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2023-07-28 21:13:38

Pregnancy Cravings: This is Why You Need Pickles

If you've got a baby on the way, then maybe you've noticed something odd. You've got intense food cravings that you've never had before. Vanilla ice cream. Cream cheese. Pickle sandwiches with peanut butter. Salty potato chips. Hot Cheetos dipped in ranch dressing. Spicy food galore! What does it all mean? Why are you getting these weird pregnancy cravings? Why do you crave odd combinations of foods? And importantly, if you're itching to chow down on certain unhealthy foods, is that okay?

woman eating potato chips

Let's dive in!

Pregnancy Food Cravings: Myth or Reality?

First, let's answer an important question. Are pregnancy cravings even real, or are they just a myth that caught on?

Yes, pregnancy cravings — and sometimes really weird pregnancy cravings — are indeed real! But why do they happen?

What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?

While science hasn't yet agreed on the exact reason why pregnancy cravings happen, many believe it's because of the way the hormones in pregnant women fluctuate. They have a heightened sense of smell and taste, which leads to both cravings and food aversions.

Another reason why pregnant people might have certain cravings is that they're experiencing some sort of nutritional deficiency. The cravings are their bodies' way of telling them, "Hey, feed me!" For instance, if a woman can't stop craving chocolate ice cream, it might be because she needs more calcium. If she's craving lemons, she might need more vitamin C.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

To be clear, not everyone will experience pregnancy cravings. However, for women that do, it typically happens in the first trimester. That would be the first three months.

What Happens if You Ignore Pregnancy Cravings?

Most likely... nothing. Science hasn't yet found any evidence that ignoring your unbelievable food cravings for cream cheese and hot sauce and strawberry yogurt and Mexican food is dangerous for you or your baby. You might be cranky, but more than likely, that's about it!

To be extra safe, you can always consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that your food cravings have nothing to do with a nutritional deficiency.

What are the Most Common Pregnancy Cravings?

Again, we want to emphasize that every woman is different. However, common pregnancy cravings will generally fall into a few broad categories:

fast food

Just because many of these are traditionally "unhealthy foods" doesn't mean you can't crave healthy foods too. You've probably heard of pregnant people craving pickles — a fermented food that's full of good bacteria, which is great for your gut health.

Are Cravings Different When Carrying a Boy or Girl?

We hate to break it to you, but this one is a big myth. Science has found no evidence that pregnancy cravings for certain foods have any tie to the sex of your baby. The only things that can truly determine that are a blood test and a sonogram.

If you need a blood test to see if you're pregnant, order with eNational Testing today.

What if You're Craving Non Food Items?

Yes, your food cravings might not be food at all. Maybe you don't even care about peanut butter or ice cream anymore. Instead, you could be craving paper or hair.

This has a name — pica — and it's not all that uncommon. Additionally, it can happen to anyone, not just pregnant women. Pica is considered an eating disorder. Just like pregnancy cravings and food aversions, pica most commonly appears in the first trimester.

What kinds of non food items could you possibly crave?! As odd as it sounds, some people crave paint chips, chalk, dirt, ice, and even laundry detergent.

colorful chalk

If your pregnancy hormones are giving you some bizarre food cravings, talk to your doctor. You might be experiencing a nutrient deficiency. For instance, you might not be getting enough iron, zinc, or B vitamins.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

To have a healthy pregnancy, there are certain foods that most healthcare providers will tell you to avoid:

What are Pregnancy Food Aversions?

Just like you can start to have intense cravings, you can find certain foods disgusting — even foods that you normally love! We refer to these as food aversions.

These happen for the same reason you might start craving foods you don't normally: hormones. For instance, when you're pregnant, your body produces human gonadotropic (hCG). This hormone can trigger feelings of nausea and appetite changes, which can lead to food aversions.

In particular, a lot of pregnant women can't even stand the sight of foods like eggs, garlic, and meat — but everyone is different.

scrambled eggs

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with Food During Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, your body (and mind) go through so many changes. Some women fear excessive weight gain and intense pregnancy cravings only heighten that fear.

As long as you get the thumbs up from your healthcare provider, you're probably safe to satisfy your food cravings in moderation! Rather than panicking when pregnancy cravings start, listen to what your taste buds are telling you.

It's okay to have a little extra dark chocolate or a spoonful of peanut butter. You can even — gasp! — enjoy the occasional fast food item.

You should still prioritize fueling up with nutritious foods. After all, you're eating for two. Eating mindfully is important to keep you and your baby healthy.

But if you've got a specific food craving that just won't go away, it's acceptable and totally normal to satisfy it.

We know that pregnancy cravings can be strong, annoying, and sometimes, maybe even a little scary. If you're worried that your food cravings might be indicating a real problem, talk to your doctor! Other than that, enjoy your pickles with peanut butter and whatever other weird pregnancy cravings you're having. You deserve them.

If you're on the path to pregnancy, eNational testing is here for you. Learn more about our pregnancy blood tests and fertility tracking panel. You can order yours online in just a few clicks, and you don't even need to see your doctor first.

Plus, we have more than 2,000 locations across the United States. Find a testing center that's convenient for you!