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From Catherine Zeta Jones’ fondness for Branston Pickle to Nichole Richie’s desire for doughnuts, pregnancy cravings affect most mums-to-be. Here’s the lowdown.
Despite much research and the experiences of millions of mums-to-be, it is still unclear exactly why we crave certain foods during pregnancy or even non foods – called pica. Some say hormonal changes are responsible, or a need for certain nutrients. There’s no scientific evidence to back these theories up though, so we know pregnancy cravings happen but don’t know the reason for them.
Pregnancy cravings can strike at any stage, but are common in the early weeks and can change throughout your pregnancy. They may even be a sign you’re expecting. Mum, Ali, knew she was pregnant second time around because of her cravings: ’I had a thing for sucking lemon quarters and drinking spicy tomato juice (not at the same time!) in the early weeks of my first pregnancy, so when I craved them again, I knew I was pregnant.’
Sour and spicy foods are common cravings in pregnancy, along with salt, pickles, red meat, dairy products and chocolate. But it could be anything, as a quick look at Bounty’s pregnancy cravings forum reveals:
From tuna, curry and bacon sandwiches to preferring smells rather than tasting cravings (some cravings, often non-food ones, are satisfied by sniffing rather than eating) cravings come in all forms!
Pregnancy cravings can be mild or intense, but however they strike you, try and keep the rest of your diet as well-balanced as you can to help keep you and your baby healthy. You only need about another 300 calories a day when you’re pregnant, so make them as healthy as possible. Take a look at the Bounty Your Pregnancy guide for healthy eating information.
Doctors and health experts advise that as long as what you really, really want isn’t harmful and is in moderation, even strange pregnancy cravings are not a problem: ’As long as you stick to a healthy food intake and don’t eat too much of something unsuitable, like foods that are high in fat or sugar, don’t worry: you’ll find that your craving will pass,’ says paediatric dietician, Lucy Findlay. But always discuss it with your midwife or doctor if you are in any way concerned.
In some cases, a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron deficiency anemia and zinc deficiency, may trigger unusual cravings. Pica may also occur in adults who crave a certain texture in their mouth. Some examples- animal faeces, clay, dirt, hairballs, ice, paint, sand.