Pickles, ice cream or super crunchy bacon at 3AM. We’ve all heard (or even experienced) it before. Pregnancy is the time when most women don’t feel like themselves which is often reflected on their eating habits. You may start to crave foods that you didn’t even like before.
Pregnancy food cravings are sometimes so strong that you can basically smell and taste the food in your mouth, and the feeling will haunt you until you indulge your cravings.
But what do we really know about pregnancy cravings? What are the most common foods that pregnant women crave and why?
Stick around to find out.
Pregnant or not, who doesn’t like sweets? But when you add pregnancy to the mix, it’s a love-hate relationship. While some women cannot stand the smell of sugar during the first trimester, they would kill for an ice cream during the second trimester. Whether you love it or hate it, sugar cravings are pretty common during pregnancy.
You shouldn’t be too alarmed by developing a sweet-tooth during pregnancy, though. It is perfectly okay to indulge every once in a while as long as it doesn’t become a substitute for a well-balanced diet. The reason why some pregnant women crave sweets may have to do with low fat or calcium levels, but as with everything else, you should discuss this with your physician before jumping to conclusions.
Chomping on ice may be one of the most unusual pregnancy cravings. Unlike some other cravings, however, craving for ice (also known as pagophagia) may have an underlying meaning. As it turns out, craving for non-nutritive substances like ice can indicate certain vitamin deficiencies, which can be more or less serious. For example, some women may crave for ice because it soothes their mouth and tongue which are often inflamed due to iron deficiency.
Ice is not the only non-nutritive substance women tend to crave during pregnancy. There are also cases when women crave paper, starch or even dirt.
Fruits are probably the healthiest craving that pregnant women can have. Apart from the usual health benefits, fruits are said to be good for the baby’s IQ as well. That being said, unlike some other cravings, the desire to eat fruits is highly beneficial both for the mother and for the baby.
Fruit cravings are common even among women who normally dislike fruits, and the habit may stick around even after the delivery.
#4 Spicy food
According to traditional Chinese medicine, pregnant women crave spicy foods in order to strengthen their immune system, more specifically the lungs, which are the first line of defense against many illnesses.
Spicy dishes also increase the blood flow which naturally lowers the blood pressure. In addition to that, spicy food stimulates the release of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.
#5 Salty foods
Craving salty foods is probably one of the most common type of cravings. There are various theories as to why this happens. One of the theories is that women’s body needs to retain water during pregnancy and sodium helps with that. Another possible reason is due to hormonal changes or morning sickness which can deplete your body of sodium. Whatever the case, pregnant women should listen to their bodies when it comes to salty cravings unless the doctor suggests otherwise.
But they should do so with a grain of salt. As you know, not all salty foods are created equal. Some salty alternatives are better than others, so you should always opt for healthier choices like vegetable soups, oven baked pretzels, salads or pickles instead of going for deep-fried French fries, hamburgers and chips.
Pregnancy is full of unexpected changes. Food cravings are one of them, and they can be pretty wild during pregnancy, but they are perfectly normal. Every women is unique, however, and you should always consult with your physician if you suspect you may have an underlying condition. Until then, listen to your body and satisfy your taste buds.