Cravings, Are They For Real?

mmmmIf you have just snacked on a sardine and syrup sandwich and you are starting to wonder if your taste buds have gone haywire – you are more than likely pregnant and there is no cause for alarm. Strange and even bizarre food cravings are very real and within a few months, your sense of taste will return to normal.


Eat and be merry – you are pregnant

The most common food cravings are the desire for foods which are either salty (chips, pickles, etc.) or the sweet variety (chocolates, pancakes, ice-cream) and rather than denying yourself that slice of chocolate cake with an extra sprinkle of cherries- enjoy it, but try to limit yourself to just one slice. Food cravings are a very natural response and the cravings can be put down to the changing hormones and the fact that the baby is growing at such a rapid rate so the mother needs to replenish stores – quickly, hence the urgency to devour that decadent three-layer cheese burger with all the trimmings.

In addition to the regular food cravings, there are times when a pregnant woman will look at a very strange object with the same gusto. These unusual cravings are linked to a deficiency of a nutrient and these odd cravings include a need to snack on dirt (especially mine-dump sand!), chalk and ice. These bizarre cravings are almost certainly an indication that the woman is lacking in iron, and is often referred to as -pica’. Iron is critically important to the human body and when pregnant, a woman’s iron stores can become quickly depleted. To replenish iron stores, without having to snack on ice – the pregnant lady could rather enjoy a meal which is high in iron, like liver. If these cravings are not satisfied, this needs to be brought up with the healthcare provider who will recommend a supplement.


Stranger cravings

Other than the need to snack on mine-dump sand (common for women in Johannesburg), the other bizarre -snack’ cravings that have been reported by pregnant women include coffee grounds, plaster, toothpaste and even paint chips. These odd cravings may also be an indication (and usually are) that the woman is deficient in a certain mineral, such as iron. These -foods’ are without a doubt, not good and should be avoided at all costs and women will need to bring up these very strange cravings at their prenatal visits. Unlike the sardine and syrup craving – these strange food groups should not be indulged it, no matter how good the tube of toothpaste is looking!

Strangely enough many of the -regular’ food cravings are foods which are not usually enjoyed by the expectant mom and after giving birth, she will usually revert back to her dislike of Rooibos tea, pickles and cheese or bananas with mayonnaise! There is no harm giving into the cravings, but try to limit the intake of foods which contain high volumes of sugar and which are particularly fatty! No harm will be done by the strange concoctions and usually the burning need (like your life depends on it) to eat a tub of cream cheese or two Magnum ice-creams in one sitting, is just your body’s way of telling you exactly what it needs. Experiencing these cravings late at night or early in the morning, is normal – so prepare your partner and remind him not to be too upset if he comes home after his one-in-the-morning outing to look for a chicken mayonnaise toasted sandwich (with pickles), and you are sound asleep!

As hormones take over during pregnancy, the food cravings may become strangely -off-putting’ and ladies, it will do little good to try and coax your partner into joining you for a snack of chocolate ice-cream and green pickled onions. Bon Appetite!


 – Kathy Baron


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