Doctor, doctor: A craving for sweets, and smoking during pregnancy

My husband and I have never wanted sweets or puddings, and only rarely eat chocolate, but now, in our mid-70s, for some reason we have started to want pudding after every meal. Why might this be?
Have you recently become less physically active than you were? It's counterintuitive, but also true, that when people become less physically active, they tend to eat more. Physical activity actually curbs appetite; conversely, people who become less active may not find that they are necessarily hungrier, but they do begin to eat more. So if you have recently curbed your physical activities, that alone may have led to your new appetites, which are more satisfied by sweet than by savoury dishes. There's an extra possible complication, though: if you have put on weight recently, your craving for sweet things may mean that your blood sugar/insulin balance isn't as good as it was. In fact, you may be drifting towards type 2 diabetes. So please see your doctor and talk about your new desire for sweet foods. A simple blood test will either confirm or rule out your diabetes risk.

My daughter-in-law plans to get pregnant and wants to give up smoking. She has never managed to quit in the past, because she finds it so stressful. Friends have said that the occasional cigarette in pregnancy would be less harmful than the extreme anxiety it would cause her. How can I support her?
Most important is for her to come to terms with all the health hazards that smoking poses, not just in pregnancy, but for herself as a young woman. That she still smokes suggests she hasn't done that yet. The best way to do so is to ask for a long appointment with her doctor, who will put the facts before her. I've found most people, when faced with the data on the harm tobacco does, find it extremely helpful in deciding to stop. Then she should accept guidance on the best way to quit. It will probably involve nicotine replacement therapy – often skin patches – but the most important thing is to have regular meetings with a health centre staff member trained in smoking cessation. It won't be as bad as she fears. Twelve million Britons have stopped – she isn't alone.

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