When those random pregnancy cravings hit, remember that indulging during pregnancy still means you should only enjoy your cravings in moderation. 

Woman sitting on bed holding baby bump in blue posh peanut maternity robe


When those random pregnancy cravings hit, remember that indulging during pregnancy still means you should only enjoy your cravings in moderation.

If you or your partner has experienced pregnancy cravings, you are by no means alone. Many women can attest that their pregnancy made them hungrier or caused them to be all-consumed with particular foods they may not have cared much about before. This phenomenon is a worry for some pregnant people, while others are excited to eat!

Women who may have had all the self-control before becoming pregnant may find themselves fixated on finding the next thing to have a snack. Common pregnancy cravings for potato chips and "pickles and ice cream combination" are popular cravings, or at least a common one we've all heard before. Maybe you have a craving for an odd combo like pickles and vanilla ice cream or could wolf down a sleeve of Nilla Wafers in sixty seconds. Sweet foods, salty foods, creamy, or even crunchy, when you are "eating for two" (or more if you are having multiples), your longing will not die down until you dig in. Is this a dilemma or a dream come true?

Are pregnancy cravings real, or something moms-to-be created to give themselves the go-ahead to devour a box of doughnuts? Should you give in to your desires or stick to your doctor-approved diet? Find out if this is food cravings fact or fiction.

When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?

You will probably begin having a craving in your first trimester, and it could even be as early as five weeks into pregnancy. The food cravings will increase as you move into your second trimester and usually subside in your third. Fluctuations in hormones, sense of smell, and a woman's requirement for an uptick in specific nutrients (like calcium and iron ) during pregnancy can all lead to uncontrollable cravings. Studies on common pregnancy cravings have uncovered that 50-90% of women in the U.S. get wishes during their pregnancy at some point, some more than others, some the entire time. Midnight must-haves like thick vanilla milkshakes now make sense, giving moms-to-be more bone-building calcium to support their system, but we don't hear much about them longing for a plate of the liver to get their iron levels up! Go figure.

Then there is pica - an eating disorder where a person has weird pregnancy cravings for a non-food item like chalk, sand, and paint chips, to name a few. This appetite oddity is linked to a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals, but eating these non-foods is not safe for mom or baby. Talk to your OBGYN asap if you find yourself jonesing for a snack of stones you may be suffering from pica. Thankfully, pica is not as common as conventional pregnancy food cravings, so hopefully, you won't have to worry about this curious condition.

Now, back to the need for a big bowl of mac and cheese and a generous slice of (or an entire) red velvet cake. Yum!

What are the Most Common Pregnancy Cravings?

Unsurprisingly, pregnant women want something tasty, and not necessarily nutritious. This intense craving sometimes feels like it can only be satisfied by junk food. And perhaps they have a desire for this "forbidden" food in a larger serving size than they would have sat down to a few months prior.

Just 10% of pregnant women go into a frenzy over fruits and vegetables while "with child," but a tub of whipped cream frosting? Forget about it! A whopping majority of pregnant women that have pregnancy cravings prefer their pick of unhealthful foods...for their fetus, of course. At least that's what they'll tell you. A food craving for double chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, or peanut butter far outweighs any interest in a cucumber salad. It's understandable.

Interestingly, these pregnancy cravings seem to suddenly appear, especially after the common first trimester episodes of morning sickness - bellyaches and barfing. The nightmarish food aversion is caused by nausea from morning sickness is enough to make eating anything without incident an accomplishment. So when an appetite for anything at all reemerges, pregnant women are eager to make a beeline straight for the fridge or pantry to entertain their uterus-fueled urges. Is this "belly bump" binge no biggie or a cause for concern?

A Woman Sitting and Eating with Pregnancy Cravings Moderation is the Key for Pregnant Women

It would be fabulous (albeit far-fetched) if your OBGYN wrote you a prescription for a batch of fudge brownies. But experts know that common pregnancy craving is legit, and they are realistic about them. It would be pointless to pretend these "pregnant woman munchies" can be curtailed entirely, so the middle ground of moderation is what moms-to-be are advised. Unless your doctor tells you differently, caving in to your craving (conservatively) is usually OK. Keep your portions puny and otherwise eat healthy foods.

Of course, some cravings ought to be avoided, like those for alcoholic beverages and caffeine, so moderation is not applicable in these cases. Scratch these drinks and foods off your ever-growing grocery list until you can safely consume them post-birth. Discuss with your doc to be sure what you are consuming is not dangerous for your baby or yourself. You are (hopefully) more likely to go for "comfort foods" and heavy carbs than a rum and Coke anyway.

Keeping Your Pregnancy Cravings Under Control

-Stock up on staples.

No, not the kind from the office supplies store, but the food aisle. If you make your sweets at home, you can be in control of what goes in them, so you don't go overboard. Baking homemade cookies, pastries, muffins, and other treats gives you time to let your craving simmer down before you've already busted out the box of Double Stuffed Oreos and overindulged. Making your food is healthier, but it can also be pretty enjoyable.

