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What are your food cravings telling you?

Running down the dimly lit corridor she ducks, trying to avoid the man at the end who is hurling her favourite crisps towards her at lightning speed, over and over again. She dodges a crisp and desperately turns into another corridor but there he is again. There is no escaping this crisp throwing nightmare. And then she wakes up. A pregnant friend explained to me that recently she has been having this exact recurring dream. She is pregnant and is desperate for a certain brand of crisp (that will remain nameless here). I am sure that she is not alone and other pregnant women will have similar stories to tell. So why do pregnancy cravings happen?

The honest truth is that no one really knows. Experts believe that there may be three possible causes for these cravings:

  1. Changing hormones
  2. Nutritional deficiencies, such as craving red meat that might indicate a need for protein
  3. Subconscious or buried emotional needs, as pregnancy is an enormous time for change

Many pregnant women admit that they crave sweet, salty or sour food. Experts also advise that within moderation it is fine to indulge their craving within the frame work of a balanced and nutritious diet.

However, if you find that you are overindulging you need to take some action. You could:

  1. talk to your practitioner or midwife to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies.
  2. replace the unhealthy food, such as chocolate, with something healthy like dried fruit.
  3. make sure you have enough emotional support and also examine whether you are worried about the changes that are coming.

There is one exception to the above advice; cravings know as Pica. Pica cravings consist of women wanting to eat substances such as chalk or dirt, even paint and cement in some cases.

These are extremely dangerous to your unborn child and can result in poisoning or affect brain development. It is important that you discuss these cravings with your doctor and work on finding a solution together.