Pregnancy cravings

Experiencing cravings? Find out why strange food combinations seem so appealing when you are expecting.
The vast majority of women experience cravings at some point during their pregnancy, so if you've been gripped by the overwhelming desire to eat pickles at 3 in the morning rest assured your not alone!

While it's a common belief that pregnancy leads you to crave some of the most bizarre food combinations imaginable, it may come as a surprise to learn that the most popular 'craved' foods seem to be on the tamer end of the scale, with fresh fruit, dairy products and anything salty or spicy cited as the pregnancy 'must haves' for many.

Pregnancy cravings are certainly strange, you can be carrying on with your day as normal when you're suddenly overcome by a powerful urge to gorge on something you may not have even liked before you fell pregnant. There are many theories as to why food (and indeed non-food) cravings are experienced during pregnancy, here are just a few......

Evolution

One school of thought believes that pregnancy cravings are an evolutionary mechanism, in place to ensure that an expectant mother consumes enough of the right nutrients and calories to sustain her growing baby at a time when she may not feel like eating at all what with morning sickness, indigestion, fatigue and heartburn. This theory has been supported by research which suggests that taste preferences change throughout pregnancy.

During the first trimester, many develop a strong aversion to bitter foods which, from an evolutionary perspective, can be interpreted as being the body's way of telling you to avoid substances such as poisonous berries or alcohol which typically have a bitter quality and which may be harmful to your baby. As pregnancy progresses sour tastes become more favourable, possibly with the purpose of increasing the range of foods and nutrients that an expectant mother consumes. The taste for salty foods also increases, which is potentially why many pregnant women develop a taste for pickles during the final months. This salty preference could possibly be due to the body's need for increased levels of sodium as blood and body mass increases.

Nutrients

Many believe that pregnancy cravings are a result of a nutritional deficiency. Again this theory makes logical sense, especially when you consider that many craved foods such as fruit and dairy do provide the body with nourishing vitamins and calcium. Some even speculate that a B vitamin deficiency is linked to chocolate cravings.

While this theory does sound likely on paper (especially as any theory which implies that you can eat chocolate and ice cream for the health of your baby must be right -right?) unfortunately there has been little research that has successfully linked nutritional deficiencies with specific cravings. However, many still strongly advocate this approach in determining what your body needs to nourish your baby whilst you are pregnant.

Hormones

Some attribute pregnancy cravings to the huge hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. This theory has some support in that similar cravings are experienced premenstrually and during the menopause when certain 'pregnancy' hormones are also elevated.

However, seemingly hormonal related cravings do tend to be for sweet substances and rarely for the sour, salty of spicy foods that many pregnant women crave. Additionally, if cravings could be explained on a purely hormonal basis then why don't all pregnant women experience the same cravings at the same stages of their pregnancy. This is a question that can't be answered by hormones alone.

Psychological

Instead of a biological or physical mechanism, cravings may be due to a psychological response to pregnancy. Whether they are the result of a mechanism that causes pregnant women to experience cravings because they expect to, because its seen as socially acceptable to 'eat for two' and indulge in foods that they may not have felt free to before, or by using food subconsciously as an emotional support through a period of such great change, the reasons are unknown.

The likelihood is that pregnancy cravings are a combination of all of the above theories and mechanisms. However, regardless f the cause, most cravings are relatively harmless when indulged in moderation. As long as you are enjoying a balanced diet that provides you and your baby with all the nutrients you need, giving into temptation now and again won't do you any harm.

The one exception to this is when you are craving non-food substances as you may have a condition known as Pica. It is important to visit your doctor if you develop an urge to eat or even chew non-food substances as indulging this craving could be hazardous to the health of you and your baby.

Chat or Ask a Question:

If you have a question about this article or something else, visit our friendly forums & ask the AskBaby community.

Chat about pregnancy cravings with our friendly community...

Your Comments:

We'd love to hear your comments on this article...

Login to add your comment:

Email: Password:
Not yet a member? Join thousands of other parents and parents-to-be... Sign Up Now!
Forgot your
Password?

