Most women have a strong craving for certain foods during their pregnancy and what foods to eat can be confusing. This is due to the change in hormone balance in her body, an intense sense of smell and taste accompany this change. Although food cravings are real, most of the foods consumed are common everyday items, like fresh fruit, or raw vegetables, and sometimes a desire for foods that one hardly ever eats at all. In most cases if the chosen food is healthy and within your doctor’s prescribed diet, it is perfectly acceptable to indulge.
Reasons for these cravings, which can be mild or wild, are not really understood, though there is some speculation the body is craving an essential nutrient the pregnant woman may be lacking. On the other side of the coin there is a condition known as pica, when women crave unusual items that lack nutritional value like crayons, or dirt or ice, some of which may harm the mother and/or the fetus.
There is also the aversion of certain foods that women in their early months of pregnancy experience. This is generally due to morning sickness, the vomiting and nausea presents an adverse response to certain foods and sometimes certain odors. This smell and taste association causes some women to avoid certain types of food. Many of these cravings tend to disappear as labor approaches and are gone after giving birth.
What to eat was not a problem for some children of pregnant women who indulged their cravings for certain foods. For example, a mother who had a difficult time controlling her desire for chocolate had a child who later declared it as their favorite sweet food.
For women who are wondering what they should eat during pregnancy the U.DS. Department of Agriculture has a free diet-tracking program called Super Tracker, on their website choosemyplate.gov. By filling out a few queries about age, height, weight, sex, and physical activity, a prescribed amount of food to eat is listed in five food groups; vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy foods and protein foods. Following this regimen may help control pregnancy food cravings and simplify what foods to eat.
One possible problem area for pregnant women is a disease called listeriosis. This makes it important to change some food preparation and consumption regimens. Listeriosis is a contamination of foods and can cause flu-like symptoms, lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and/or premature delivery of the child. Lunch meats, cold cuts and hot dogs need to be steamed before eating and unpasteurized milk and foods prepared with it should be avoided.
Certain types of raw meat should be avoided, sushi, meat spreads raw seafood, undercooked seafood, smoked seafood and raw or undercooked meat and eggs should not be ingested during pregnancy. Canned food like tuna and salmon are alright, but smoked seafood that has been refrigerated needs to be heated before being served again.
One of the long-standing myths of pregnancy is the old saying about eating for two. An average caloric intake is around 1800-2000 calories. A fetus probably isn’t going to need its own equal amount of calories. The real need for a baby in the womb is proper nutrition. Adding calories by about 300 more is considered normal. Excess weight gain during pregnancy may lead to other health issues. Stick to a doctor’s recommended diet and eat three times a day. Raw vegetables, fruits and plenty of greens are always good choices. When the last months of a pregnancy come into view, most cravings have fallen away and what to eat is no longer an issue.
By Andy Towle