When you’re pregnant, family, friends and even strangers love to predict your baby’s gender. There are plenty of old wives’ tales that look at things like whether your baby bump is high or low, when you experienced morning sickness, and even the shininess of your hair. A quick google search will bring up lots of results around how your cravings will change depending on whether you’re pregnant with a boy or a girl, and that is what I’m going to focus on in this blog. So, are there really any hidden meanings to your pregnancy cravings?
What do cravings indicate about gender?
For generations stories have circulated that if you pay attention to your pregnancy cravings, you’ll be able to determine the gender of your bub. It’s said that if you’re craving sweet foods like chocolate, fruit and dairy, you’ve got a girl on the way. If you feel like you can’t get enough salty foods, such as chips or pizza, expect a boy! Although that might be what your grandmother told you, what does the research say?
Well, not a whole lot! Whilst a couple of studies have been conducted to interview women about the cravings they experienced and their thoughts about what it means, there has been no reliable research into a potential link between food cravings and gender prediction. That’s not to say that your cravings are meaningless but if you’re keen to know your baby’s gender, you’re probably best to book in for an ultrasound, which are 99 to 100% accurate after the 16th week.
One interesting study of women in their 2nd trimester of pregnancy found that 13% believed they knew their baby’s gender based upon their food cravings. Whilst more women in the study wished for a girl, mother’s who had university degrees were more likely to wish for a boy. Although the researchers didn’t follow the Mum’s through until they gave birth, so we have no idea whether or not these women were correct or not in their predictions, we do know that many more women crave salty foods during pregnancy, than sweet foods…so if we were relying on food cravings, we’d expect a lot more baby boys than we currently see!
What causes cravings?
Despite around three-quarters of women experiencing them, we still don’t have a definitive reason why cravings exist. However, most health care professionals believe that they are most likely the result of hormonal changes or nutritional deficiencies.
Pregnancy and hormones go hand in hand and they can cause some crazy things to happen to your body. If you’re experiencing morning sickness, you’ve probably noticed an altered sense of taste and smell that may be the result of hormones – for example, you used to love a plate of scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning, but now just the thought of it makes your stomach turn! The same thing occurs in terms of your pregnancy cravings, which is why you might find yourself obsessing over foods you never even liked before. Hormonal changes can also wreak havoc on your emotions, so cravings for fatty comfort foods may be some emotional eating coming into play.
Nutrient deficiencies are another logical explanation, to ensure that you and your baby are getting everything you need for a healthy pregnancy. Cravings for particular foods may be your body’s way of telling you where your nutritional gaps are. For example, if you suddenly find that you would kill for a steak, you may be lacking in iron. Another common craving is salty foods, which may be your body suggesting that you need to drink more water, as salt helps to make you more thirsty and helps your body to retain more fluid. So, make sure you’re eating a varied diet full of fresh veggies, fruits and healthy fats to make sure you are getting all the nutrition your body needs.
How to manage cravings?
Whether you’re craving salty foods or sweet, I’ve got a couple of healthy ideas for you so that you can satisfy your cravings and boost your nutrient intake at the same time.
If you’ve developed a sweet tooth, instead of reaching for a tub of ice cream, try:
- Some Greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of honey
- A drizzle of chocolate sauce over fresh fruit
- Or, some frozen berries.
If salty is more your thing at the moment, try:
- Making some popcorn at home and controlling the added salt
- Adding some olives to a salad
- Or having some slices of apple and cheddar cheese as a snack.
So to summarise everything we’ve talked about today….
- There is currently not enough evidence to indicate a link between your pregnancy cravings and gender.
- Although they won’t help much with predicting the gender of your bub, your cravings may be able to give you a little bit of insight into the nutrients that need to be increased, and
- Eating a balanced diet full of nutrient-dense foods will make sure that your little one is developing properly and might just keep some of your cravings at bay.
If you’re needing some extra ideas about how to balance your pregnancy diet and keep cravings at bay, I’d love for you to download my free pregnancy meal plan here and if you’ve got any questions about your cravings, feel free to ask me in the comments section below….
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