Listen to Those Pregnancy Cravings
- Thursday, 18 April 2013
Yesterday it was pickles and ice cream, and today it's a chocolate and egg sandwich. When those pregnancy cravings kick into full gear, there's no denying them. But the seemingly strange food combinations you just can't get enough of are no mistake.
The human body is an amazing machine and during pregnancy the body becomes finely tuned to support the growth of a new life, re-organizing itself to readily process the good stuff you put in, and clear out the inappropriate materials from the blood stream.
The lesson in cravings, is to look for the foods, deficits and behaviors in your life that are the underlying cause of your cravings. This may require a radical shift in perspective because many people view cravings as a weakness, when they're actually important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance.
When you experience cravings, deconstruct them by asking yourself three questions:
What does my body want?
Why does it want that?
Will I be satisfied if I eat that?
This will lay the groundwork for deconstructing your prenatal cravings, allowing you to decide whether to indulge in your fantasy food or choose something your body needs.
What Are Your Cravings Saying?
There are six basic causes of cravings, and your cravings are your body's way of telling you it's time for some change in what you're eating (or what you aren't).
The body doesn’t send the message “thirsty” until it’s on the verge of dehydration. Instead, thirst often manifests as mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a strange craving is to drink a full glass of water. Remember, during pregnancy the body requires more water to conduct the metabolic processes. So grab your stainless steel water bottle and drink away—to the tune of at least eight tall glasses of water daily.
Certain foods are more expansive while other foods are more contractive. Whether you are eating foods that are either extremely expansive or extremely contractive you’ll crave the opposite to balance yourself out. If you’re eating a diet too rich in sugar or breads (expansive) you may start craving meat or coffee (contractive). Your body, in its infinite wisdom, wants to bring you back into balance, so if you eat within a balanced continuum of whole foods, you can avoid sharp swings in cravings.
Sometimes we experience cravings for foods we’ve eaten in the past, including foods similar to what our ancestors ate, childhood favorites or something recently eaten. A good way to re-construct these cravings is to eat a healthier version of your ancestral or childhood foods, and remember to eat them in moderation.
The body often craves foods that balance out the elements of the season. In the spring people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus fruits. In the summer cooling foods like fruit, raw food and ice cream are favorites. The fall brings a desire for grounding foods like squash, root veggies, onions and nuts. And in the winter people crave hot foods and heat-producing foods like animal protein, oil and fat. People will also crave foods associated with holidays such as turkey, eggnog, and sweets.
Lack of Nutrients
If the body has inadequate nutrients it will produce odd cravings. General inadequate nutritional distribution produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy like caffeine—and caffeine and pregnancy is not a healthy mix. Inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings (and nausea!), but like caffeine, salt can increase your blood pressure. Instead of reaching for salted peanuts, make a salad full of leafy greens, broccoli florets, carrot, peas and a legume, or snack on some roasted sweet potatoes.
When the body experiences menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels often cause strange cravings. You're pregnant—enjoy it. Your cravings are your body’s unique way of trying to find balance. So when you have that craving for mustard on your pizza, go for it.
Photo Credit: phallin