Every pregnancy journey is unique, and so are the cravings that accompany it. From sour and savory to sweet treats, each woman will have their preference. In most, these cravings start during the first trimester, and understanding cravings is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy cravings are completely normal and can even be an early sign of pregnancy. Let’s dive deeper.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Diana Rangaves writes for 21Ninety’s as a health and wellness expert. She is a pharmacist, philanthropist, and ethics professor turned writer, holding a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of California. She also serves as the Executive Editor and Chief Content Officer for Healthcare Worldwide Central and has published several works in medical and pharmaceutical publications, academic books, as well as, scholarly articles.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

Women usually start having pregnancy cravings in their first trimester while others do in the second trimester, and those cravings may start declining in the third trimester. One thing to note is that every woman is different, so these time windows and the food you crave will vary. Why do pregnant women have cravings? There is little research on why specific cravings take over during pregnancy, and surprisingly, not all women will even have cravings.

What Are Pregnancy Cravings and What Causes Them?

Pregnancy cravings are urges to consume a specific type of food that goes beyond hunger. As a pregnant woman, you cannot stop thinking about eating that vanilla ice cream; your body feels like you need it to survive the next hour. Most women experience cravings for a specific food, but what could be the reason? Some possible reasons for these cravings could be the changes in your body’s nutritional needs requiring more nutrients. An additional possible reason for these cravings is linked to the surge in your pregnancy hormones, which affect your smell, taste and appetite, leading you to want more foods than others.

The Common Foods Women Crave During Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy could cause blood sugar dips. These changes could lead to you having some cravings for comfort food. Some common food cravings pregnant women have include:

Pickle Cravings

It is a classic and most common pregnancy craving. Most pregnant women will almost always have a pickles jar in their kitchen; something about the high sodium in the pickles satisfies pregnant women. The high sodium intake may help with muscle cramps; however, too much intake could put you at risk of preeclampsia. This is a pregnancy complication that leads to high blood pressure, which is unsafe for the baby and the mother. Therefore, it is essential to control the indulgence of this common craving.

Sweet Cravings

Some pregnant women automatically develop a sweet tooth, from chocolates and sweets to all other sweet things. It is okay to indulge, though you should aim for controlled portions. This is because too much intake may lead to you gaining weight and increasing the risk of gestational diabetes.

Dairy Cravings

These may include yogurts, ice creams, milk and cheese. Although intake of dairy products is suitable for your baby’s health as calcium helps in bone development, you should avoid taking dairy products made from unpasteurized milk. These may contain listeria bacteria, which is unsafe. Also, it’s important to find out which cheese is safe for consumption if you are craving cheese.

Spicy Food Cravings

Spicy foods are a vibrant delicacy to enjoy, and it’s a common craving amongst pregnant women. But while it is certainly not unexpected to crave spicy foods, it may sometimes cause discomfort, such as pregnancy heartburn. If the food is causing heartburn, you should limit its intake.

Carbohydrates Craving

Pregnancy can be physically draining, and you might crave carbohydrates to refuel your energy. As you consume these, ensure to eat wholegrain bread and pasta as they are fiber-rich and help reduce constipation.

Fruits Cravings

This might be one of the best cravings you could have, as these are essential in your baby’s development. You should consume around five portions of fruits and vegetables daily, whether frozen, dried, juiced, or fresh. They are great for you and your baby’s health in any form.

Fast Food Cravings

There’s no judgment here. During your pregnancy, you may find it impossible to ignore your desire to indulge in your favorite fast food like Mcdonald’s or Wendy’s because you’re eating for two. While you’re more than welcome to consume this craving, do your best to make sure it’s occasional.

Can I Have Weird Cravings?

Every woman is different, and as some pregnant women crave chocolates and dairy, some will have some weird cravings. Some include non-food items such as ash, clay, dirt, paint chips and laundry detergents. This could be a sign of nutritional deficiency and you should speak to your doctor immediately, who will advise you on what to eat to supplement that deficiency.

What Should I Do About Food Cravings?

It is expected to have these cravings and they do not necessarily mean that your body has a deficiency. Ensure you follow a healthy diet and eat various healthy foods and vegetables with the proper nutrients. If you have food cravings, indulging is okay, but ensure you do not fall into the trap of eating for two and consuming too much. Eat healthy portions, drink water and manage your stress levels, which will help control your cravings and stress eating.

Is It Normal To Not Have Pregnancy Cravings?

Pregnancy cravings, although they affect most women, not all will experience these cravings. Some women may also experience food aversions, which is normal. This is the opposite of food cravings, where sometimes you cannot tolerate the smell of certain foods or its taste. However, there is no specific underlying reason why this happens.

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey and it is unique for every woman. You may crave something you hate and hate what you love. You must involve your healthcare provider, who will advise you on any required supplements and monitor your health for a healthy pregnancy.