Account & More
profile picture of Paula Kashtan
Paula Kashtan

Cravings During Pregnancy

What's up with those urges to eat certain foods during pregnancy? Check out what's probably causing them here.

What are cravings during pregnancy?

That urge that you want some specific food — stat!

What could be causing my cravings during pregnancy?

Studies show that about 90 percent of expecting women have cravings, particularly in the first trimester. Experts aren’t sure why, but one theory is that your body is simply asking for what it needs. The boost in blood volume increases your need for sodium — hence, you crave pickles. Why the sudden change in food preferences? Blame it on raging hormones, which are messing with your senses of taste and smell. Hunger, restlessness and difficult emotions can intensify cravings, so make sure to eat breakfast, exercise regularly and ask for support when you need it.

When should I go to the doctor with my cravings during pregnancy?

If you’re craving stuff that’s not food, like dirt, charcoal or laundry starch, you might have a condition called pica. It’s important to seek medical attention for pica cravings because they could mean you’re deficient in certain nutrients, and because they can be hard to resist — and actually eating some nonfood stuff could be dangerous.

What should I do to treat my cravings during pregnancy?

Moderate indulgence is fine (and totally inevitable), but watch your intake of empty calories — especially if they start to replace important nutrients. Here are some healthy alternatives to common junk-food cravings.

Instead of ice cream
Try sorbet, popsicles, low-fat fro-yo

Instead of doughnuts, pastries
Try whole-grain toast with jam

Instead of cookies, cake, pie
Try angel food cake; graham crackers and peanut butter; low-fat banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread; oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon; low-fat pudding

Instead of candy
Try trail mix

Instead of chocolate
Try low-fat chocolate milk, low-sugar hot cocoa

Instead of chips
Try popcorn (air-popped or light microwave), pretzels, whole-grain cereal

Plus, more from The Bump:

Pica During Pregnancy

Healthy Foods for Busy Moms-to-Be

Weird Pregnancy Cravings