Pregnancy is probably one of the only times (if not the only time) it’s perfectly normal for you to crave anything and everything you’ve never felt the urge to have before. Fortunately enough, you won’t be called crazy for it.
You’re sitting there at your desk getting some work done, while suddenly a tremendous feeling takes over and you lose all sense of productivity because you can’t think of anything else but devouring that piece of chocolate cake you have in the fridge – one that’s not yours in the first place, but that’s the least of your worries right now.
Again – no, you’re not going crazy, momma! As a matter of fact, research shows that anywhere between 50% to 90% of women experience some sort of food craving when pregnant – to varying degrees, of course.
So, if you’ve developed a sweet tooth you’re struggling to tame, look no further – we’ve got everything you need to know right here.
When Do Food Cravings Start In Pregnancy?
Most pregnant women report experiencing some sort of food cravings during their first trimester, and often early on in the first trimester as opposed to later on. You can expect to experience food cravings as soon as 2 to 3 weeks into your pregnancy.
From there on, it’s an uphill battle you’ll have to face, as these cravings will continue to gather momentum into your second trimester – where they’ll show their true colors and all their might – and will eventually begin to die down in your third trimester.
What About Food Aversions?
As for food aversions, which are the exact opposite of food cravings, these can also start as soon as 2 to 3 weeks into a pregnancy.
While certain food textures and smells of food being cooked may cause cravings in one mom-to-be, these same textures and smells may trigger nausea in another pregnant woman and result in a food aversion.
What If I Don’t Experience Food Cravings? Is That Normal Too?
Yes, It’s perfectly normal if you go through your entire pregnancy without having experienced any sort of food craving at all.
Not all pregnant women necessarily have to experience food cravings.
With 50% to 90% of women estimated to experience food cravings during pregnancy, that leaves anywhere between 10% to 50% of pregnant women who go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies without having gone through any of this.
This is especially true if you’re one of the women to experience relatively more intense morning sickness throughout pregnancy.
Intense morning sickness will actually do the opposite and result in food aversions instead of cravings.
Will These Cravings Continue After I Give Birth?
Fortunately, the answer to that question most of the times is NO.
If you ask your doctor, they’ll likely tell you that rare are the cases where women report carrying their pregnancy-cravings on with them to the postpartum world.
Is This Normal? Or Should I Be Worried About It?
As long as it’s edible foot that you’re craving, you most likely have nothing to worry about as this is all a perfectly normal part of pregnancy. The most you should do is laugh about it and not feel embarrassed.
However, and once you begin experiencing unusual and weird cravings such as ice, paper, clay, dirt and the like, you should probably talk to your doctor about it since it could be a sign of something that needs medical attention (such as iron deficiency).
Some pregnant women have reported having cravings to eat soap, believe it or not, so keep in mind that anything as unusual as this should be reported to a doctor straight away.
Also, if you ever begin craving alcohol or drugs, you should know that these two should be completely off-limits while pregnant, no matter how small the amount may be – the risk is just not worth taking.
This doesn’t happen as often as some of the other cravings do, especially carbohydrate-heavy and high fat foods that are loaded with calories, but should be noted nonetheless.
Again, talk to your doctor about things if – at any given time – you begin feeling like the cravings are just too much to handle and you’re about to crumble down to pressure.
They’ll be able to recommend any possible supplementation you may need at the time to fight these cravings, as well as other best practices that ensure your safety and that of the baby growing inside of you.
Talking to your doctor about these issues becomes especially important when you have a condition such as gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Why Do These Food Cravings Happen?
As of this writing, there’s no one answer to this question that experts agree on. It could be any one of a whole host of factors that come into play when you’re pregnant and changes your body goes through during this phase.
1) Hormonal Changes
However, and as you’ve probably heard countless times before, most people tend to blame these food cravings on hormonal changes the body goes through during pregnancy.
There’s also the possibility of malnutrition and this being one of the ways your body tries to notify you that it needs more of certain nutrients.
For example, some experts believe that unusually craving salty foods while pregnant might signal a deficiency in sodium.
For this reason, it’s exceptionally important for you to be taking your prenatal vitamins during pregnancy.
Depending on what kind of diet you follow throughout pregnancy and the type of food you eat, you’re not always able to keep up with your body’s need for specific vitamins and minerals – which is where prenatal vitamins step in and shine.
You might just be a stress eater without actually knowing it.
