Understanding Pregnancy Changes: How Nutrition Plays a Vital Role for Expectant Mothers

Understanding Pregnancy Changes: How Nutrition Plays a Vital Role for Expectant Mothers

The journey of pregnancy brings with it a range of changes, including the mysterious phenomenon of cravings. 

Pregnancy cravings are the sudden and usually irresistible urges to eat certain foods, flavours and textures, often in interesting pairings like the famous pickles and ice-cream. On the other hand, you may find yourself disinterested in foods that were once your favourites. Cravings usually appear during the first trimester and peak during the second, although some expecting mothers may not experience any changes at all.  

Courtesy of Pampers, here are the top 10 pregnancy cravings in the UK: 

  • Chocolate
  • Fruit
  • Ice Lollies
  • Cake
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Ice cream
  • Spicy food
  • Biscuits
  • Desserts
  • Chips

What causes pregnancy cravings

It is thought that cravings stem from the heightened sense of taste and smell, altered by the pregnancy hormones. Super high levels of oestrogen, along with other hormones can interfere with appetite signals sent to the brain, resulting in dramatically increased hunger levels. This triggers incredibly powerful reactions in the expecting mother, either towards or away from certain tastes or textures. 

There is also evidence to suggest that cravings are a way for the body to urgently respond to nutrient deficiencies, such as fruit when low on vitamins. As the mother effectively needs to “Eat for Two”, her body is adjusting to the increased need in nutrient intake, to support the developing baby.

Dehydration can also play a part in this, particularly in relation to craving fast food, with high levels of salt and carbohydrates that are great for retaining fluid. It’s vitally important to make sure that you are well hydrated, at all times, but particularly over the course of a pregnancy.  

Pregnancy is also an enormous undertaking for anyone, and so can bring about high levels of stress, as well as joy. These heightened emotional states can also trigger cravings for ‘comfort foods’, foods that help us to feel better in the moment, like a tub of ice-cream or a pack of doughnuts. 

Managing Cravings for Longer-Term Wellness

As every mother is different, so is every set of cravings. You may find yourself craving copious amounts of salad, fresh fruit and vegetables, or other healthy food groups. But equally, cravings of sweet treats, fast food and processed sugars might be common in your pregnancy journey. It is important to make sure that you are maintaining good dietary habits where possible, and not over-indulging in cravings that might not serve you later down the line. 

This will help to keep both you and your growing baby in good health, full of all the necessary vitamins and minerals which are vital for your wellbeing. 

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