Pregnancy Cravings: What Do They Really Mean?

pregnancy cravings what do they mean
Images via Flickr/adapted by Amanda Austin

Forget pickles and ice cream – pregnancy cravings run the gamut of food choices! Would you believe I don’t even like pickles? I dislike them when I'm not pregnant and I don’t like them while I'm pregnant either. Go figure.

(Spoiler alert: chocolate and potato chips aren't “needs.”)

It's amazing how each pregnancy has different symptoms, different feelings, and different cravings. During my first pregnancy, I loved sweets. But with this little girl, I'm into all things spicy, as well as meats and cheese and salty stuff galore. I'm sure you've heard the old wives' tales about pregnancy cravings and the gender of your child (for the record, the cravings were reversed in my case).

But what if your pregnancy cravings meant your body was actually urging you to provide something you and your baby truly needed? (Spoiler alert: chocolate and potato chips aren't “needs.”) Nutrition experts believe that cravings for specific types of food may signify shortages of vitamins and minerals in your diet.

Check out some common pregnancy cravings and what they may really mean.

pregnancy cravings meat and cheese
Image via Flickr/Allyrose18

Meat and Cheese

This one strikes close to home (says the girl who ate a roast beef and cheese sub for lunch). Cheese cravings could mean one of two things: an essential fatty acid deficiency or a calcium deficiency. Although cheese isn't terrible on its own, especially low-fat options like string cheese or mozzarella, succumbing to your craving to eat a block of cheddar isn't in your best interest.

Try a handful of walnuts for a snack, ground flax seeds on your oatmeal, or a nice helping of hummus (which contains tahini, a food high in calcium). Cravings for red meat can signify an iron deficiency. Grab lean-cut, well done steak, but pair it with beans, cherries, or oranges to help your body absorb the iron.

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pregnancy craving chocolate
Image via Flickr/John Loo

Chocolate

With the holidays almost here, chocolate is abundant. And for pregnant women, it may be a dream come true. Who doesn't like a little chocolate now and then? However, intense chocolate cravings can mean a magnesium deficiency. It may not seem quite as appealing as chocolate, but you can combat your craving with whole grains, beans, and fresh fruit.

If you're craving sweets in general, this could mean you’re hypoglycemic. Keep lots of high-fiber foods and fruit on hand (including raisins, grapes, apples, and granola bars) in case you experience a drop in blood sugar.

pregnancy cravings bread and carbs
Image via Flickr/rprata

Bread and Carbs

Between baby #1 and baby #2, I was on a path to a low-carb lifestyle, but all bets are off now that I'm pregnant. Loaf of bread for one, please! A craving for bread or other high-carb foods (like pasta) can indicate your body's need for nitrogen. The cure? High-protein foods: think salmon, chicken, pork, and black beans. Not all together. (OK, maybe all together if you're into that kind of thing.)

pregnancy cravings popcorn
Image via Flickr/The Eggplant

Salty Foods

I haven't met a potato chip I haven't liked, except for the salt-and-vinegar variety today, which were borderline too salty for my taste. When you start craving salty foods, like potato chips or popcorn, it could mean a couple different things.

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First, general salty-food cravings could mean a chloride deficiency, which can be turned around by celery, olives, and tomatoes. A second cause is an extreme influx of stress hormones in your body. This isn't just a pregnancy thing (as PMS-ing women can attest), but pregnancy definitely exacerbates the issue.

Indulging in too much salt can raise blood pressure. So instead, fight your salty-food craving with fresh fruit juice, leafy greens, and a brisk walk around the block.

pregnancy cravings ice water
Image via Flickr/Mr. T in DC

Cool Drinks

With both babies, I couldn't stand to drink hot drinks. While an aversion to hot beverages could mean your body just doesn't want or need the extra heat, it could also mean you're lacking manganese. If you can drink cold water (or water with lemon if you're feeling zesty) do it! However, consider bulking up your manganese intake with pineapple or blueberries (these both make really tasty infused-water choices).

Did any of your pregnancy cravings make the list? Have you tried these alternatives to fight cravings?

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What do you think?

Pregnancy Cravings: What Do They Really Mean?

Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day, a blogger and freelance writer by night, and a celebrity news junkie all the time! She's also mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip (and sometimes tries to scoop her!) Amanda loves coffee, fashion, nail polish, cats, and Tim Gunn (not always in that order.) For more celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda's blog, It's Blogworthy. ... More

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6 comments

  1. corind says:

    I’ve been craving milk, egg rolls, and bananas and banana flavored things. kinda weird for me because normally I hate bananas with the intensity of 1000 suns lol

  2. Krystal says:

    I”ve been craving steak, potatoes & asparagus. Although latley it’s been pasta w/ red sauce & sausage (think it’s because it’s what we used to eaat alot of though; my husband loves pasta). At the start I was eating alot of apples, oranges, and chicken

  3. mommy nhoj says:

    I just ate and ate but got full doses of vitamin C from oranges!

  4. kimberly says:

    i found that when i crave chocolate i tried chocolate soy milk and fell in love!!! that fixes that craving

  5. Bethanie says:

    I have not had any true cravings during this pregnancy. Before I became pregnant, I did not care for milk, maybe a half to whole glass a day. During the majority of my pregnancy, I have loved drinking milk, and find myself drinking at least 2, maybe 3 classes a day. I have also found that my baby doesn’t like too much spice or tomatoes, so when we eat Italian dishes, I have to go light on the sauce or I will get sick.

  6. Cathlyn says:

    I have to laugh. I didn’t have any of these cravings with my daughter. The only cravings I had was for about 2 weeks I wanted Boston Creme donuts from Dunkin Donuts. Once I had one I didn’t want anymore for the rest of my pregnancy. Then from about 5 1/2 months until I had her I wanted pineapple juice. (No wonder the child loves pineapple juice LOL).

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