Everything You Need to Know About Pregnancy Cravings

Besides morning sickness, food cravings tend to be only the most commonly known symptoms for pregnant women while they’re expecting. In TV, movies, and other forms of media, food cravings are often a hot topic of discussion between fictional characters—or even part of a harmless joke or gag—when one is a pregnant person.

If you’re pregnant or have been in the past, you probably know what it is like to experience a pregnancy craving. But maybe you’re a newly pregnant woman, and you wonder: When will I start craving foods or have the sudden urge to try weird food combinations? Can cravings predict whether my baby’s a girl or a boy?

Perhaps you want to learn more as you’re experiencing cravings for the first time, why you suddenly have food aversions to things that never bothered you before, or you want to know why you crave odd combinations of foods. You could even be craving non-food items.

Maybe you’re not a pregnant woman, and you’re simply interested in the topic of commonly craved foods for pregnant women, or you’re a supportive partner who wants to be educated on the subject.

Whatever your questions and reasons to learn more about pregnancy cravings and the most commonly craved foods, we’re sure to answer them here today.

Pregnancy Cravings: Frequently Asked Questions

Before we dish about common pregnancy food cravings and talk about all cravings, from ice cream to some of the “weird food cravings,” let’s run through some of the questions and answers you’re here for.

Why Do Pregnant Women Crave Certain Foods?

The number of unexplained pregnancy symptoms might shock you, and pregnancy cravings are one of them. Researchers have theories but don’t know precisely what causes pregnancy cravings.

Some think it could be a result of hormone changes (the same answer for a lot of other pregnancy symptoms), while others believe that certain diet deficiencies trigger them. What we do know is that almost all pregnant women experience cravings, so you’re not alone!

What Do Food Cravings Feel Like During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women will often say that their food cravings during pregnancy feel like an unbeatable urge to fuel extreme hunger or to give their taste buds whatever they’re “asking for” at any given moment. Food craving during pregnancy is often associated with the unpredictable ebb and flow of hormones, causing an extra need for comfort.

When Will Pregnancy Cravings Start?

Many pregnant women, especially new mothers, want to know the earliest point in pregnancy at which their cravings will start. Anecdotal evidence has revealed that most pregnancy cravings are reported during early pregnancy, starting at the end of the first trimester, increasing towards the beginning of the second trimester, and phasing out in the third trimester.

Of course, like most pregnancy symptoms, timing can be relative to when food cravings will appear and subside while you’re expecting. Some women have craving-free pregnancies and don’t experience them at all, which is actually quite rare, but every pregnancy is unique!

Pregnancy Food Cravings: a Sign of Nutritional Deficiency?

Pregnancyood cravings are extremely common, and they’re often not a sign of mineral deficiency or a lack of nutritional value in your diet. However, some healthy food and non-conventional cravings (such as pica cravings, which you can read more about in the sections below!) can be a sign of such deficiencies.

Can Food Aversions Reveal My Baby’s Gender?

Unfortunately—for the hopeful mothers here who have experienced food aversions before they can find out whether their baby is a boy or girl on an ultrasound—what you’ve heard about food aversions and their connection to the gender of your baby are simply rumors and myths without the support of scientific evidence.

Sure, you probably know some pregnant women who have “predicted” their baby is a boy or girl based on the foods they can’t stand, but those are probably just lucky guesses. If you want to know the gender of your baby before delivery, an ultrasound session with your OB-GYN—any time from 13 weeks until your due date—is your best bet.

Should I Ignore My Pregnancy Cravings?

You may think that you should or need to prevent food cravings during pregnancy, especially if you feel that they’ve become excessive or that you’re at risk when you’re craving nothing but unhealthy foods. Pregnancy-safe foods and healthy food intake are essential factors that contribute to optimal nutrition for you and your growing baby, but most pregnancy cravings are pretty harmless.

When you have a lot of aversions to food, ignoring your cravings may not be the best idea. You shouldn’t give in to harmful cravings, but you have to fuel your body at the end of the day! Plus, you deserve to comfort yourself; enjoy a sweet treat, or give in sometimes when you’re craving ice cream.

Just be sure to balance out your diet and supplement the things you know you should avoid with safer, healthier foods that can serve as alternatives for the time being.

What Are the Weirdest Pregnancy Cravings?

Lucky for those asking this question, we’ll get to that in just a second. If the “weird cravings” are the main reason you’re here, skip on down to the section called “Some Odd Combinations of Food Cravings”!

If you have lingering questions or curiosity about pregnancy cravings, read on! We’ll explore all things ranging from the most common pregnancy cravings to the “weird cravings” you’ve heard about—we’ll even discuss aversions and random cravings for non-food substances you need to watch out for.

Food Aversions

Of what we currently know about food aversions, they can be a huge cause of frustration. When your former favorite foods or what the people around you are eating makes you sick to your stomach, it can feel overwhelming or even miserable.

There isn’t a sole cause known to contribute to any specific food aversion during pregnancy, but there’s plenty of speculation as to why you may have them. One reason may be that pregnancy hormones can throw your senses out of whack.

