Imli Ladoo, anyone??One of the most common feelings among pregnant women is food cravings. Food craving is a strong desire which arouses in pregnant women, to eat a particular food item(s) immediately, instantly and on the go. About 85% of pregnant women have atleast one type of food craving- sometimes for food they have not even liked before. The most common food cravings among expectant mothers are to eat pickles, ice-creams, sweets and sour fruits, though many women opt for strange choices like raw cauliflower or cabbage! Now the question is what causes this craving? Well! There is no scientific answer to this question. It may be due to changing hormones during pregnancy or might just be a psychological factor. Some expert says it is the body which is demanding these foods due to nutrition deficiency, hence causing cravings while others argue if it is due to nutrition deficiency, the craving should be only for healthy food and not for ice-creams, chocolates and pickles!!

The common food cravings during pregnancy:

  1. Pickles: Many pregnant women feel strong desire for pickle due to its crunchiness and refreshing taste. Some like vinegar in it. It is a general belief that the women who lack sodium in their body crave pickles but there is no evidence for it.
  2. Chocolates: Chocolate is very common food craving during pregnancy. It makes you happy, elevates mood but could also indicate deficiency of vitamin B.
  3. Ice-creams: As ice-cream has lots of flavour and it gives a cooling effect, many women feel the urge to eat it and they really enjoy eating it like kids.
  4. Chips: Craving for salty and crunchy food item is generally fulfilled by potato chips.
  5. Chaats: The erstwhile chaats and paapdis with bhallas and anardanas are often desired by pregnant women.

What can be done for cravings?

  1. Responding to cravings is good unless it is something which is not good for your pregnancy. The best way to handle cravings for unhealthy items like chips, chocolate, burgers is to have them in less quantity. For instance if you crave chips, you may eat some instead of finishing whole packet alone.
  2. If you feel the desire to have something unhealthy like alcohol or soda, divert yourself from it. Call a friend and talk to her on some entirely different topic or watch a good movie. This could also signal some deficiency even though these foods contain nothing that your body needs.
  3. If you crave something weird like clay or ashes, you should contact your gynaecologist.

Usually these cravings disappear or lessen by fourth month of pregnancy. If yours continue for long you may need lots of emotional support from your partner. Hugs and attention is what you are looking for. Lack of emotional support may also turn you to eating.

Cravings during pregnancy also depend on cultural factors. In different parts of the world, woman may crave foods available in their region. Indian women crave pickles or tamarinds during pregnancy while in western countries cravings for soda, ice creams etc. is very popular. It is also seen in many cases that the food which a woman did not like prior to pregnancy becomes her favourite during this period.

Read about handling food aversions during pregnancy.