From pickles and ice cream to pizza…food cravings are common for pregnant women. So what’s behind these cravings?

It’s unclear what exactly what causes food cravings during pregnancy. They may be related to all hormones that are active in pregnancy. These hormones can make your sense of smell stronger, which can affect your sense of taste and make you want certain foods.

How Do You Curb Cravings?

How can you handle your food cravings? Here are some ways to help curb your food cravings:

  • Work your cravings into your everyday eating. Add salsa or relish to your meal for a bit of spice. Add sweetness with citrus fruits, melon and juices. 
  • Find healthier options. Instead of regular potato chips, try the reduced-fat kind. If you’re looking for something crunchy, go for carrots or a crisp apple. Try fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Don’t buy in bulk. When you can, buy single servings of foods you crave. Don’t buy a whole bag of chocolate candy. Just buy one or two pieces.
  • Plan your snacks. Knowing what and when you’re going to eat between meals gives you something to look forward to.
  • Distract yourself. Do something to take your mind off your craving. Go for a walk. Call a friend.

What If You Crave Nonfoods?

Some pregnant women crave things that aren’t food. This kind of eating problem is called pica. Eating nonfoods during pregnancy can cause problems for you and your baby. If you’re filling up on nonfoods, they may not be safe. And they may make you feel full, which may keep you from eating healthier foods. 

Nonfoods include:

  • Ice
  • Clay
  • Laundry starch
  • Wax
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dirt

If you crave nonfoods, tell your healthcare provider.

What About a Food Aversion?

A food aversion is the opposite of a craving. Instead of wanting to eat a certain food really badly, you don’t want to eat it at all. Just like cravings, many pregnant women have food aversions. You may find that you have aversions to foods with really strong smells, like onions, garlic, coffee, hamburgers and eggs. Or you may have liked a food before pregnancy but can’t stand it now. Most women go back to the foods they used to like after pregnancy. But sometimes the aversion can stick with you for a long time, even after your baby is born.

Your food aversions could also be associated with morning sickness. According to a study published in the journal Appetite, nausea and food aversions begin at the same time in pregnancy for the majority of women.

Finally…

Regardless of whether or not you have cravings…pregnant women should remember that they are eating for two. It’s important for pregnant women to be striving for a balanced diet. We are here to help! Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. 

(Some information provided by March of Dimes).