One aspect that was noticeably the same in each of my four pregnancies was that I was affected by food – especially by the smell of food. Throughout one of my pregnancies I craved Chinese take out foods. Another pregnancy proved that smelling raw meat brought waves of nausea and I couldn’t be in the kitchen for food prepping. During another pregnancy, my husband craved pickles! So, even my partner-in-crime, so to speak, experienced pregnancy-related cravings. My initial response to why I had cravings (or aversions) to certain foods is that my pregnancies were very emotional and filled with anxiety. Craving comfort foods – think sweet, salty, fast foods – was one of my ways of dealing with anxiousness. My mind was on filter mode. Some examples of this include: find a doctor to support me, attempting a homebirth, paying for midwives, foreclosing on our first home, making the decision to homeschool and so on. Life happened and I did not make time to filter my anxiety. Instead, I should’ve taken the time to focus on a healthy diet, exercise and reducing stress as much as possible.
On the website www.whattoexpect.com, I searched for cravings and aversions while pregnant and found that these both are likely related to pregnancy hormones, which confirms my theory above. My stress hormones were at an all-time high. Add to that increased estrogen, lack of sleep, suppressed immune system (to keep the body from attacking the baby as a bad invader), it’s no surprise some women would turn to – or away – from comfort foods. Over on the website www.parents.com researches also confirm there is truth that the mother’s body may crave what it actually needs. For example, my craving for salty Chinese take out might have been a warning that I needed more sodium during the second trimester, the point when my blood volume was greatly increasing. On the other hand, Dr. Fessler explains the food aversions as being mother nature’s way of protecting the growing baby. My aversion to raw meat may have been linked to the fact that raw meat is linked to food-borne illnesses.
My conclusion? As with everything else I find in life, moderation seems to be the key. There are healthier alternatives to Chinese take out, chocolate and meat that will provide the nutrition & satisfaction needed, but enjoying a craving every once in a while throughout pregnancy likely won’t be detrimental to either mom or baby.
Author Note: This was one of my assignment’s for Nutrition Coaching that I became certified in at the beginning of the year. It was an amazing learning experience for me and part of my year of focusing on the important things in life!
Copyright 2013 Erin Giddens