What Your Cravings Mean
Are your pregnancy food cravings normal and do they mean you are lacking something? When the desire strikes, it's a vivid urge ... You can practically taste whatever it is you are yearning for and if you don't get it, it feels like you might explode. Pregnancy cravings are a very real thing. So, what are women craving?
Amy Mueller was a vegetarian when the site and smell of turkey sandwiches at the sandwich shop in her office building began to torment her. "I remember feeling like I had a hollow pit in my stomach, and being really smell sensitive. ... It was very strange. Prior to the cravings I found meat of any kind to be revolting, so this was dramatically different," Amy said.
Not knowing that she was pregnant with triplets, Amy resisted at first. But once she knew she was pregnant, she had a change of heart. "I knew there were healthy ways to adapt a vegetarian diet, and my doctor would have been OK with it, but he did often say the best gage of what to do/what not to do (whether it was eating or exercising or whatever) was to be in tune with how my body was feeling. So I just tuned in. And honestly so much changed in my life when we found out we were having 3 babies instead of 1 that it didn't seem like giving up vegetarianism was such a big deal relative to everything else," Amy said.
Post-pregnancy, Amy continued eating poultry and also fish.
What Amy experienced was a classic example of a food craving - a deep sensation that strikes when you least expect it and draws you like a gravitational pull to a certain food. You. Just. Have. To. Have. It.
There is a theory, though unproven, that the foods you crave are a sign of a nutrient deficiency. While studies haven't backed it up, doctors do say that listening to your body is a good idea -- especially if what you are craving is healthy. For the more unhealthy needs though, moderation is key.
So, what do mommies to be crave?
Some cravings are really unexpected, like a vegetarian craving meat or a certain need for milk when you normally don't drink the stuff. For Esther Grenz of Grenz Communications, the uncontrollable urge had her literally eating lemons. "During my first trimester I had crazy cravings for sour, sour, sour. I started with regular tangy hard candy. Not enough. So I moved on to Sour Patch Kids. The problem with those is that they're sour and then sweet. I would spit them out as soon as I sucked all the sour off. Not enough. So I moved on to a candy called "Warheads" -- incredibly sour. And wonderful. But they were too much sugar. So, then I just started eating lemons straight -- like they were oranges. I ate about 2-3 a day for a few weeks," said Esther.
The problem with a craving like this? Esther worried about the sugar in the candy being too much for her body, so she switched to lemons thinking it must be better since it's a fruit. "But my midwife said I needed to take it easy. Lemons weren't good for my teeth so I shouldn't go overboard. I tried to be good about that," said Esther.
Vegetarian or not, the desire to eat meat can be insurmountable while pregnant. "My husband says he knew I was pregnant when I came home and told him I felt like having hamburgers for dinner. I absolutely never ate burgers or anything close to either red or white meat...and then I became pregnant. During my pregnancy, I absolutely craved sausage. The guys at the meat counter loved me - I must have been the first woman they'd seen standing in front of them, licking my lips, mouth agape, with both hands on the glass," says Kristen Shear, who'd given up meat for ideological reasons years before.
Shear chose to give in to cravings partially because she told her husband that if the desire to eat meat struck, she would eat it for the baby's sake. "I was really tempted to try to avoid my cravings and just go on being a vegetarian, but I had made my husband a promise that I would eat meat if my body started craving it when I was pregnant - if only for the baby's sake. So, I started eating meat and made my carnivorous husband's year. He's the cook in the family, so my decision to eat meat was like a party for him," Kristen said. "I'm a firm believer that women who are pregnant should follow the French and eat as many different foods when they're pregnant as possible - particularly foods they wouldn't normally eat. I think it helps both the mother keep her nutrients up and the baby develop a taste for different foods."
Shear, who breastfed her daughter for 18 months, hasn't yet gone back to vegetarianism, though she says that she has cut back on the meat.
For some moms-to-be sweets turn from delicious treat to a constant need. Suddenly, that hot fudge sundae isn't just a once in a while thing and those sinfully delicious cookies take many more passes through the lips than moderation allows.
For Lani Harr of GirlfriendGrams.com, her sweet cravings were set off by a McDonalds McFlurry with M&Ms that her husband bought for her when she was three months pregnant. "And I am not a fast-food person at all," explained Lani, making the craving even more strange to her. She also had a very strong desire to eat Starburst candy -- lots of it. "I couldn't go through a checkout line without buying several packs, and sometimes I made special trips to the store just to buy the candy," said Lani.
Do you have a sweet craving? If you are at risk for gestational diabetes, this is one craving to be very careful of. Eating lots of sweets during pregnancy could up your chances of developing gestational diabetes if you are at risk.
It's the ultimate pregnancy joke - a pregnant woman craving pickles. But it really does happen to expectant moms. For some, it's the briny salty taste of foods like pickles and green olives that they cannot get enough of.
Esther, who craved sour things, also had a hankering for the salty foods as well. "My colleagues would all laugh at me when there was an office birthday party and everyone was sitting around eating cake, and I just had a big jar of olives. And, yes, there was even one morning when — before leaving for work — I found myself in my kitchen with a glass of OJ in one hand and a pickle in the other. I laughed out loud at what a cliché I was," Esther said.
If you find yourself craving non-foods, such as dirt or ice, you may be experiencing something called pica, which could indicate an iron deficiency. Read more about they signs and symptoms of pica here. Talk to you doctor who will help you add the right amount of iron to your diet.
Tell us: What did you crave while pregnant? Comment below!