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Things You Didn’t Know About Food Cravings During Pregnancy

Leena Palande Nov 20, 2018
Extremely weird cravings during pregnancy include laundry detergent, starch, and even dirt! Read on to know about the most common food cravings during pregnancy and what they mean.
Almost all pregnant women experience food cravings during pregnancy. In fact, they are one of the early and important symptoms of pregnancy. Their exact cause, experienced during pregnancy, is unknown, but it mainly indicates nutritional deficiency.
Scientists are still researching on 'pica cravings', cravings for foods that are low in nutrition (or nutrition-less foods), or cravings for non-food items like chalk, ice, etc.

Pregnancy and Food Cravings

Chocolate and Sweet Food

Most pregnant women feel like eating 'something sweet'. Chocolate and ice-cream cravings are common during pregnancy. You might think that it is just an indulgence.
Chocolates stimulate release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Release of serotonin makes you feel happy and it helps increase the feeling of well-being. Moreover, chocolate cravings indicate magnesium deficiency. It has been proved that scarcity of various minerals or essential elements like chromium, carbon, sulfur, or phosphorus results in sugar cravings.

Spicy food

Craving for spicy food during pregnancy indicates that your body needs something to maintain its temperature. Your body may be unable to regulate its temperature due to deficiency of zinc. Your body may be giving out signals through cravings during pregnancy. However, instead of eating only hot and spicy food, you should follow a healthy pregnancy diet.

Red Meat

Meat cravings indicate that your body needs more protein. You should include sufficient lean pieces of meat, like chicken, pork, beef, turkey, lamb, fish along with eggs, and supply enough protein to your body.
You can also eat legumes, lentils, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread, oat bran, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, etc., so that you will feel satiated for a longer period of time.


Craving for peaches, strawberries, or cantaloupes indicates deficiency of beta carotene.
All yellow, orange, or red fruits contain beta carotene, and beta carotene rich foods are good sources of vitamin A. You should not neglect food cravings, but you should try to understand what your body is really trying to tell you.

Pica Cravings

Craving for non-food items, like laundry detergent, chalks, dirt, soap, toothpaste, coal, cigarette butts, etc., is termed as 'pica cravings'. They can affect the health of the mother and the baby seriously.
It is believed that weird cravings during pregnancy arise out of calcium or iron deficiencies. Sometimes, women eat non-food items because they desperately need something to overcome nausea and vomiting.

Salty Snacks and Sour Pickles

These are the most common food cravings; but they actually indicate scarcity of sodium and vitamin C in the body. Most pregnant women love eating salty snacks, sour pickles, dairy products, tomatoes, tomato sauce, lemon, cheese, etc.

Why Do Pregnant Women Crave for Certain Foods

Vitamins and mineral deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, emotional needs may cause food cravings during pregnancy. The body of the pregnant woman needs more nutrients and more calories. While warding off pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, pregnant women should not fall prey to pica cravings. They should also try to avoid nutrition-less food items.
Though pregnant women need extra calories and nutrients, going crazy with sugar or salty foods should be avoided. Consumption of those foods, which should actually be avoided during pregnancy may lead to certain health problems. Overweight women should especially stay away from foods rich in fat and sugar. 
Pregnant women can opt for low fat versions of food items. Instead of eating chocolate, they may add some low-fat chocolate sauce on fruits and enjoy the flavor. Along with chicken and eggs, they should include lots of nuts, seeds, dry fruits, fresh fruits, and vegetables in the diet to overcome vitamins and minerals deficiencies.
Pregnant women should consult a doctor in case of weird cravings or if they have any doubts regarding vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Healthy diet plays an important role in the health of both the mother and the fetus.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.