Pregnancy cravings are such a weird phenomenon. Just because you’re growing life inside of you, you start to experience a need for the weirdest foods that you’ve probably never eaten before.
You feel like you can’t help it, so you have to get up and walk to the fridge, even in the middle of the night. I mean, hopefully, you’re just craving grapes and pickles. Some of the cravings that pregnant women experience are almost like those extreme eating challenges where people try unimaginable combinations.
But why do these things occur? Why do you have those cravings? Where do they even come from?
There are so many unanswered questions, and you want to make sure that this is healthy for your baby. If you indulge in something too much, it may cause you to put the baby at risk. Or is that something that people around you are saying? What if you’re nothing more than a chocolate bar away from being happy and satisfied again?
I would still recommend that you see your doctor before you bring any new foods into your diet, just to make sure that you won’t be putting yourself or your baby at risk. At the end of the day, you could easily satisfy your pregnancy cravings without having to be scared.
What are pregnancy cravings?
To explain this simply, a craving is a need for a certain type of food that’s more than just hunger. It’s not rational, and even though you’ve eaten already, you need something more – something exact. When we take a look at research, we can see that somewhere between 50 and 90 percent of pregnant women experience some sort of food cravings.
Most commonly, these cravings occur during the first trimester. However, it’s quite possible that your pregnancy cravings won’t stop there, they’ll continue for the rest of your pregnancy. These needs are completely normal during this time of your life, but they’re also unusual, so you’re not completely comfortable with them.
These cravings haven’t been researched enough, so there’s no way to know for sure why you’re experiencing them.
The most accepted theory says that pregnancy cravings revolve around psychological factors, nutritional deficiency, hormonal changes, and cultural backgrounds.
It’s also possible that women crave foods that are opposite to the ones that create nausea in them during pregnancy. Usually, those cravings are foods that the woman can tolerate.
7 common pregnancy cravings
1. Spicy foods
Pregnancy cravings aren’t logical. For example, you probably never liked spicy foods to begin with, you couldn’t handle the spice, so you simply avoided them. However, now that you’re pregnant, those cravings are hitting you quite hard.
Craving spicy foods can be out for different reasons, however, it’s not really a bad thing for you. It can even be good for the baby’s taste buds after they are born. There are a couple of downsides to it, so if you are prone to heartburn or indigestion, then you may want to lower your intake. However, you should be fine if you continue eating veggies and dairy products to balance this out.
Either way, too much of anything could be harmful, so I’d highly advise you to talk to your doctor about these cravings.
Dairy products are another one of those pregnancy cravings that have no reasonable explanation. However, some would argue that it’s because of a calcium deficiency. The calcium that’s stored within your body is mostly given to the growing fetus.
Because of that, you’re craving foods that are high in calcium, just like dairy products are. The issue here is that you shouldn’t drink or eat dairy products that aren’t pasteurized. There are many parasites and bacteria that accumulate in dairy products during the collection of milk, or even during the packaging process.
You’re much more likely to catch a disease and to be more susceptible to parasites during your pregnancy. That’s why you should be more than careful when these cravings occur.
3. Fast food
Not every woman is lucky enough to have pregnancy cravings that are healthy. You could be the person who craves junk food and fast food more often than not.
Junk food isn’t good for anyone, regardless of the state of your body. They cause excess weight gain, and they are extremely low in nutrients and vitamins. At the end of the day, they’re unhealthy and filled with bad fats.
Even though it’s so hard to resist these urges, it’s genuinely not a good idea to indulge in this particular craving. I would even go as far as to say that you should avoid this as much as possible when you’re growing another human being in your belly.
With all the chemicals and fats that are in fast food and junk food, they can’t bring you anything good. At least, make sure that your intake of these foods is extremely limited.
4. Fruits and veggies
If you’re one of those lucky people who crave healthier options, then you should definitely be grateful. However, you should always be aware of possible allergies that you may have developed during your pregnancy.
If we’re talking about fruits, you should be aware of the amount you’re eating. Not because it’s unhealthy, but rather because the sugars that are in the fruits could cause the sugar levels in your body to spike, which isn’t that good for the baby.
For example, the OB/GYN thought that my mom developed diabetes simply because she craved grapes all of the time. She would indulge in them until her blood sugar levels would spike enormously. This isn’t healthy for you or your unborn baby.
It’s also possible that you’re craving certain foods because there’s a lack of certain vitamins and minerals in your body. If your potassium levels are low, you’ll end up craving avocados, broccoli, or spinach. That’s why you should do some extensive blood work to make sure that everything in your body is balanced out.
