Pregnancy Cravings and Aversions

Pregnancy cravings may conjure up the image of eating pickles with a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night. And this may be you . . . or you may experience some very different food cravings during pregnancy, as each expectant mom is unique. You might find yourself repulsed by a smell or flavor you had liked just a few months back, or you may not have any cravings at all. These food cravings and aversions are generally nothing to worry about, and you can indulge in some chocolate or ice cream in moderation. If, however, you’re craving non-food items (like clay or chalk), you should contact your healthcare provider. Read on to learn more about this most “interesting” set of pregnancy symptoms.

What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?

Experts are not sure what causes these difficult-to-resist food cravings during pregnancy, but they may be your body's way of letting you know that some nutrients, like vitamin C, calcium, or iron, are missing from your diet. Cravings could also be a result of your need for stronger flavors during pregnancy, or a result of your body’s need for extra calories now that it's providing nourishment for your baby. Early pregnancy cravings during the first trimester may also be linked to a surge in pregnancy hormones. It’s also possible that you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or emotional, and that you’re just longing for your favorite comfort foods.

What Are Pregnancy Food Aversions?

During pregnancy, you might suddenly find yourself unable to tolerate the taste or smell (or both) of a certain food, even if this was something you hadn’t minded earlier; coffee and fish are frequent offenders. Different theories exist as to what triggers these aversions, but it could be that you’re simply more sensitive to certain smells and tastes due to changes in your hormones. Morning sickness may be connected with some aversions, as certain smells may make you feel more nauseated.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings and Aversions Start and End?

Cravings and aversions can be an early sign of pregnancy, appearing in the first trimester along with all the hormonal changes going on in your body. For many women, food cravings are likely to lessen in the second trimester, and after your baby is born, all those cravings and aversions will be a thing of the past. Some women don’t experience any cravings or aversions at all.

Common pregnancy cravings

Common Pregnancy Cravings

You’ve probably heard jokes about weird pregnancy cravings. Although you may not be sprinkling sugar on your steak, you may still be experiencing other unusual food cravings, especially late at night. Although every mom-to-be has her own story, here are some common pregnancy cravings:

  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Chili peppers or spicy food
  • Pickles

What to Do About Food Cravings During Pregnancy

When a craving hits, it’s all you can think about, and you’ll accept no substitutes. As long as the food you're craving is reasonably healthy, it is OK to go ahead and have some. In other words, if all you want is chocolate, then eat a piece of chocolate! Sometimes, it may not even be that you crave something in particular, but you can’t bear the thought of eating anything else. In fact, you may feel nauseated just thinking about going near any other food.

Cravings and aversions are a normal part of pregnancy, even if no two moms' cravings are the same. Maybe you can’t get enough salty bites, or you really want something sweet. Perhaps you want to reach for something cold and crunchy, or you’ve suddenly found yourself pairing foods that normally you would never dream of eating together. Some old wives’ tales say that craving sweets means you’re expecting a girl, whereas salty cravings mean you’re having a little boy. Of course, there is no scientific basis for this. In fact, no one knows what leads to craving salt or sweets during pregnancy.

What early signs of pregnancy and cravings did you have? Take our quiz, and share your craving story with us!

Cravings You Should Tell Your Doctor About

Some pregnant women may crave non-food items like clay, laundry detergent, dirt, clay, ashes, or paint chips, or even ice. This is a condition called pica, which may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency. If you have the urge to eat non-food items, talk to your healthcare provider, and do not give into these cravings, as it may be harmful for both you and your baby.

Cravings are normal and can even be funny sometimes. You’ll probably even have a few amusing craving stories of your own; why not share them with us? If you’re interested learning more about food, nutrition, and your pregnancy, check out our pregnancy nutrition guide, read up on other foods to avoid during pregnancy, or keep track of your pregnancy weight gain with our weight tracker.

Keep in mind that as long as you’re getting all the nutrition you both need while you’re pregnant, treating yourself here and there is totally fine. Listen to your body, and enjoy the ride.

Healthy pregnancy

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