Common Cravings in Pregnancy

People love to joke about pregnancy cravings – we’ve all heard the one about eating ice cream with pickles – but it is a fact of early pregnancy that a lot of women do get cravings for (or aversions to) certain things, whether unusual food items, a sudden need for ice cream in the middle of the night or even the desire to eat things that are not a foodstuff at all! Read on to find out more about what these cravings may mean, if anything, what the most common cravings are and what you can do to help yourself deal with aversions or pregnancy cravings.

What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?

It is commonly accepted that pregnancy cravings are triggered by changes in your hormones. Your body goes through a huge amount of change and adjustment as your pregnancy progresses, and this includes changes to the tastes and foods that you enjoy. Some foods that you previously enjoyed may suddenly be off the menu, while you might want to eat certain other types food much more than before. Changes in hormones can also trigger other events, like morning sickness, and even your sense of smell.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

There isn’t a set time for pregnancy cravings to kick in, but if you’re going to experience them, it is more likely that they will happen during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is when your body starts experiencing lots of hormonal changes. The cravings generally become stronger as your pregnancy progresses into the second trimester, but tend to ease off and even disappear as you enter the third trimester. Of course, some women do not experience any cravings during pregnancy.

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Common Pregnancy Cravings

You are probably curious as to what other mums-to-be in the UK are having cravings for. Ice cream and pickles have already had a mention, but these are some of the most common food items that women have reported having cravings for:

UK Top 10 Common Cravings

  • Chocolate

  • Fruit

  • Ice lollies

  • Cake

  • Fizzy drinks

  • Ice cream

  • Spicy food

  • Biscuits

  • Desserts

  • Chips

Those are the common ones! You will see that these are all quite edible and harmless. It’s especially important to try and maintain a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy to make sure that you get all the vitamins and minerals needed to support you both, but there is nothing wrong with indulging in your pregnancy cravings in moderation.

top pregnancy cravings

Other Types of Cravings

You may crave some weird food combinations, or large quantities of food that might not be so healthy, such as chips. If you can, try to keep fatty foods to a minimum, balancing them with other types of food such as fresh fruit and vegetables and wholesome meals. Some cravings can be harder to deal with, especially the strange cravings for inedible items such as coal and toothpaste. If you find yourself in this position, it is best to speak to your midwife or GP to see if you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients that you need. The NHS suggest that cravings for inedible items may be a sign of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Your GP or midwife can test to see if you are vitamin deficient and recommend any supplements if necessary.

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What Not to Eat When Pregnant

Strange Tastes and Aversions

Many women find that their sense of taste changes during pregnancy – and this can lead to avoiding some types of food altogether. It is quite common, for instance, to go off strong tastes such as tea and coffee. Don’t worry if you are put off by the coffee that you used to enjoy! You will probably find that you will come to enjoy it again after your baby is born. While on the subject of strong tastes, there are some foodstuffs that you might want to give a miss while you’re expecting. You can take a look at what not to eat while pregnant in our handy guide. There are certain types of food that are best to avoid – you might even have developed a lucky aversion to some already.

 

In summary

Cravings tend to start in the first trimester, get stronger in the second and disappear in the third. They are thought to be caused by hormonal changes in your body. There are lots of different types of food cravings, and you should be okay if you enjoy them in moderation. Talk to your GP or midwife if you find that you are craving inedible things, like coal; it could be a sign of vitamin deficiency. There are also some types of food that are not good for you during pregnancy and you may want to avoid these as well.

 

How to Deal With Pregnancy Cravings

A good coping strategy for dealing with pregnancy cravings is to have a little of what you fancy in small amounts, along with a good, well-balanced diet. There are lots of healthy substitutes for different tastes, including fruit instead of sweets, a couple of squares of dark chocolate instead of a bar of whole-milk chocolate, and oven chips instead of deep-fried ones. Eating for two is a common pregnancy myth, and you will want to continue to eat healthily throughout your pregnancy. Why not try our handy pregnancy weight gain calculator to help you keep track of your pregnancy weight gain?

healthy food swaps for pregnancy cravings

FAQS AT A GLANCE

Cravings usually start in the first trimester of pregnancy, get stronger in the second and disappear by the third trimester.

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy cravings can be an annoyance, but they are not permanent and usually don’t last beyond the second trimester. You can enjoy them in moderation – and if the cravings aren’t great for your diet, you can always try swapping them for healthier food items with similar tastes. It is good to know that pregnancy cravings are (usually) not dangerous and at times can be quite funny! Feel free to ignore them if you can. Your midwife or GP will always be happy to discuss your diet and cravings, and may even be able to add tips of their own to help you cope with this aspect of your pregnancy.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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