One of the most common pregnancy cravings is when women say that they’re craving pickles all the time. Well, your body is trying to increase the blood volume, which is why it’s natural to drink more water during pregnancy or to eat foods that are more hydrating.
One theory suggests that pregnant women crave pickles for that exact reason, they’re juicy, yet they’re still extremely salty. This means that they’ll help their body stave off dehydration.
It’s also said that pickles in particular alleviate nausea.
There’s a good chance that your body is deficient in some minerals, like sodium, so it’s trying its best to tell you that it’s time to fill those supplies again.
Sugars and sweets are common pregnancy cravings. They occur because your body is in desperate need of more calories, so it’s trying to maintain a good balance. However, there’s a big downside to it.
The refined sugars that you can find in chocolates and candy give you an immediate rise in energy, but they also turn into an energy crash quite quickly.
Depriving yourself of sweets during your pregnancy is not an option at all! You should definitely treat yourself from time to time, even though these pregnancy cravings can become annoying.
However, you have to be aware that eating too many sweets while pregnant can cause your baby to be much bigger during delivery, and you’re risking childhood obesity.
Eating too many refined sugars is bad for your health, even outside of pregnancy. So, you should limit your intake as much as possible, without depriving yourself. If you have a sweet tooth, then you may as well treat yourself to a chocolate bar from time to time.
7. Salty foods
Pregnancy cravings can be all kinds of foods. It’s quite often that women crave sour or salty foods.
When it comes to salty foods in particular, it’s possible that they need them in order to retain fluids and replace sodium lost during the first trimester. During this time, progesterone levels can lead to losing more sodium in your urine.
That’s why you may feel the need to eat potato chips or add a little more salt to your meals. Even though you weren’t a big fan of these things beforehand, the urges are now too brutal to ignore.
So, you end up needing that pack of chips. However, you should be aware that you could get some digestive issues. When you’re ingesting too much sodium, it will make you take more trips to the bathroom, which can increase the possibility of dehydration.
Other than that, you can end up having extreme issues with your blood pressure which is quite dangerous for your pregnancy. Another thing that this could cause is that it could easily affect the development of your child’s kidneys.
That’s why it’s important to always take all of these things into consideration. Salty foods can also create an insulin imbalance that leads to diabetes. So, be quite careful if one of your pregnancy cravings is sodium and salty foods.
Always make sure that you’re not overdoing anything, or that you’re not indulging in these things without taking into consideration the health of your baby.
What are pregnancy food aversions?
During your pregnancy, you may start to become disgusted by the taste or smell of certain foods. Sometimes, these aversions pass after a couple of months, but some women say that they continue to hate those foods long after they’ve delivered the baby.
Most of the time, you’ll start to become disgusted by foods that you once liked. For example, coffee, fermented foods, or fried foods. Those are the most common offenders when it comes to food aversions.
There’s also no research done on this, as food aversions can come and go during pregnancy. There’s no underlying meaning behind them, nor can you have some type of influence on them.
There are two reasons why you’re experiencing food aversions, and those are connected to the hormonal changes that continuously are playing with your mind and body. This happens because of an increase in salivation, which is commonly connected to nausea during the early stages of pregnancy.
The other reason is that some women experience a strong metallic taste in their mouth, which can also contribute to certain aversions, but also some pregnancy cravings. Either way, there’s not a thing that you can do about it.
It’s possible that all of your food aversions will disappear after the fourth month of pregnancy. On rare occasions, they may stay for a while afterward, but it’s genuinely not something that you should be worried about.
How long do they last?
Most women say that their pregnancy cravings stop after the first trimester. They say that these cravings completely vanish or they simply become less frequent.
However, there are also women who continue having these cravings far after they’ve given birth, although, that’s not a common case at all. You shouldn’t be concerned.
Most of those cravings will be completely gone by the third trimester and you can rest assured that your body won’t create any issues for you anymore. You’ll be able to focus on handling the last preparations before your little one comes into the world.
How to handle pregnancy cravings?
Now that we’ve gone through all the important and necessary information, it’s time to figure out what you can do about all of these cravings. Pregnancy cravings can become so annoying after a while, and you want to make sure that you’re not putting your baby or yourself in any type of risk.
So, is there anything that you can do?
1. Eat before you grocery shop
Pregnancy cravings aren’t that much different from regular cravings. The only issue is that you may feel like pregnancy cravings are a little harder to manage.