You can swap out vegetable oil or butter in many recipes and use unsweetened applesauce instead, cut down on the sugar quantity, and you won't get that sudden spike that could lead to you craving more food, and use almond flour in place of all-purpose flour for more flavor and nutrition. When you whip up these baked goods yourself, you will also avoid processed ingredients found in many pre-packaged groceries. Baking at home will make a difference during your pregnancy, especially if you feel like you could out-eat Cookie Monster. Share your baked-with-love goodies with others; overeating anything isn't advised.

-Don't deny. Deprivation leads to desperation.

You can have your pregnancy cravings and eat the food. The first bite of a chocolate bar tastes the best, so save the rest of it for the next round. Want some pizza? You can have a small slice and stay in shape, allowing you to freeze the leftovers for a rainy day. Choose your toppings wisely, piling on healthful grilled veggies, crushed tomatoes, and low-fat mozzarella cheese rather than going all-in for a "meat lover's" pizza.

If you rule out the food you crave during your pregnancy entirely, you are sure to think about nothing else. Listen to your body and be mindful of your meals. You do not have to eliminate everything you want, but you are best off not going to the extremes. A little goes a long way, so savor every bite and enjoy eating in general - pregnant or not. Also, deprivation can lead to a nutritional deficiency that may harm the baby's development.

Shopping Bag Spilling Out Fruit and Vegetables

-Healthier alternatives that are just as tasty.

You may be craving sweets and think that nothing could beat out a bowl of Ben & Jerry's, but with a bit of imagination, you can get on board with a healthy snack that still satisfies your sweet tooth. Unhealthy cravings usually result in overeating and weight gain.

Healthy food doesn't have to taste bad. For instance, low- or non-fat (or keto) frozen yogurt is rich and creamy, and low-sugar ice pops or frozen fruit bars will hit the spot. Sometimes enjoying a bit of dark chocolate can aid in suppressing your sweet tooth. You can easily blend up a healthy smoothie for an incredible creation, filled with fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and a touch of honey or agave syrup. If you can't resist chowing down on "Chubby Hubby," have a spoonful or two of the real thing, and your temptation will taper off. Blame it on the baby!

-Have fun with friends, responsibly.

Perhaps you want to "party" even though you're pregnant. You can still have a night out with friends without focusing on alcohol or greasy late-night snacks.

Invite the crew over for festive "mocktails" that you can concoct with your combined creativity. Alcohol-free doesn't mean no fun. For the non-pregnant guests, feel free to offer the real thing, as long as you won't be tempted to try some. Serve a platter of fresh veggies and dip, cheeses, nuts, and crackers, and fancy two-bite finger sandwiches. It's far better than hanging out at a crowded bar.

As for your daily coffee shop klatch? Enjoy a relaxing herbal tea instead of your usual caffeinated cappuccino. You will save money while watching your caffeine intake.

woman pregnant eating pickles from pregnancy cravings Tips for an Overall Healthful Eating Plan During Your Pregnancy

Your cravings are sure to come; you can't do much about it. What you can do is prepare yourself for a healthy pregnancy by:

-Following a balanced diet.

One that is full of a variety of fruits and veggies, plenty of lean protein, whole grains and legumes, and low-fat dairy, as well as lots of water throughout the day to stay healthfully hydrated.

-Eating consistently all day long.

"Grazing" throughout the day on the good stuff is better than having a couple of huge meals that could mess with your blood sugar. Mini-meals and healthy snacks will help you handle your hunger and help minimize a craving. Keep healthy snacks on hand if you're away from home, like a bag of mixed nuts and raisins in your purse or a protein bar for an on-the-go breakfast.

-Consult with a nutritionist.

An expert (especially one who specializes in pregnancy nutrition) will provide you with a wealth of helpful information you can work into your pregnancy diet that is doable for your daily routine. You can also ask your OBGYN for nutritional advice or a pregnancy eating plan to follow.

Final thoughts

Pregnancy cravings do not have to cause excessive weight gain, lead to complications with your pregnancy, or compromise your baby's health. Stay on track, indulge in craving from time to time, and know that it's all normal. Now, where are those dill pickles?

What was on your pregnancy cravings list? Any weird pregnancy cravings you want to confess? We'd love to hear what you couldn't get enough of...as strange as it may seem!

Be sure to follow Posh Peanut on Instagram and Facebook for the latest product releases, to enter giveaways and be the first to know about upcoming sales events!

Editors Note: This post was originally published 6/24/2019 and has been completely updated and revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Holly Wade
Tags: pregnancy


Bethany Rutledge said:

Great post. I feel like I ate a fair mix of veggies, lean protein, and milkshakes. :)

Sabrina Jackson said:

This is a great post. I overindulged with my first but with my second I kept it in check. Gave in to cravings because I knew the baby needed something but didn’t go crazy lol.

Amanda said:

I never ate a ton when i was pregnant, but i definitely said “yes” more. I don’t regret it.

Tricia said:

These are useful tips! I overindulged with my oldest and it was very difficult to lose the weight. With my second I was more conscious about what I was eating and didn’t gain that much.

Samantha said:

I love this! I’ve been craving sweets like a mad woman for my entire pregnancy! I give in here and there to a couple cookies or a snack cake. Moderation is so important but being naughty once in a while doesn’t hurt! :)

Mallie said:

I love this article! We shouldn’t restrict ourselves, love the alternatives provided here!

I don’t want to go overboard and give in to every craving but there are healthy alternatives.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.