Most women will experience at least one pregnancy craving, although some may experience more. A food craving is a sudden desire to eat a certain food. During pregnancy, these could be unusual food combinations (such as salty crisps dipped in chocolate, or pickle and ice cream), or more normal foods.
Pregnancy cravings can happen at any point, but are most common during the first trimester. Many women find that they experience food aversions alongside morning sickness. Some women don’t experience any pregnancy cravings, and that’s normal too.
What causes pregnancy cravings?
The cause of pregnancy cravings remain a mystery, but experts have made some educated guesses. Some believe that the hormonal changes during pregnancy can impact upon taste and smell. This could explain the food aversions and cravings associated with pregnancy.
What do pregnancy cravings mean?
Some experts believe that pregnancy cravings can be attributed to the nutritional needs of the body during specific times of the pregnancy. Some food cravings can be a warning sign of an underlying problems. For example, craving non-food substances such as petrol (gasoline), paint chips and soil, could be a symptom of iron deficiency. Currently, not enough research has been done in this area to determine the causes of pregnancy cravings.
Are pregnancy cravings important?
If you’re a dad-to-be reading this in the supermarket on a 3am emergency trip to get mint chocolate soy ice cream, yes. But in reality, it is not known whether pregnancy cravings are important. Experts advise you to listen to your healthy cravings – if you crave a huge bowl of fruit salad every day, go for it. If your cravings are less than wholesome, however, they advise creating alternatives for the foods you want. It would be difficult to justify eating a whole tub of high-fat neapolitan ice cream every evening, but perhaps you could switch it for a homemade milkshake made with fresh strawberries?
Popular pregnancy cravings
There are a number of foods that seem to be a hit with most pregnant women, for example:
- ice cubes/ice lollies – a lot of women report craving ice lollies, icy cold drinks or crunching on ice cubes during pregnancy. This could be related to the raised body temperature of pregnant women, or the necessary increased water intake.
- sweet foods – chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and cake are popular cravings amongst pregnant women. This craving for sweet food could be met by eating a variety of sweet fruits. Try adding more fruit to your diet to see if that reduces your craving for high-fat sugary foods. Craving sugary foods could also be caused by a drop in blood sugar, you can avoid this by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.
- salty foods – some women report craving salty foods such as crisps, chips and other savoury snacks. It’s ok to give into your cravings every so often, however you should be wary of the amount of sodium in your diet. You can use smartphone apps to record your food intake, and these will calculate your daily salt intake.
- spicy foods – mexican and indian cuisines are both popular food cravings amongst pregnant women. Some women find that their tolerance to spicy food increases during pregnancy, so where they may previously have ordered kormas, they find themselves eating vindaloos. The amniotic fluid in your uterus changes flavour depending on what you’ve eaten, so your baby will be enjoying new tastes as you tuck into your madras.
- citrus fruits – some women report craving the sour tastes of citrus fruits during pregnancy. From drinking lemon water, to eating whole limes, some women can’t get enough of sour flavours.
If you are craving non-food items such as mud, plaster or bath sponge, contact your healthcare provider. This can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
Are you experiencing any weird cravings during pregnancy?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.