Everyone knows a few old wives’ tales about pregnancy. Having a pet cat could kill you; indulging in certain cravings will create a happier baby; a full moon may induce labor, etc. Many of these myths have something to do with the almost-certain crazy food cravings you’ll have, which in turn will make you force your husband into going down to the 7-11 to buy Twinkies and a Big Gulp at 3 a.m.
Fortunately, “myths” are exactly what many of these beliefs turn out to be. And simply because you’re pregnant, you do not have license to go hog-wild and eat anything that’s not tied down. So put down that pizza topped with Cheetos and let’s take a look at five of the most well-known myths regarding pregnancy cravings and weight gain.
Myth #1: Cravings Are a Sign of Nutritional Deficiencies
It’s true that a craving is a normal human mechanism that allows the body to replenish missing nutrients, such as making you want red meat when you are low on protein or pasta when you need carbohydrates. But that’s not the only reason behind them. In fact, many cravings are a result of emotional ties to certain foods and hormonal changes that take place once a particular food is consumed.
For example, if you had a favorite meal as a youngster that you didn’t eat much of in your adult life, you may find yourself craving it much more once your hormone levels spike during pregnancy. Just because you are craving sugary foods, however, doesn’t mean that you need sugar. You may just have a sweet tooth!
Myth #2: All Cravings Are Unhealthy
Not everyone craves ham, cheese, and bacon fat sandwiches with fried chicken serving as the bread. It’s actually quite common to want fruits, vegetables, and mostly-healthy cereals with some nice, cold milk. While many women may crave comfort foods such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits or brownies, many others just want to eat something refreshing like watermelon, grapes, or pineapple.
Myth #3: Gain All the Weight You Want, It’ll Fall Off!
This myth tends to cause many mothers’ dreams to fall short of their expectations. Too often we see a mother-to-be happily indulging in whatever food comes to mind, while thinking that all of that “baby fat” will magically fall off once the baby is born and she begins nursing. The celebrities do that, don’t they?
Well, not quite. Just like regular fat, the fat that sticks to you during pregnancy will continue to be with you after the baby’s birth. The only way to get rid of it is through regular exercise and healthy eating . . . which may sound somewhat unreasonable given that you’ve just spent nine months developing a baby, went through labor, and now have to spend countless sleepless nights caring for your new bundle of joy.
Myth #4: Everyone Craves Pickles and Ice Cream
For some reason, pickles and ice cream are the two foods that pop into anyone’s mind when the words “pregnancy” and “cravings” are put together. Everyone has different tastes, and no one woman will have exactly the same cravings as everyone else. Those women who do crave pickles may be lacking salt or minerals in their bodies; and ice cream is a well-known “comfort food,” which explains why so many actively seek it out when they need to eat without reason. For as many women who crave pickles or ice cream, you’ll find just as many craving almonds, avocados, spaghetti, apples, or any other food.
Myth #5: You Have to Eat More, You’re Eating for Two!
This may have been true in the past, but Americans today don’t need any motivation to eat more than they already do. In past generations, babies weighed an average of a mere six pounds; but modern babies are weighing in excess of eight pounds. The ever-growing obesity epidemic is already evidence of us eating much more than we need. So using the excuse that you need to eat even more because you have a tiny fetus inside of you is just that: an excuse to eat more.
In all truth, if women today continued their same pre-pregnancy eating habits into pregnancy, they would still gain an appropriate amount of weight within the doctor’s recommended guidelines, while avoiding excessive fat and the chance to develop unhealthy eating habits.
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“The Myths and Facts about Pregnancy.” DrPhil.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2012. https://www.drphil.com/articles/article/288/.
Peters O’Brien, Lisa. “10 Pregnancy Myths.” Parenting.com. Parenting Magazine, n.d. Web. 23 July 2012. https://www.parenting.com/article/10-pregnancy-myths?page=0,1&%3Bsrc=syn&%3Bdom=cnnhealth&%3Blnk=rss.
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