Do Cravings During Pregnancy Mean Something?

by Kate Timberland
(NY)

Question:

Whenever I tell anyone about a craving I'm having during pregnancy, they either say a) I've had that before or b) that means you need to eat meat! I know they're just teasing, but is there a chance that my cravings mean I'm missing something in my diet? Do cravings during pregnancy mean something?

Answer:

Ah yes, vegan pregnancy and the need for other people to assess and attack it. Just keep in mind that you're doing the best you can for your baby, and hopefully that keeps those negative comments at bay.

As far as cravings and what they mean, some doctors believe they mean you might be lacking something in your diet, and others say there is no scientific evidence to support that claim.

What I think makes sense is to keep track of what you crave and what time of day you typically crave it, and also what you've already eaten that day. If you keep a food diary (I know; it's really annoying, but it can be helpful), you might be able to see a pattern for these cravings. Maybe you always want something sweet around 3pm on days when you start the day with cereal instead of oatmeal. Or maybe you want salty snacks at night on days when you've had almost no salty things throughout the day.

The best thing you can do to stop cravings is to avoid them before they come up. It's really important not to skip meals when you're pregnant. Breakfast is crucial because it jumpstarts your metabolism and keeps your energy levels in tune. Try to eat every few hours, and keep healthy snacks in your purse everywhere you go. Also, exercise will help keep your body moving properly, so try to move around each day.

Also, when you experience cravings for sweet things, I recommend trying to satiate that craving with a healthy sweet, like some berries, an apple, a banana, or some other sweet fruit. You could make a fruit smoothie or juice up a bunch of great fruits and vegetables. Often the carbohydrates and sugar in a piece of fruit with satisfy the craving for something sweet and you can step away feeling like you've done your baby proud.

If you crave salty things, you might try adding some healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. It can be easy on a vegan diet to accidentally not eat enough fat, and that can lead to cravings. Try flax seeds, flax oil, and avocados for good fatty acids.

You also might start to feel more cravings when you're experiencing dehydration. If eating a piece of healthy food doesn't quite do the trick, try drinking a glass of water. Something when we're thirsty we can start to feel like we're actually hungry, and that can kick into high gear the cravings.

If drinking water and having fruit doesn't quell the craving, it's okay to give into it. Have a cookie or two; just don't eat the whole bag! And, try to use sugar sources that have a lower glycemic index (brown rice syrup, molasses, pure maple syrup, malt syrup) so your blood sugar won't spike as much, which makes you feel awful afterward. Be sensible and take it slowly, and you'll probably find that you can satisfy the urge pretty quickly without taking down a carton of coconut ice cream.

Another way to avoid the cravings is to avoid going shopping when you're hungry. You'll be much more likely to think you're having cravings when you're walking up and down aisles full of food, both healthy and junk foods.




When Cravings Mean Something


If you have constant cravings for certain foods, and you cannot figure out where they are coming from or why you're always having them, there might be a medical reason behind it.

Chocolate:
Some holistic doctors believe that having a constant chocolate craving might mean you need to eat more magnesium. Others say chocolate cravings come from a shortage in the B vitamins. Luckily, there is no shortage of magnesium and B vitamins in a healthy vegan diet. You can find magnesium in whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts, and leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, and collard greens. There are tons of B complex vitamins in all whole grains, bananas, lentils, potatoes, beans, peppers, tempeh, molasses, and nutritional yeast.

Red Meat:
This may seem like an obvious one, but if you are having cravings for red meat, it might be your body telling you it needs more protein. This is a pretty easy solution, just ramp up your protein intake. We have a whole page dedicated to vegan protein.

Peaches:
If you're craving peaches, you might need to eat more beta carotene. You can find beta carotene in virtually every orange fruit or vegetable, including pumpkin, carrots, butternut squash, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, and nectarines.


Women who crave things like ice, dirt, chalk, toilet paper, lint, or other indigestible foods have a condition called pica and are most likely suffering from an iron deficiency.




Interesting Facts about What Cravings Mean During Pregnancy


  • What's interesting is that some studies find that if you are having food aversions, you are more likely to have food cravings.
  • What you eat the most of when you're pregnant and lactating might also be what your child craves when s/he begins to eat solid foods. Eat as much variety as you can!

Comments for Do Cravings During Pregnancy Mean Something?

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May 13, 2015
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Need help before I eat cheese!
by: Brooke

I need some immediate vegan inspiration. I was a hardcore raw vegan before I became pregnant. Now that I am pregnant, I am craving cheese and meat. I am starting to talk myself into eating cheese every once in awhile. I need some good encouragement or advice if you have any please! Any would be much appreciated before I start eating cheese!

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