theory is that cravings are a sign from your body that you may need more of a certain vitamins and minerals. For example, cravings for chips may mean you need more sodium. Another theory links them to the hormonal changes going on in your body. Common food cravings include ice cream, chocolate and other sweet foods, fish, dairy products and fruit. Sometimes there is an urge to eat unusual food combinations or a type of food that you normally don’t like.
Non-food cravings Some pregnant women develop a craving to eat substances that are not food, such as chalk, clay, laundry starch or soap. Again, it’s not clear why this happens but they may be a sign of a more serious nutritional deficiency and should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
Tips to manage unhealthy cravings
- Eat regular, healthy meals, to help prevent sudden feelings of hunger.
- Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks to eat between meals.
- Try making some healthier food swaps. Examples include ice cream to frozen yoghurt.
- Don’t do the grocery shopping when you are hungry.
- Choose healthy foods that keep you full for longer. Examples include oats, wholegrain breads, baked beans, vegetables and fruit.
- Get plenty of sleep. Research has shown that people who are sleep deprived tend to crave junk food more often than healthy foods.
What to do about them?
Generally, cravings are nothing to worry about. It is okay to give in to the occasional food craving, as long as you are maintaining a nutritious diet most days so that you and your baby get the nutrients you need.
If you are craving a lot of unhealthy foods, such as sweets or chocolate, try not to over-indulge. Too much sugar can cause excessive weight gain and dental problems.
If you are concerned, always seek advice from your Doctor or Healthcare Professional.