Well, the first tip of the day would be to always make sure that you eat something before going out to the grocery store. When you’re hungry, everything seems appealing, and you don’t think too much about the consequences of buying those unhealthy foods.
So, it would be smart to go to the store after you’ve had a fulfilling and hearty meal. I know that your cravings occur even when you’re not hungry, but this way it could be a little more manageable.
2. Don’t keep food that may tempt you around the house
You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind! If you’re craving too many unhealthy options of foods, then you may want to keep them out of your house in general. You shouldn’t keep too many sweets, or too much junk food around.
If you don’t have it in your home, at least you’ll think twice about walking to the store to get a bag of chips. Sometimes, you’ll be ready to make that run to the store. However, at least you’ve walked a little bit before you decided to indulge in those chips.
This isn’t to say that you should completely stop buying chocolates and crisps, but rather to have a limited amount at home. Otherwise, you may end up gaining too much weight and putting your baby at risk from the high blood sugar levels, or the amount of unhealthy oils that you’re putting into your body.
3. Always have a protein-filled breakfast
I know that not everyone is a breakfast person. When you’re having pregnancy cravings, this doesn’t seem like an intuitive thing to do. Especially during the first trimester because you’re still battling morning sickness and you don’t know how to cope with it. Breakfast is the last thing on your mind.
Well, there are things that you should consider in these situations. For example, if you don’t have a good breakfast that’s filled with proteins then you’ll be more likely to crave other foods. Especially because you’re hungry, you’re not filled with healthy foods, so you reach for anything that could make you happy at that moment.
Well, a protein-filled breakfast will keep you satisfied for a long time. You won’t feel the urge to overeat nor will you feel like reaching for something else because you’re already full.
Even though you may be battling morning sickness right now, you should definitely see what makes you feel good, so that you can focus on those foods instead of unhealthy options.
4. Indulge in your cravings every once in a while
With pregnancy cravings, it’s hard to avoid restrictions in your diet. You believe that by indulging in them you’re weak or that you’re harming your baby. However, it’s really not that bad.
You’re not craving alcohol, cigarettes, or some actual poison. All that you’re craving is something sweet or something spicy. Your body needs something more in your diet to fulfill those needs.
Putting a strain on all of those things will only make it worse. That’s why it’s okay if you indulge in your cravings every once in a while. You’re not a failure, you’re not a bad mother, you’re not a loser. You’re just a woman who’s doing her best to create a healthy baby.
How are you going to take care of your baby if you’re putting your mental health at risk? You’re already putting up with so much, you’re experiencing so many changes in your hormones, your body, and your mind. Now you also want to restrict your diet to the point where you’re losing your mind? That’s not going to work.
Eat that entire chocolate bar from time to time if it’s really something that you’re craving. Don’t let yourself fall victim to other people who are telling you that you’re a bad parent for indulging in your cravings. Those people are the actual bad guys for trying to control your life when you’re the one who knows what’s best for you and the baby.
5. Nap through the cravings
When you feel intense cravings while knowing that you’re probably not supposed to indulge in any more food, then you could take a nap. I mean, you’re already exhausted from cooking up eyeballs in your belly today. So, you could use some rest.
I mean, you could still feel like eating pickles dipped in mayo after you wake up, but for now, it’s better to simply do something that’ll relax you. If you’re having obsessive thoughts about those foods, then you may not feel like napping will resolve you.
However, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You try to take a nap and you can’t? So you get up and eat something? Nothing to be scared of. At least you tried to take a nap.
It may seem like a silly recommendation, but there are really no downsides to it.
Should you be concerned?
After everything you’ve read in this article, what do you think? Should you be concerned?
Well, there’s a possibility that you’re having normal pregnancy cravings and as long as you’re being careful about them, you should be more than fine. There’s nothing bad in eating a little bit of chips, or even an entire chocolate bar. Your body is craving it and there probably won’t be any effects on your infant.
The issue starts when those cravings become more than just simple thoughts about certain foods. If you’re obsessively thinking about something unusual to eat, that you know won’t make you feel good – then you should search for help.
Ask your doctor what you can do about it and also check in with a therapist or a psychiatrist. There’s nothing to be ashamed of! You’re just looking out for yourself and your baby.
This is especially important if your cravings involve substances. Alcohol, cigarettes, and other strong substances will inevitably create long-term effects on your child. You may think that you can deal with this on your own, but it’s always better to have someone hold your hand throughout this process.
So, don’t let yourself fall into a deep depression because of the sugars that you’re eating, but make sure that you’re being careful with things that could genuinely hurt your unborn child.