Let’s face it, pregnancy is a very difficult and stressful time, and food (especially the yummy stuff) can easily make us feel better and temporarily ease stress.
Some days are much more stressful than others during pregnancy, so this could also explain why these cravings come and go.
What Should I Do About Them?
1) Draw A Red Line
Eventually, and even though all sorts of food cravings during pregnancy are completely normal, you’ll have to draw a red line somewhere.
If you just give in to all the cravings that come your way, you’ll be gaining weight in lightning speed – and not exactly the kind of weight you want to be gaining during pregnancy for the development of your baby.
We’re talking becoming overweight to the point you now have to shed some pounds to ensure a healthy pregnancy – and that’s not fun.
Trust me, if you carry those excess pounds with you till after you give birth, and with everything else you’ll have going on for you during postpartum, the last thing you’ll have energy for is weight problems.
So, go easy on everything it is that you’re munching on, and be mindful of the calories you’re taking in vs. the calories that you’re burning in a day’s time.
At the end of the day, ensuring you eat a healthy and nutritious diet throughout your pregnancy is extremely important, both for your own well being and to give your growing baby everything they need to properly develop before they come out of your tummy to the real world.
Having a kick and indulging in your cravings in moderation every now and then is perfectly fine, though. Pregnancy is a very difficult and stressful time, one where you need to cheat a little bit every now and then to keep your sanity!
2) Keeping Yourself Busy
This may sound like it’s easier said than done, but keeping yourself busy and distracting yourself from your cravings actually goes a long way in fending them off.
How you choose to distract yourself and keep yourself busy is completely up to you, though, as there’s no set book of rules you should follow.
This is going to differ from one mom-to-be to another depending on personal preference.
For some of you, this may mean indulging in reading your favorite book and taking more “me time” off for yourself on a daily basis, while for others this may mean increasing your physical activity levels on a daily basis.
3) Limit Exposure To Temptations
It also goes without saying that you should do whatever you can to help yourself avoid cravings – such as not exposing yourself to these temptations in the first place.
Sometimes just smelling something (whether that’s in your own kitchen or in a restaurant) can trigger a never ending circle of cravings that you can really do without.
4) Eat Small, Frequent Meals
You’ve surely been told about the importance of eating small – yet frequent – meals throughout the day during pregnancy.
It helps with a whole host of pregnancy related problems such as helping with digestion, keeping morning sickness suppressed as much as possible, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Unstable blood sugar levels that crash often trigger cravings for sugar-rich foods, so you should pay attention to your diet to make sure you do everything you can to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping.
What Can I Expect To Crave Most?
This is most likely going to differ from one pregnant woman to another. Even experts in the field have a difficult time pinpointing the exact reason(s) why some pregnant women crave certain tastes, flavors and textures, and others crave completely different ones.
With that being said, there do seem to be a few interesting patterns involved.
First of all, carbohydrate-heavy foods seem to be very commonly craved during pregnancy.
And we’re not talking about the good sources of carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, we’re talking about the ones we’re always trying to avoid to keep our waistline slim – such as ice cream, doughnuts, french fries (and fast food in general), etc …
2) The 4 S’s
Also, and if you’re like the majority of pregnant women, you’ll find that your cravings belong to any one of the 4 S’s, where you’ll desire either sweet food, salty food, spicy food or sour food (or more than one type at the same time, in some cases).
3) Not Related To Earlier Pregnancies
There also doesn’t seem to be any correlation between what you used to crave in your previous pregnancy (or pregnancies) and what you should expect to crave this time around.
It’s literally one of the most random roller-coasters you could ever ride – you never know what your body has in store for you!
4) The Weirdest Things
Another important note: don’t be alarmed and don’t start panicking if you experience the weirdest of cravings.
While all some pregnant women might want is 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream or a couple of pizza slices, others might have the urge to splash ketchup on their bowl of cereal for breakfast (yuck!).
It’s all normal, though, until you begin feeling like you desperately want to eat stuff that’s not edible in the first place, in which case you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible since you probably have a condition called “pica”.
You should also know that it’s perfectly normal if you crave different stuff in different days. You might be craving sweet food for 3 days straight, have your cravings go away for the next 2 days, only to then start craving salty stuff for the next 2 days after.
Just because your heart’s desiring stuff all over the place, left and right, doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong going on – cravings during pregnancy do not have to be consistent at all.