Pregnancy Cravings: What Causes Them & What Are the Most Common Cravings?
If you are currently (or have been) pregnant, then we don’t have to tell you that pregnancy cravings can be intense at times.
You might be sitting on the couch watching TV when a commercial for your favorite Italian restaurant pops up. Now, all of a sudden, you HAVE to have that big plate of spaghetti and meatballs. The craving is almost too much to resist. You may even go so far as to send your spouse out to pick up a take-out order.
What, exactly, causes these crazy pregnancy cravings for very specific (and sometimes very bizarre) combinations of food? Scientists have some theories that we’ll share below, but truth be told, it’s all somewhat of a mystery.
What causes pregnancy cravings?
Hormones definitely play a role in cravings. You have more hormones and many hormonal changes during pregnancy, which can spark various food cravings. Another reason you may crave a certain food is because of a vitamin or mineral deficiency in your body.
Usually, cravings start during the first trimester (they can even begin before you know you’re pregnant!), but they can last throughout the entire pregnancy. You may also have different cravings during different trimesters depending on what your body needs at the time.
Most common foods women crave when they’re pregnant
There’s really no end to what you can crave as a pregnant woman. Sometimes, weird combinations like pickles and ice cream might sound as tasty as a filet mignon.
Here are 5 of the most common foods pregnant women crave:
- Chocolate. Who doesn’t like chocolate, pregnant or not? When you’re pregnant, though, the urge to grab a candy bar or even a cup of hot chocolate can be even stronger. Chocolate produces serotonin, which is known as your happy hormone, so it’s easy to see why many people gravitate towards it. If you are craving chocolate, try dark chocolate because it’s lower in sugar and has some health benefits.
- Spicy food. Many women find they crave spicy foods during pregnancy. Some eager mothers also load up on spicy food at the end of their pregnancy to try to induce labor. Spicy foods are fine to eat as long as they’re not all fried and they don’t cause major indigestion.
- Diary. It’s common to crave ice cream, yogurt and cheese when you’re pregnant. If you find yourself constantly reaching for dairy, make sure you don’t have a calcium deficiency. Also, try to substitute some healthier dairy options like Greek yogurt or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit on top.
- Sour food. Believe it or not, lemons are one of the most craved foods among pregnant women. Since they’re pretty acidic and can make heartburn worse, we recommend adding it to your water or other foods if you’re craving a lemon, rather than eating a whole lemon by itself. Pickles are another common sour and salty food pregnant women crave. They’re actually a pretty healthy snack, so this is one craving you can feel free to indulge in.
- Fruit. Some women crave fruit when they’re pregnant. Oranges and orange juice is an especially common craving. Oranges are full of vitamin C, which helps keep you and your baby’s immune systems strong. Another wise choice would be any type of berries because they have less sugar and are chock full of antioxidants.
Keep your pregnancy cravings in check
There are times when pregnant women start craving things that aren’t healthy and, in fact, might be bad for both them and the baby. Some cravings might not even be for food. This is a condition called “pica.” If you are craving strange things like dirt, chalk, soap or crayons, talk to your doctor right away to get checked for vitamin deficiencies.
As long as your cravings stay within healthy boundaries for you and your baby, don’t be afraid to indulge them some. Just be careful not to overindulge any single craving, keeping a good and healthy balance for you and your baby.
If you have any questions or concerns about certain foods or cravings, talk to your obstetrician. Our team at Premier Obstetrics and Gynecology is here to help and answer any pregnancy questions you may have. Make an appointment at our Maitland, Oviedo, or Lake Mary office today.
Valerie Ramsay, CNM
Valerie Ramsay, CNM, is a board-certified nurse midwife at Premier Obstetrics and Gynecology in Maitland and Oviedo, Florida. She is proud to empower women and encourage them to be active participants in their own healthcare. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Premier OB-GYN family.
Valerie graduated from Valencia College in Orlando with her associate degree in nursing, where she earned an award for the highest overall GPA. Valerie then pursued her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Polk State College in Winter Haven, Florida, where she earned cum laude honors. She received her master’s degree in nurse-midwifery from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio in 2019.
Valerie has worked as a nurse in the obstetric field for the past 15 years and considers it her passion and personal calling. She chose to pursue midwifery because she felt a deep passion to care for women and their families.
Valerie is happily married and is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Paige and Jacob.