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Are you a mom-to-be who suddenly wants to eat tacos and whipped cream or mix pickles with ice cream? These food combinations may sound weird, but they’re actually the comfort food of many pregnant women around the world. So if that includes you, then congratulations! Welcome to the bizarre world of pregnancy food cravings!
What actually are food cravings during pregnancy?
Up to 90 percent of pregnant women in the United States experience food cravings. Food cravings refer to the eagerness to eat certain food items. You may not like these foods before or after you got pregnant. Most of the foods that pregnant women crave have weird combinations and tastes.
The exact cause of pregnancy food cravings remains unknown, but many explanations center in the hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy.
Among them are the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin may decrease your appetite to certain foods, making you a picky eater while pregnant. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is responsible for stimulating your appetite and may be involved in the sudden admiration of certain types of food.
Alongside, Neuropeptide Y (NPY), an appetite-stimulant that is released by the hypothalamus, was found to be increased during pregnancy. Experts suggest that it may also play a major role in pregnancy cravings, but this idea still needs to be validated on human studies.
When do food cravings start in pregnancy?
Pregnant women may begin to crave foods on their first trimester, at around 3rd to 8th week of pregnancy. Many women notice that their cravings begin to appear with their morning sickness. Food cravings usually heighten on the second trimester, then declines as the mom-to-be reaches her third trimester.
When to seek help about your food cravings
Though most food cravings are harmless for pregnant women, they are some who might end up eating more of the unhealthy food choices.
For example, craving for sweets like chocolates, ice cream and cakes are typically fine during pregnancy. However, if sweets comprised the majority of your food intake, it will put you at a greater risk of gestational diabetes. The same thing goes with eating too much fatty, salty and oily foods that will increase your risk of getting pregnancy-related complications.
Pregnant women may also crave for non-edible items like matchsticks, hair or soap. This type of food craving is called pica and may compromise your health. If you feel a sudden urge to eat non-nutritive items, you should seek consultation from your doctor immediately.
Food cravings are a normal part of pregnancy. It’s not easy to carry a child in your womb for nine months, so it’s simply reasonable for mothers to find comfort on certain foods while pregnant. However, if you think that what you are eating will already put you and your baby at risk, it’s best to seek advice from your obstetrician.
How about you? When did you start getting pregnancy cravings? Share your story in the comments section below.
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