Symptoms of Early Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Symptoms of early pregnancy – pregnancy food cravings

In my pregnancies I had tons of food aversions and few cravings. I have never had a late-night craving for a pickle or ice cream, or the combo. Instead, I couldn’t stand the smell of chicken or certain vegetables like peppers – So odd. Friends have told me that they’ve thought, “I just found out I’m pregnant, how can I be craving weird foods already?!” Watching pregnant friends around me, I can see just how common these cravings are; and their poor partners, being woken up from sleep to cater to these cravings!

Food cravings in pregnancy

Food cravings are the sudden urge for a particular food. The vast majority of pregnant women experience these cravings at some point during pregnancy. Craving foods is one of the frequent symptoms of early pregnancy.

 

Food aversions in pregnancy

Food aversions are a new sense of repulsion at the very thought of a food previously enjoyed. Most women experience this in pregnancy at least once.

For food aversions, try to avoid the scent or sight of the food. Avoidance is the best strategy. 

What causes pregnancy cravings and aversions?

We suspect that pregnancy hormones play a large role. This is especially true during early pregnancy when the hormone levels are rising rapidly. Some researchers and clinicians think that aversions and cravings guarantee that mom is eating the right things – avoiding foods that are not good for the baby and eating foods that the baby needs. This theory doesn’t explain why weird combinations such as pickles and ice cream may be craved together, though perhaps that pregnant mom requires more salt and calcium in her diet?

 

What can you do about cravings and food aversions?

I don’t think there is much you can do about cravings – most women I know that crave a certain food will not be able to rest till they eat it. So eat that watermelon slice or peanut butter sandwich if you can get your hands on it, but don’t overindulge. Far too many women gain excessive weight during pregnancy, putting mom and baby at risk. Indulge, but ensure you are paying attention to what you are eating and also getting enough exercise. Healthy women should gain 25-30 pounds during the 9 months. Gaining 20 in the first trimester, however, is not wise. Moderation is key.

For food aversions, try to avoid the scent or sight of the food. When my family was eating chicken, I would leave the space and smell a lemon slice, which usually settled my queasy tummy.  Avoidance is the best strategy.

Talk to your doctor or health care provider if you crave non-food substances such as chalk or clay 

If you are plagued with food aversions, try to see to it that you eat at least some foods from each food group to maintain adequate nutrition. I couldn’t stomach chicken, but tofu and eggs were fine, so I got my iron and protein that way. If you are not able to eat much of anything, talk to your doctor about medications and therapies that can help relieve nausea.

Talk to your doctor or health care provider if you crave non-food substances such as chalk or clay. This can signify pica, which causes the craving for non-food substances due to iron deficiency.

Luckily, these pregnancy symptoms are usually short-lived, lasting only till the second trimester for most women. You will likely be back to eating normally within a few short months.

For more on Nutrition & Allergies read this article.

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Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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