Here's to Pickles and Ice Cream
Enjoy the Ride, but Only Around the Block continued...
"If you eat whatever tastes good, pretty soon you could be
400 pounds," says Bruce Bagley, MD, a family-practice physician in Latham,
N.Y. "Make sure you have a balanced diet, and then if you feel like eating
ice cream, go ahead, but within a reasonable calorie range."
Women should consume only about 300 more calories than usual
per day during pregnancy. That should include one extra serving of milk or
dairy for calcium and about 10 additional grams of protein. Fats should remain
at 30% or less of total calories.
A more serious condition related to cravings is "pica"
-- an urge to eat non-nutritive substances like dirt, chalk, clay, or even
toilet paper and laundry starch. There's evidence of these bizarre cravings as
far back as ancient civilizations, when people used such substances to quell
"Most of those substances aren't harmful per se, as long as
the patient is eating, too. Nutrition is the issue," says. Ronald Chez, MD,
professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida.
Women are often reluctant to confess such cravings, but discussing them with a
doctor or midwife can help assess any nutritional problems.
Chocolates, Blueberries, and Those Pesky 'Momisms'
Is there any rhyme or reason to what you'll reach for? Ward
says fatty, sugary, or salty foods are the most common -- hence the pickles and
ice cream. Particularly in the first trimester, they may be the only foods you
can keep down, and since morning sickness is worse on an empty stomach,
cravings may be a protective device to stay full.
But that doesn't mean cravings are your body's way of screaming
for foods it needs, experts say. That may be an eye-opener for those of us
raised by mothers who took every opportunity to point out that our bodies
must be deficient in a food we're craving -- proof that we're not eating
right, or enough.
Niebyl says an example commonly used to disprove that old
wives' tale is the urge to eat ice cubes, which is often associated with
anemia. "That doesn't help the iron deficiency. They need to be eating
iron-containing foods." One exception to the rule, however, may be salty
foods. The body needs a little more sodium [salt] to balance the extra fluid
volume during pregnancy, although the normal diet usually includes enough, adds
There's also no scientific evidence that what you crave during
pregnancy will become one of your child's favorites. Anne Pike, a mother of
four who lives in Evanston, Ill., says she ate tons of blueberries during her
first pregnancy, and sure enough, by the time David was 1, he already showed an
affinity for them. "He loved them as a baby, couldn't get enough of
them," she says. With her second, she craved hot dogs, and her daughter,
Sara, loves those.