Whether you’ve heard stories or experienced it firsthand, it’s no secret that women crave certain, and sometimes seemingly random, foods during pregnancy.
For example, Reddit users have reported the urge to drink a bowl of gravy, put mayonnaise on everything (something I used to hate), and even eat ice cream with olives. One TikTok user loves dipping chicken and rice in peanut butter. You can’t forget pairings like Nutella-soaked pickles and caramelized beef jerky.
There’s no shame in having these desires, but it’s natural to wonder what’s causing them. Here, we share everything your gynecologist needs to know.
The most common foods that pregnant people crave
In general, the five most popular food groups are sweets, carbohydrates, animal protein, fruit, and dairy, said Dr. Tiffany Pham, medical advisor for women’s health app Flo. “While specific cravings like candied pickles, bananas, and ketchup may be popular on TikTok, these foods represent aspects of typical cravings seen during pregnancy,” she said. told Yahoo Life.
Not surprisingly, one of the classic cravings, although not included in these food groups, is pickles. The only thing to keep in mind is to watch out for salt, Pham adds. “Too much salt can worsen water retention during pregnancy, increasing the risk of gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, and negatively impacting your baby’s health.”
Certain foods are more common than others, but there’s nothing wrong with having these cravings. “For some people, it’s food groups like sweets, carbohydrates, and meat; for others, it’s something very specific like pickles and Cheetos,” says Dr. Dr. Chelva Prabhakar, Luna Daily’s medical advisor, told Yahoo Life.
When does pregnancy-related appetite typically occur?
Prabhakar notes that these cravings can occur at any time and even change from trimester to trimester, but Pham says the first trimester is the most dangerous time. “Typically, these symptoms tend to begin at the end of the first trimester, but in some women symptoms may begin as early as the fifth week of pregnancy and intensify during the second trimester,” says Pham. says.
According to Pham, research shows that “symptoms tend to weaken during the third trimester and disappear after the baby is born.”
Why do pregnant women crave such specific foods?
Prabhakar has heard his fair share of theories that take into account the major physiological changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. “A spike in pregnancy hormone levels can cause changes in your taste buds,” she says. “Some women crave what their bodies are nutritionally deficient in. For example, women who are low in iron may crave red meat.”
However, Pham does not believe that nutritional deficiencies are always the culprit. She says that although appetite is most common in the first and early second trimesters, most of the fetal growth occurs in the second half of pregnancy, and this correlates with an increased need for certain nutritional foods. states. She also believes it makes sense for pregnant women to crave vitamin-rich foods, but found that sweets and carbohydrates are more often sought after.
Other theories point to more emotional reasons, with one University of Albany study suggesting that cravings may be more psychological than just cultural. “In a generally overnourished society, pregnancy needs can also serve emotional needs,” Prabhakar says. “Society generally encourages pregnant women to eat more, but whether it’s real or not, it doesn’t help the whole idea of craving certain foods.”
However, Prabhakar believes there is no single clear reason for these desires. “There are old wives’ tales that try to explain this phenomenon, but for most women who have an appetite, we have no idea why,” she says.
Can anyone who is pregnant experience an appetite?
Between 50% and 90% of pregnant women report feeling an appetite.Cravings seem like a given during pregnancy, but they don’t necessarily happen to everyone Prabhakar says:
“Everyone’s pregnancy process is different, and hormonal influences vary so much from person to person that until more research is done, we have to trust moms’ opinions that this desire is real,” she says.