Nobody really knows what causes pregnancy cravings. A number of theories exist, including the one that surmises pregnancy cravings are a result of deficiencies in a woman’s diet. Well I can assure you right here and now that nobody in the developed world has a nutritional deficiency that results in a need for two litres of chocolate cookie dough ice cream. Ever. 🙂
Since all the scientists and doctors have failed to prove any hypotheses regarding the origin of pregnancy cravings, I am going to oh-so-modestly throw my hat in the ring and come up with a theory of my own. My theory (surprise, surprise) has to do with diet, and posits that a Paleo style diet can greatly alleviate cravings during pregnancy.
Almost 18 weeks into my pregnancy, I can honestly say that I haven’t been beset by any overly unrelenting cravings. Sure there have been foods I’ve thought about, foods I’ve wanted, and a few foods I’ve really wanted, but I’ve yet to experience any cravings of the “I-don’t-care-if-it’s-1:00-in-the-morning-I-need-it-and-I-want-it-NOW” ilk. For this, I credit The Paleo Diet, and here’s why:
Willpower. In a world where we are bombarded by junk food everywhere we go, it does take a certain amount of willpower to resist the urge to partake in the office birthday cake, to walk by the box of Timbits without sampling the wares, or to leave the French fries on the plate at the restaurant. Since switching to a Paleo style of eating, I have become very aware of my emotional connections to foods, and have learned that processed and carb-laden foods have both physically and psychologically addictive properties. After cutting such foods out of my diet, I find that when I do relent and “give in” to temptation, the foods are neither as tasty nor as satisfying as I remember them to be. I also find that I often feel ill or uncomfortable after eating these foods. This has, over time, helped me to develop increasingly strong willpower to avoid unhealthy foods. I have certainly had more unhealthy cravings than usual since becoming pregnant, but just like regular cravings, instead of allowing them to take root, I try to think about whether I am truly hungry, and if so, what it actually is that my body needs. With this process, I am largely able to dismiss or redirect the cravings. I suspect that pregnancy food cravings may not truly be much different than regular cravings, but that because society has made it acceptable for pregnant women to indulge their cravings (you know, the whole notion of “eating for two”), they are more likely to do so than they would otherwise be.
Blood sugar. Before I started following the Paleo diet, I used to be hungry constantly. My entire day revolved around making sure that I was prepared to satisfy my hunger at any given time, so as to avoid what I jokingly referred to as my “hangry” episodes. But really, this was not a joke. When I got hungry, it would come on swiftly and forcefully, and I would feel awful until I got food. It affected my judgement and my ability to concentrate and perform tasks. “Hangry” episodes were usually accompanied by intense cravings for sugary or carby foods, which lead me to eventually realize that they were caused by extreme fluctuations in insulin and glucagon (“blood sugar” fluctuations). Since switching to a low-glycemic Paleo diet, I am able to go for hours at a time without feeling hungry, and when hunger does strike, the onset is gradual enough that I have time to seek out or prepare a proper, healthy meal. I also don’t get “hangry” when I stick to strict Paleo. So what does all this have to do with pregnancy cravings? Well, I think that pregnancy cravings may be caused (or at least exacerbated) by blood sugar fluctuations, and that the cycle is then perpetuated by consuming the high-glycemic, carby foods that most women seem to crave. I have definitely noticed that the more junk I eat, the more of it I crave; whereas when I have gone for two to four weeks at a time without any “cheat meals,” I actually have no desire to eat anything other than healthy, whole foods.
4 rounds of:
12 overhead squats (65 lbs)
4 times up and down front stairs (approximately 15 steps)
Time: 12 min 07 sec
10 rounds of:
4 x 10 metres weight plate push across the floor (35 lbs) — this was KILLER on the glutes/hams!
Time: 17 min 19 sec