13 weeks: Deconstructing craving

Food cravings are commonly found among pregnant women. Not all of them have it, but many certainly do so. If you think about it, actually not only pregnant women have cravings. Sometimes we also crave for certain food (I want KFC..), but somehow it is more associated to pregnant women. And, since we still couldn’t explain food cravings scientifically anyway (a few papers on taste perceptions during pregnancy: [1][2][3][4]), let me tell our own story about it.

Cint does not really have craving for a particular food. What she does develop is inability to eat certain foods. Since the (still ongoing) attack of nausea from the early weeks of her pregnancy, she liked to think about food in terms of whether it will induce more nausea or not. Thus she tried to avoid eating ‘bland’/taste-less foods as much as possible. White rice is the major victim of this policy. I couldn’t really recall the last time we ate rice for dinner. If she wants to eat rice, it’d better be some kind of fried/seasoned rice. Correspondingly, foods with ‘strong’ taste would be better and more edible (e.g., really sweet, really sour). That’s why it’s more appropriate to say that she has food aversions now instead of food cravings.

Frequency of eating a certain food also matters. If she has been eating a certain food quite often, she would develop a resistance to it, as she would associate the food with ‘common’ sensation and commonality means more nausea. So, what we would do is to rotate the food so that it would not get into the resistant zone (much like managing a football team, eh?). It’s all in the head, perhaps, but I think it explains why food cravings are also associated with non-common (or even exotic) foods, since such foods would not be in the resistant zone yet.

So, while I do think that there might be some changes of taste perceptions during pregnancy, I also think that there might be some placebo effect going on here, particularly among cultures where the ‘tradition’ of food cravings is going really strong, where every single father mother in town will tell you that you are going to have food cravings when you are pregnant. A perhaps interesting study to do is to have two groups of expectant mothers, where one group is going to be the ‘negative’ group, to whom you would say that they are NOT going to have food cravings, and another group to be the ‘positive’ group, to whom you would say that they are going to have food cravings. It will be really interesting to compare the rate of food cravings between the two groups and to see whether there will be a significant difference among them.

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