Are you craving pickles and ice cream? This seems to be the most talked about craving that women might have during pregnancy, but there are certainly many more food options and combinations that might be appealing to your taste buds during these 9 months. Cravings during pregnancy appear to be part cultural expectations about pregnancy, part changes in hormones, and part nutritional needs. If you have cravings during pregnancy they are also likely to change as you move from one semester to the next.
Food Cravings and Aversions During the First Trimester
The first trimester of pregnancy is loaded with changes in hormones. These hormonal changes have many roles, and one of the side effects of these hormone surges are changes to the taste buds. Your taste buds are responsible for interpreting the food you taste and eat, and higher hormone levels can change how food tastes to you, as well as how it smells. For these reasons it is not uncommon to have both food cravings and food aversions during the first trimester. You may even experience nausea and vomiting as a reaction to foods you might normally prefer. This morning sickness can strike at any time of day and last all day, for that entire first trimester.
Are My Food Cravings Normal?
Every pregnancy is unique and each woman might have her own cravings. There are, however, some common cravings that pregnant women seem to share.
Sweets and chocolate – Some pregnant women crave chocolate because it is an indulgence they are allowed, unlike alcohol, during pregnancy. Other women feel liberated because they don’t feel like they have to count every calorie during pregnancy. Just be sure you aren’t really eating for two when it comes to sweets or you put you and your baby at risk for things like diabetes and obesity.
Salty foods – Some believe that pregnant women crave things like pickles or potato chips because they are lacking sodium and the body is alerting you to this fact by craving salty foods. However, a lot of the time it can be in response to hormone levels or just the desire for something crunchy to eat. Pickles are the better option as they are much lower in calories than potato chips.
Ice cream – This might go hand in hand with the pickles, or perhaps it falls under the category of sweet cravings for you. Again, it is sometimes thought that intense cravings for ice cream signal a need for calcium, but it is just as often (if not more) the result of wanting the combination of a sweet treat with something cool, especially if you’re in your last trimester when the weather is particularly hot. Try to treat yourself to frozen yogurt with fresh fruit instead of chocolate ice cream with hot fudge sauce.
Spicy foods – It is not uncommon to crave spicy foods during pregnancy, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the hot peppers you used to refuse. It is believed that pregnant women may crave spicy foods because the natural reaction of the body to eating spicy foods is to sweat (which actually cools the body). If you’re in your 2nd or 3rd trimesters your body might be craving a food that will help you sweat naturally and cool down your expectant body.
Fruits and Veggies – Foods such as watermelons and cucumbers provide your body with healthy options that are slightly sweet and refreshing. The next time you’re getting a craving for ice cream, see if your body responds well to a bowl of grapes or peaches, satisfying that need for sweet mixed with a cooling snack.
Cravings during pregnancy are considered fairly normal and harmless, as long you eat in moderation and consume healthy foods that your body needs for the growth and development of your baby. If you find yourself craving wood chips, crayons, dirt, or other non-edible items, speak with your healthcare provider immediately as it could be a sign of a potentially dangerous condition called pica.