Mother and Baby

The most popular food cravings during pregnancy (and their meanings!)

Pregnancy Cravings – What Do They Mean?

Food cravings during pregnancy are well documented and extremely common. In some cases, they can be entirely random, but sometimes when we crave certain foods, it is for a reason.

Cravings can be a way of our body asking for certain vitamins, nutrients and minerals that we may be lacking in. This means cravings can become heightened during pregnancy to ensure that the growing baby is getting the nutrients it needs. It is important you maintain a healthy diet and eat the right foods for every stage of pregnancy.

Health and fitness app Lifesum polled its users to find out what ladies most commonly craved while pregnant. Lovisa Nilsson, Lifesum’s in-house nutrition and fitness expert, helps explain the underlying causes of all those pregnancy cravings and also tells us how we can use exercise after birth to help shift post-baby weight if we have indulged in any of those not so healthy pregnancy cravings...

Pregnancy cravings and what they mean:

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1) Coal

When women crave non-food items during pregnancy, they could be suffering from a condition called Pica

This might seem odd but it’s more common than you would think and 14% of Lifesum users polled said they craved coal. “When women crave non-food items during pregnancy, they could be suffering from a condition called Pica,” says Lovisa. “The reason that women suffer from Pica is unknown, however, it could be that their iron levels are low as coal is rich in this mineral, for example; when women crave chalk it is often because they need calcium to support the skeletal growth of the baby.”
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2) Salty foods

Salty foods such as crisps and gherkins were the most commonly desired, with 24% of users noting it as a craving, but this could have just as much to do with comfort as craving.

“Craving salty foods, such as crisps or pickles, could mean that you’re low in sodium, but more often than not it can just be that you are desiring the taste of salty food. High levels of sodium can have negative effects on health, such as raising blood pressure, and so this is not a craving that you should succumb to too often,” says Lovisa. “Another common reason we reach for the salt is that we are dehydrated so ensure you are drinking a sufficient amount of water.”
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3) Red meat

“Many women will crave red meat when pregnant as it is a source of protein and iron, both of which they can often be lacking.” Just like Phoebe in friends, one user polled claimed to crave red meat despite being actually being a vegetarian!
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4) Citrus fruits

19% of users reported a craving for citrus fruits or sour foods and there is a simple reason why. “Women crave sour or spicy foods during pregnancy because of a change in the taste buds and they often like to shock to them, which is why they reach out for tangy citrus fruits or sour sweets.”
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5) Chocolate

Like ice-cream, chocolate is high in empty calories which as we said provide fast energy, so it’s no surprise that 12% of Lifesum users claimed that they craved the sweet stuff during pregnancy. However, though chocolate is a comfort food, this craving could imply something else.

“Chocolate is rich in vitamin B so women who are lacking B vitamins sometimes crave it, studies, however, have shown that you can get the same goodness from flaxseed oil, which is a healthier alternative even though it is probably the less tempting option! Craving sugary foods or sweets could also be caused by a drop in blood sugar.”
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6) Ice cream

The taste buds become more sensitive during pregnancy (which is why women can often develop an aversion to certain foods and also explains why indulgent foods become more tempting!), but a craving for ice-cream or any other dairy product can indicate low levels of calcium.

Ice cream is both light, cooling and provides fast energy

“High levels of calcium are needed for the baby to remain healthy as it grows. As it can be difficult for women to stomach the strong smell of cheese or even milk during pregnancy, they’ll often turn to ice-cream for their calcium fix,” explains Lovisa. “Additionally, pregnant women usually don’t want heavy cooked food and with its high fat and sugar content, ice cream is both light, cooling and provides fast energy.”

 

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  • Author: Sophie Knight Sophie Knight
  • Job Title: Contributing writer

Sophie is a journalist and mum of one, and previously worked for Mother&Baby for two years before moving on to write about family cars and consumer advice for Parkers.co.uk

She is passionate about Post-Natal Depression, and is a Mental Health First Aider for Bauer Media. She is also a Reiki practitioner, patchwork quilter, and avid biscuit eater.

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