You may have already heard about women craving for a particular type of food during pregnancy. These cravings may either be typical everyday foods or an unusual combination of food items. During my pregnancy, I particularly craved tuna sandwiches with lettuce and lots of mustard. As strange as it may sound, I really found it hard to ignore those weird cravings. My food cravings were so strong that I even had those sandwiches in place of healthier meals.

Pregnancy brings about many changes in a woman’s body, which are necessary so that an unborn child can thrive inside the womb. Among these changes is the increase of hormones, which can alter a woman’s taste and smell. This explains why pregnant women may suddenly have such strong reactions to some foods and odors. In contrast, some pregnant women may also find some foods more appealing than ever before.

While we normally don’t eat foods with such contrasting flavors, pregnant women may find the urge to be so powerful, that they really can’t seem to resist these cravings. Common pregnancy cravings include sweet, spicy, salty, and occasionally sour food items.

Pregnant women can have strange cravings like ice cream with pickles, or even just pickles with everything else. Although these cravings may seem odd, it’s not really harmful especially when the cravings are particularly on food, and when it is properly handled.

Although the reason behind food cravings is not really clear, many experts believe that it is the body’s way of indicating a lack of a particular nutrient. If you feel a burning need to consume a tall glass of milkshake, it may be your body’s way of asking more calcium or fat.

These food cravings are actually normal, but pregnant women should learn how to deal with these cravings, so that proper nutrition is still maintained. It is important for a pregnant woman to clearly know her limits in terms of overindulging, especially when the cravings are particularly on food items that have little, or no nutritional value. If these cravings go out of hand, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies for both mother and child. Furthermore, it may also lead to a string of pregnancy risks and problems caused by inappropriate weight gain.

When giving in to these cravings, it is important to recognize that there are limits to these indulgences, and there are also healthier alternatives to satisfy unhealthy cravings. If you suddenly crave ice cream, try to identify whether you want something cold, sweet, or fruity. If you can understand what you are craving for, it may be easier to think of healthier substitutes. Perhaps you can satisfy your craving with a serving of yogurt, which is way healthier than premium ice cream.

It can be easy to give in to these cravings especially when you feel that pregnancy is actually a time of guilt-free indulgence. However, good nutrition plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy. And it is very important for women to try to eat well-balanced meals, to support the needs of the growing baby.

Before you open a bag of tempting potato chips, try to think about what you really want from it. If you just want something salty, try to have popcorn instead. If you feel the urge to have a piece or two of sugar-laden pastry, try to choose the healthier option of whole-grain bagel or bread with fruit jam. By substituting these unhealthy food cravings with something more nutritious, you can still satisfy your cravings without compromising your health.

However, there are rare instances when a pregnant woman may suddenly crave non-food items like dirt, crayons, clay, laundry starch, and many other items that aren’t really safe to ingest. These bizarre cravings are known as pica, which are potentially harmful to both mother and child. If you have these cravings, consult your doctor immediately.

Pregnancy is indeed a time of change, and while we cannot control certain physical changes from occurring, it helps to know that we still have the ability to handle these overwhelming cravings. When you find yourself eating a small bag of potato chips, try not to feel guilty about it, and take it as a learning experience. And when you get similar cravings the next time around, perhaps you already know what to do.