I am 7 weeks i crave swiss cheese gummi bears and nutella. I also always want salty. Especially salt and vinegar chips.. All I do is eat!!!
by Jendell88 20th Jun 2013, 3:08pm
Im 15 weeks pregnant with my first child, my cravings are pickles i love them :) I was gutted when i went shopping last week and my pickles werent there its pay day today and the first thing im doing is going shopping getting quite a few jars of pickles lol. Im also enjoying ice lollys exspecially fruit pastel ones even my partner loves them!! x
by katie12 11th Mar 2011, 5:15pm
Craving blood is this common?
by Bliss85 17th Jan 2011, 2:54pm
i am 10 weeks & cannot get enough off chicken nuggets with tomato sauce - my fella made me a whole bag the other weekend & then i sent him to mcdonalds for more!! i love them!! but i am eating everything more or less!!
by lilly1985 13th Oct 2010, 12:34pm
Oh wow i'm happy to read your post! I have been craving foam also!! i have been to the craft store multiply times trying to find the type i want! i like the feeling of just chewing on it! To me it works as a stress reliever. BTW i also tried eating it!
by Diva0906 23rd Aug 2010, 10:26am
Someone PLEASE tell me if they've ever experienced this or not: I am craving FOAM RUBBER. Things like Mr. Clean "magic erasers," acoustics foam, memory foam, etc. I have an insatiable urge to either chew it, or WORSE, EAT IT. I haven't EATEN anything yet, but I'm trying really hard not to. Not to be graphic, but I akin it to not being able to have an orgasm --that is how strong the urge is to me! I had to explain it to my partner & not reaching orgasm seems to be the best comparison as far as frustration goes :P
by thehomeschoolwinner 12th Aug 2010, 10:39am
I'm due July 4th (Independence day for US!!) yay!! My craziest craving is Tyson's Breaded Chicken Strips with Welch's Concorde Grape Jelly. I could eat it 24/7.. also a not so weird craving is Fried Bologna sandwiches. (I've never been able to stomach the thought of bologana before.
by Bryte 11th Jun 2010, 5:33pm
I'm 5 weeks pregnant and craving chips with lots of salt on it, and cinnamon swirls...
by someszti 14th May 2010, 4:49pm
i just cannot seem to get enough of salt and vinager squares (crisps) they r soooo good and also cheese sandwichs with salad cram and marmite mmmmm yummy im 14 weeks and soooooooo excited xxx
by sexymum1bull 14th May 2010, 4:26pm
I'm 20 weeks pregnant i have cravings for plain chips with barbeque wings and ohh!!! i also like pizza with lots of mozerella on top!!!! added by fifi
by doddle 8th Feb 2010, 9:21am
My first pregnancy I craved soup, oranges and beer. My second one (ended in m/c) I craved freshly split dry wood. (very strange I know) and this pregnancy I am 11 weeks on and I am having more aversions to steamed or boiled vegies. Cant stand them. Just the thought sends me to the toilet!!!! Although tuna mornay sounds good about now........
by kasey82 5th Jan 2010, 3:53pm
I AM 9 WEEKS AND I HAVE CRAVING FOR ICE CREAM ALL THE TIME AND ALSO I AM HAVING TWINS AND I AM SO SO HAPPY!!!!
by renee94 25th Nov 2009, 9:42am
Im somewhere between 6 and 10 weeks pregnant for the first time and Im loving Pesto. I put it on my veggies or mix it in to almond cheese yummy. Yesterday I had marmite and cucumber - I thought it sounded lovely (and it was) but my mum and other half thought it sounded vile!
by fionap 21st Sep 2009, 9:17am
i cant get enough of strawberry laces i visited the best sweet emporium last weekend and i came out with strawberry laces :| a sweet that i could have bought from tescos stupid cravin i kno i just cannot tempt myself to eat n e other sweets or chocolate !
by tamsen 10th Aug 2009, 9:30am
I'm 32 weeks today and can't stop eating!!! Also been craving ice big time can't get enough of it : )
by HP1988 6th Jul 2009, 9:06am
im seven weeks pregnant and could eat and eat!! im craving veggies and chicken and never feel full!!! is this normal?im overweight and dont want to gain any unnecessary weight,but its hard!!!
by redirishlass 24th Jun 2009, 9:55am
I haven't had craving as such, but did just have a jolly good snack on cold chicken!! It was like my body needed the chicken! I had just eaten strawberries and yoghurt and a sausage roll but nope had to have a gorge on this chicken! I am 6 wks pregnant.
by POPLET 11th May 2009, 11:42am
i have not long since found out that i am pregnant with my first child, and i am approxmately 9 weeks, and i'm eating eanything and everything at the moment, but have cravings for pickled onions and plain crisps, although i tend to want to eat everything i see!!!
by kassy1991 15th Apr 2009, 10:16am
