Pregnancy and pickles are meant to be together, right? Weird pregnancy cravings are one of the first symptoms of pregnancy you experience, and they’re known to follow you for weeks and weeks to come. Cravings tend to differ from woman to woman, but why do pregnant women crave pickles?
Whatever your background may be, chances are you grew up with the notion that you’re going to crave pickles from the moment you get pregnant. Whether you heard that from your family members or saw something about pregnancy and pickles being a thing on TV, you subconsciously expect to crave them.
Pregnancy cravings can be caused by a myriad of factors, from hormonal changes and a heightened sense of smell and taste to psychological and cultural expectations. Women from the US, for example, are more likely to crave pickles than Middle Eastern women because that’s what they’re told by society.
Cravings for “ordinary” foods are much more likely to happen, too. Women typically report that they’re craving salty foods, spicy foods, certain fruits and vegetables, or even meat. We do hear stories of women who crave cigarettes, sand, coal, and similar lunacies, but that’s not that likely to happen to everyone.
With that out of the way, though, why do pregnant women crave pickles? What makes pickles the one thing that gets expecting mothers out of bed and into the kitchen? Is it sodium? Is it the sweetness from the spices? Is it the fact that everyone talks about pickles around pregnant women? Read more below!
Why do pregnant women crave pickles?
First and foremost, the old notion about pregnant people and pickles might not be an old wives’ tale after all. You might think that’s not something that everyone experiences, but almost all pregnant women agree that they’ve experienced a sudden surge of pregnancy cravings and food aversions sooner or later.
Finally, some of the most famous pregnancy cravings are pickles. Why do pregnant women crave pickles, anyway? Why do pickles seem to be at the forefront of all pregnancy cravings around the world? Worry not, you’re not the only one reaching for a container of pickled veggies at 3 a.m. every night.
Craving salty, spicy, and even sour foods seems to be one of the most common pregnancy cravings. Whether that’s because you were a fan of salty snacks before pregnancy or because your taste buds changed with pregnancy, we don’t know that.
What most people agree on, however, might be the fact that craving pickles might reflect low sodium levels during pregnancy. Salt holds water in the body and your body might be telling you that you need more salt to keep the fluids running from the mother to the baby. Try not to overeat salty snacks, though!
5 reasons why pregnant women crave pickles
With that out of the way, we do have a few theories that might be able to explain your sudden obsession with pickled veggies. Hormones, nutritional needs, nausea, dehydration, and psychological and cultural expectations tackle the age-old question to a tee.
When you’re pregnant, hormones are to blame for everything – or so it seems. Hormonal fluctuations are normal throughout pregnancy, and because of the sudden increase in levels of estrogen and progesterone, you might start feeling like your taste and smell perceptions are changing.
While we don’t know for a fact whether you’re craving pickles because of estrogen and progesterone, a lot of people agree that food cravings happen as a consequence of changed taste and smell perceptions. We’d argue that these changes might make pickles taste even better than before.
2. Nutritional needs
Sure, you experience a sudden surge of hormonal fluctuations from the beginning of your pregnancy throughout the entire journey. But your hormonal fluctuations might not be the only reason why you’re scoffing down jars and jars of pickles every single week.
Before you go to your doctor because you think there’s something wrong with you, know that pickle cravings can be a consequence of your nutritional needs.
You’d be surprised at how good your body is at figuring out what you need and sending you signals to provide it with exactly that. Your body might be telling you that you need more sodium in your diet. Pickles are rich in sodium and sodium is essential for balancing fluids and minerals in your blood.
Nausea might be one of the worst pregnancy symptoms, especially during the first trimester. Whether you’re dealing with morning sickness or nausea that follows you throughout the day, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
You can’t eat anything without throwing up. You can’t walk by the kitchen without feeling like you’re about to pass out. You struggle to figure out how to feed yourself and your baby considering the problems you’re facing.
With a little help from pickles, you might be able to get through the day, though. Pickles are sour and tangy, and that’s why you might feel like they’re going to alleviate some of that nausea. Sour candies are a common home remedy for pregnancy-related nausea, so why not pickles?
What do pickles and dehydration have to do with each other? When you’re expecting a baby, your body is working overtime to increase your blood volume and that’s why you might feel more dehydrated during pregnancy.
Now, due to dehydration, you have a constant need to drink more water (and pee more!) Needless to say, that’s not something you can deal with 24/7 and you might resort to pickles to help you out.
We’re not talking about drinking pickle juice. We’re talking about munching on pickles that are packed with sodium to retain some of that water and stave off dehydration.
We do need to mention that you shouldn’t shy away from drinking plenty of fluids during pregnancy because that’s the best way to provide your body and your baby with enough hydration.
5. Psychological and cultural expectations
And that’s because you’re bombarded with TikToks, Instagram posts, and articles that warn you about the oncoming pickle obsession. You’re already buying all the pickled vegetables at your store. You’re already hiding a stash of pickles next to your bed. Why’s that?
According to research, psychological factors and cultural associations can influence cravings. At the end of the day, you want to feel like you’re going through the same changes your mother, grandmother, or your BFF went through when they were pregnant.
What about pickle juice?
Pregnant women crave pickle juice, too! Pickles might not be your cup of tea, whether that’s because of the texture or because you’re not a fan of pickled veggies. Pickle juice, on the other hand, might be the one thing that makes you forget about your pregnancy symptoms.
Pickle juice might actually have a few health benefits, too. Naturally fermented pickles and pickle juice are packed with probiotics that benefit healthy gut bacteria. Surprisingly, drinking pickle juice might help you with your nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and a bunch of other pregnancy symptoms, too.
However, you can’t forget about the high sodium content that comes with pickles and pickle juice. Before you chug an entire jar of pickle juice, make sure you dilute it with water, check in on your body, and keep an eye on the color of your urine to ensure you’re not getting dehydrated.
Are pickles safe to consume during pregnancy?
Pregnancy comes with an array of questions you’re eager to answer. Considering the fact that you’re craving pickles from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, you might be wondering whether pickles are safe to consume during pregnancy at all. Wonder no more because they are.
Pickles are mostly safe to consume during pregnancy, as long as you pay close attention to the type and the amount of pickles you’re consuming. Naturally fermented pickles are the healthiest because of the gut bacteria we mentioned beforehand, but we wouldn’t go for homemade pickles.
Homemade pickles might expose you to bacteria like Listeria, which might cause serious pregnancy complications down the line. Store-bought pickles are a better option, but that doesn’t mean that you can go ham on them. Opt for a few pickles every day and you’re good to go.
How to safely consume pickles during pregnancy?
Pregnancy and pickles are clearly a perfect match and that’s why we’re bringing you a few tips and tricks on how to safely consume pickles during pregnancy.
First things first, opt for reduced-sodium pickles to prevent dehydration. Compare the nutrition facts on different brands of pickles and choose the ones that speak to you the most. Reduced amounts of sodium and sugar are always a good place to start, but you might need to watch out for calories, too.
Furthermore, shop for store-bought pickles prepared in vinegar because they’re least likely to contain harmful bacteria. Follow the storage instructions on the label to ensure you don’t accidentally consume spoiled pickles – always seal your pickle jar securely.
Finally, be mindful of the amount of pickles you consume in one sitting. Pickles are safe to consume during pregnancy, but you and your growing baby need a delicious, nutritious, and plentiful diet to survive and thrive. Fingers crossed!