HCG hormones often make women’s sense of—well, everything—different from what they were used to before pregnancy. This can cause morning sickness, a dull or metallic flavor experience from your taste buds, or a heightened sense (maybe even a horrifyingly putrid, vomit-worthy perception) of smell.

Certain foods may gross you out so badly during pregnancy that you’ll never want to eat them again. Sometimes pregnancy is a mourning period for your favorite foods, but usually, you’ll come back around after your little one arrives.

Most Common Pregnancy Cravings

Again, pregnancy cravings are incredibly common and shouldn’t be any reason for concern. Having food cravings during pregnancy can even be traced back to ancient Greece! Some of the most common cravings include:

  • Milk (Many women specifically crave chocolate milk)
  • Ice cream. It’s more than likely that you will crave ice cream like nobody’s business. Seriously, be cautioned that your ice cream consumption rate may skyrocket.
  • Aside from milk and ice cream, you might crave dairy products like cheese, sour cream, and butter. Just be sure to stick to pasteurized dairy products only!
  • Chocolate, particularly milk chocolate
  • All sweet foods. Most pregnant women crave sweet foods, but who knows—some hate it, and it might not be your thing, either.
  • Fresh fruit, mainly strawberries, citrus fruits, pineapple, and fresh fruit juice. Citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin c, so doctors approve of satisfying this craving!
  • Fish, but be warned: All raw fish and cooked fish containing high mercury levels are pregnancy no-nos. Sorry, no sushi!
  • Spicy foods
  • Salty foods: Most of the unhealthy junk foods you can’t wait to get your hands on are likely delicious, salty foods. On the upside, pickles and other salty foods can help with muscle cramps due to their high sodium content.
  • Red meat
  • Fatty foods
  • Sour foods
  • Comfort foods and carbs: you might crave rice, pasta, french fries, cereal, and mashed potatoes

Some Odd Combinations of Food Cravings

While these are the most common, there are certainly more documented cravings than that! Odd combinations of different foods are also extremely common. Some of the most bizarre craving concoctions on record are:

  • Buddy’s sweet spaghetti from the movie Elf
  • Sardines on crackers, with blueberries
  • Pulled pork and vanilla ice cream
  • Doritos dipped in clam chowder
  • Dill pickles dipped in grape jelly
  • Pickles and Peanut Butter
  • Canned cheese on powdered doughnuts
  • Pizza dipped in icing
  • Twinkies dipped in ranch dressing
  • Dog treats
  • Nutella on a burrito

If you’ve been craving something that seems unnatural, know that you aren’t alone at all! Some women even experience intense cravings for non-food items—this is a condition called pica, and it is somewhat common.

Pica Pregnancy Cravings

The word “pica” is Latin for “magpie,” which is a bird famous for eating just about anything. This is an incredibly accurate name for this condition because women with pica crave things that aren’t actually edible. The most common pica cravings are:

  • Ice
  • Dirt or clay
  • Soap or laundry detergent
  • Paint chips
  • Ashes
  • Clothes
  • Plants
  • Paper
  • Coffee grounds
  • Cornstarch

Again, pica is somewhat common, so it’s not something to stress about—but you should not indulge in these cravings. They’re harmful to both you and your baby, so if you crave non-food items, you should call your doctor right away. It could signify that you have an iron deficiency or are short on another vital nutrient.

When your body fails to produce sufficient red blood cells for proper oxygen transport, you probably suffer from a condition known as anemia. Anemia can stem from iron deficiency, which is what those ice cravings could indicate. If your physician believes you have pre-natal anemia, they might refer you to a hematologist.

Calming Your Cravings

Managing intense food cravings can be very difficult—after all, you feel like you deserve it, right? While you probably do, it’s important not to indulge too much. The best way to combat cravings is to treat them like normal, non-pregnant cravings—everything in moderation. A little ice cream or a few potato chips won’t hurt you, just don’t overdo it!

Healthy Foods for Pregnancy

Outside of your cravings, try to ensure you’re eating healthy foods safe for pregnancy and maintaining a balanced pregnancy diet. Start your day right with a big, healthy breakfast, and make sure you’re eating good-for-you snacks throughout the day. Some foods that can be delicious while helping you to stay healthy are:

  • Dark leafy greens rich in folic acid
  • Peanut butter—which you might already be craving and is packed with necessary protein!
  • Certain foods rich in vitamin c, like citrus and other fruits
  • Whole grains

If you’re craving sweets, make sure you’re keeping up with flossing, brushing, and regular dental visits! The good news? These intense cravings usually let up after the first trimester—so hang in there!

For Further Advice on Pregnancy Cravings + More

Our maternal medical care team in the Women and Children’s Pavilion at RMC in Anniston welcomes more than 2,000 newborns each year. We have a team of specially trained OB Nurses, board-certified physicians, and top-of-the-line labor, delivery, and recovery care systems.

For all the advice and support you need for pregnancy, delivery, infant care, and maternal nutrition contact Regional Medical Center—and check out more on our maternity blog—today!