i am in week eight and i want to eat anything i see but one bite and i feel sick for hours....not managing to get rid of the nausea...any suggestions
by franksmum 25th Mar 2009, 9:18am
Im 30 weeks pregnant and havnt had a craving since i found out i was pregnant and funny enough mine was onion bargies
by yungamum09 10th Mar 2009, 8:50am
I am 7weeks and i want to eat everything i see on TV or what other people are eating. I made my partner run to the shop at 11pm because i saw chocolate on the telly, then in saw someone at work eating a jacket potato and had to get myself one(needless to say the smell was better than the taste). Salt in also a big craving and my partner hates that i eat salt at all.
by Decia 17th Feb 2009, 9:47am
Don't do it! I attempted a chinese with my husband last night cos I thought I fancied it...ended up leaving it all and having a piece of toast! Couldn't even get it near my mouth...bleuuurghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
by JS1 17th Feb 2009, 9:47am
I am 9 weeks and all I can eat is crisps anything else makes me feel sick. However today I cant stop thinking about crispy duck, hoisin sauce n apple pie. I feel so restless its strange.
by amy1981 5th Feb 2009, 9:59am
When I was pregnant, before my mc, I think I went to about 11 weeks... I craved apples for some strange reason.... Ive never really been fond of them, and still am not !!
by lawsa88 3rd Feb 2009, 9:18am
I am craving Worshetershire Sauce, anybody have any thoughts???
by tbrew 2nd Feb 2009, 10:47am
I'm 11 weeks pregnant and am eating anything I can get my hands on! I never used to like salt and vinegar crisps, but now I eat them all the time!
by LexiMummy2Dante 28th Jan 2009, 9:03am
I am about 11 weeks now and when i was about 3/4 weeks i was craving salt - still am. Although now i have toast with pickles and hot Nando's sauce. Cant start my day without it!
by 1stbaby 13th Jan 2009, 9:17am
I am about 6 wks pregnant but don't feel any different.I ain't being sick or feeling sick, i don't crave and eat just as i always have. As this is my first pregnacy i wonder.... is this normal?
by KezzaBee 4th Nov 2008, 9:07am
My craving has been cheese and chargrilled chicken sandwich with sweet chilli sauce. Weird but nice. I have such bad sickness, it is the only thing that doesn't make me throw up.
by lornaross 7th Oct 2008, 9:34am
i really wante dtomato soup the other day - had a really bad headach - had to go the shop on me lunch break got me soup and some rolls and felt sooo much better :)
by kimbubbly 19th Sep 2008, 8:56am
I cant eat hardly anything..just the site of meals makes me feel ill. I am eating crisps and the occasional piece of fruit and thats about it!
by nickynoodles25 19th Sep 2008, 8:56am
I have heard that eating or chewing ice is a great way to keep the morning sickness at bay and also to get more water, which we all need. I love to chew ice most when I am feeling nautious and it always helps!
by MommaV 16th Sep 2008, 9:07am
I'm 7 weeks preg and i'm always craving cereal & pickles. I eat alot!
by Swesselmann 16th Sep 2008, 9:07am
in my week five i have had all kinds of cravings pickle juice and[[cheese]] combos tops everything else that i have tried though!!!
by Shaneovia 16th Sep 2008, 9:07am
just 4 weeks into my pregnancy i wanted to eat salad. this may not sound to strange but i myself never ever eat salad, so for me i knew something odd was happening !! a week or so later i just wanted to drink coke with ice cubes, it had to be ice cold and again for me i never drink coke and only have ice cubes in my vodka !!! very strange.
by babynumber3 19th Aug 2008, 8:40am
In My 5th Week Of Pregnancy and i Can't get enough of ICE.. I Have Like Three Trays A Day, I Heard This Can Be Worrying, should I Be Worried?
by Mummi2Be 18th Aug 2008, 9:16am
During her second pregnancy, my best friend craved the smell of bleach! She used to do a lot of cleaning just so she could have a wiff..... needless to say she never was tempted to taste it, it was just the smell she craved. Im in the 7th week of my first pregnancy, i wonder if her weirdness had rubbed off on me enough to develop a bizzarre, non-food based craving like hers or sarahrose's! I can't wait to find out! So far i just want to eat pizza all the time...
by Gemeny 14th Jul 2008, 9:10am
when i was pregnant before i had craving for peanut butter and cheese sandwiches
by lizawhite 30th Jun 2008, 9:59am
Question: During my 1st pregnancy I craved the taste of rubber. I used to chew baby teets and balloons. I am now 6 months pregnant and I am now starting to crave rubber again should I be worried?
by sarahrose 15th May 2007, 9:22am

Related:

Community

Popular