Women's Healthcare Topics

Is it Normal to Get Weird Cravings During Pregnancy?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Causes of Food Cravings

Most women will experience food cravings at some point or another during pregnancy. In fact as many as half of all women will crave some type of cuisine or unusual food product during pregnancy. The most popular cravings include sweet and salty foods, while other women report craving spicy or fatty foods. Why all the cravings?

There are many reasons that women experience food cravings during pregnancy. Perhaps the simplest explanation is your body is working twenty four hours a day seven days a week to grow a healthy baby. Some cravings are simply the result of your body's needs for additional calories during pregnancy.

Other cravings may signal nutritional deficiencies. Some women for example, even vegetarians, might experience unusual cravings for steak and red meat during pregnancy. This could simply be a sign that their bodies need more iron to help support their growing baby. Many women will crave food they will loath or wouldn't dream of touching when not pregnant.

Many women describe their pregnancy cravings as overpowering. While scientists haven't yet established why cravings are so strong among pregnant women, they certainly acknowledge that food cravings during pregnancy are the norm rather than the exception to the rule.

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Dealing With Cravings During Pregnancy

Learn about the unusual food cravings in pregnancy.

Many women find it simpler to give in to their pregnancy related cravings. This doesn't suggest you have to overindulge (say eat a whole chocolate cake). But, if you are carving sweet foods, why not indulge a little and enjoy a small treat? Typically this is the best way to deal with cravings. There is nothing wrong in most cases with indulging even bizarre cravings (pickles and ice cream for example). Hormones can do many interesting and wonderful things to the body, but also produce some rather bizarre food cravings. Just don't expect your partner to jump on the bandwagon and join you when you start eating foods that are out of the ordinary.

Occasionally women experience weird cravings that signal they are deficient in certain nutrients. Vary rarely women have strange cravings for substances that are bad including dirt or other undesirable substances. This condition, often referred to in the medical community as "pica" usually signifies that someone is deficient in iron. Substantial cravings for ice may be a sign of an iron deficiency. Still other women may experience chocolate cravings which may be normal or a sign that women need more B vitamins. Still other patients desire large quantities of protein. Fortunately protein is very good for pregnant women and in most cases there is nothing wrong with indulging your cravings.

If however you find you are craving clay or dirt (pica) consult with your doctor. Other common strange cravings among women with this disorder include coffee grounds, plaster, toothpaste, paint chips or other unusual substances. Your doctor can test you for a condition called iron deficiency anemia, and may recommend additional supplementation to help relieve your cravings. Whatever you do don't indulge in these weird cravings. Your body will not benefit by eating laundry starch or paint chips! Quite the opposite!

Remember, by and large most cravings are harmless and easily cured by a little attention to one's diet and occasional indulgence. There is no reason to deprive yourself after all during pregnancy!


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