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Pregnancy Craving: Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Pickles and Other Kinds of Food?

Pregnancy Craving: Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Pickles and Other Kinds of Food?

Weird pregnancy cravings: the source of thousands of jokes and many late-night trips to the grocery store. The most stereotypical pregnancy craving is pickles and ice cream, but pregnant women have reported craving just about any kind of food you can think of. Around half of pregnant women in the U.S. have at least one craving, which can be as standard as the pickles and ice cream cliché, or as strange as eggplant or Cheese Whiz [1] sandwiches. Other foods become repulsive to moms-to-be—sometimes food they loved before pregnancy.

Why do pregnant women crave pickles and other kinds of food?

These cravings and aversions occur for a specific reason—the influx of hormones [2] can cause both biological and neurobiological imbalances. Pregnancy hormones impact a woman’s senses of taste and smell, which can cause major shifts in what she wants to eat. Some scientists also believe that some food cravings can indicate a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. The bottom line though? It’s not totally clear why women have cravings and aversions during pregnancy.

Although many women give into their cravings with no problems, food cravings can become severe, causing problems during pregnancy. In these cases, neurocounseling can be effective [3] for reducing or eliminating cravings.

Incorporate cravings into a pregnancy diet for healthy fetal development

Interestingly, some experts have noticed that cravings often change during different stages of pregnancy [4]. For example, many women start becoming hypersensitive to bitterness during the first two trimesters—possibly to prevent the consumption of harmful substances during fetal development.

It’s important to incorporate cravings into a pregnancy diet, since they can be an indication of what the mother or baby needs for healthy development. The catch is that many of these cravings consist of junk food, which should be limited during pregnancy. Too much junk food won’t help the baby’s development, and may cause excess weight gain. Balancing unhealthy cravings with a healthy diet (and healthy cravings) is key for a healthy pregnancy.

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Coming up with alternatives for unhealthy cravings is a good way to ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need without compromising your health. Of course, every once in a while, nothing will do but the specific food you’re craving, and it’s okay to indulge once in a while, as long as it won’t be directly harmful to the baby.

10 Common cravings pregnant women have

1. Chocolate

    One of the most-craved foods among pregnant women is chocolate. Some believe that this is due to an increased caloric need during pregnancy. Research shows that it’s also the most-craved food [5] in the United States. While indulging in a chocolate craving isn’t harmful, it’s better to choose dark chocolate and limit the amount.

    2. Milk & Ice Cream

      Dairy connects to an increased need for calcium during pregnancy. Ice cream is an especially powerful craving, because it is sweet and caloric. If you’re eating too much ice cream, try these recipes [6] for chia pudding for a healthier alternative.

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      3. Steak Fat/Red Meat

        Because of the iron, protein, and vitamin B6 contained in red meat, many women crave steak [7], specifically steak fat during pregnancy. This can be very distressing for vegetarian and vegan women, but some have successfully overcome this craving with daily massages—a treatment that can also help address postpartum depression [8].

        4. Pickles

          Salty pickles are the quintessential pregnancy craving among American women. A greater volume of blood during pregnancy can explain a desire for salty foods, as this increases sodium requirements.

          5. Spicy Food

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            Some women develop strong cravings for spicy food during pregnancy, which is thought to be tied to perspiration. Spicy food can help the body release sweat [9], cooling the expectant mother down.

            6. Fruit

              Fruit is both sweet and nutrient-rich (including vitamin C). Fortunately, this craving is okay to indulge in on a daily basis, preferably using fresh, whole fruit, or cut up into a fruit salad.

              7. Potato Chips

                Just like pickles, potato chips can be a powerful craving because of their salt content. They should be limited during pregnancy because they are quite unhealthy.

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                8. Eggs

                  A need for protein could explain the common craving for eggs, which also contain iron, phosphorous, and B-vitamins. Eggs are a healthy protein choice for women, but should be prepared with hard-cooked yolks to avoid the risk of salmonella. Hard-boiled is a good choice.

                  9. Lemons

                    Specific cravings for tart foods [10] like lemons are more common during the second and third trimester. It’s thought to be linked to both “shocking” the tastebuds, and encouraging a more varied diet. Luckily, lemons can be added to many recipes or just plain water, adding a healthy dose of vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.

                    10. Peanut Butter

                      Peanut butter is a good source of B vitamins and protein, which could explain why this is a common pregnancy craving. Natural peanut butter contains no added sugar, and pairs well with apples.

                      Reference

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                      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                      1. Work on the small tasks.

                      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                      2. Take a break from your work desk.

                      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                      3. Upgrade yourself

                      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                      4. Talk to a friend.

                      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                      7. Read a book (or blog).

                      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                      8. Have a quick nap.

                      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                      9. Remember why you are doing this.

                      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                      10. Find some competition.

                      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                      11. Go exercise.

                      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                      12. Take a good break.

                      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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