Food Cravings, Aversions and ‘Pica’

It can be common for women to experience food cravings and aversions during pregnancy. The exact reason for food cravings and aversions is not scientifically known but it is thought to be associated with a change in hormonal levels that occur during pregnancy which can intensify your sense of smell and subsequently your desire for certain foods.

Typical aversions include tea, coffee, fried foods and eggs in early pregnancy and sweeter foods in late pregnancy. In terms of cravings, there is no real pattern to the types of foods that are craved and they are usually ones where previously there was no particular desire for. Cravings are nothing to get worried about but if they are for high sugar or high fat foods it is important that you try to control your cravings. If you have to give in, choose the lower fat or lower sugar option of the food. For example, if it’s ice cream you crave, try choosing low fat frozen yoghurt instead. If it’s a bag of crisps, choose the lower fat, baked version. If it’s a type of chocolate bar, choose a fun-size bar as opposed to the larger ones.

Sometimes pregnant women can start to crave bizarre items that aren’t even foods, e.g. coal, carpet, clay, ice, or rocks. This is known as ‘pica’. Again the reasons for such cravings are poorly understood but one hypothesis is a deficiency in minerals such as iron. This has not been proven by enough research however. It’s important not to give in to such cravings as such items can contain toxins that may be harmful to your baby.

First 1000 Days Team

Our expert team of dietitians and nutritionists have created lots of articles, tips, advice and recipes all about the importance of good nutrition to help you give your baby the healthiest possible start in life.

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