5 FAQs About Pregnancy Food Cravings

Ever craved the combo pickles and ice cream? Well, if you’ve never been pregnant, you probably haven’t. But surprisingly enough, many women experience the sensation of wanting odd combinations of food throughout their pregnancy. Although there is not one specific time food cravings begin or subside throughout pregnancy, women usually start to have cravings by the end of the first trimester and normally decline as the third trimester ends.

Pregnancy Food Cravings

Although cravings are thought to be caused by changing hormone levels and nutritional deficiencies, there is no one reason pregnancy causes food cravings. Women may even experience complete aversion to foods they once loved! Here at Kernodle OB/GYN, we understand there are a significant number of unknowns surrounding pregnancy, and we want to ensure your questions are being answered. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about pregnancy food cravings, what they are, and how to manage them.

FAQ #1: What Causes Pregnancy Cravings?

There is no one specific reason why women experience food cravings during pregnancy. However, several theories come back to the cravings being hormone-based, which is probable due to the influx and shift of hormones throughout a woman’s pregnancy. Verywellfamily.com outlines a few theories surrounding palate changes, food cravings, and food aversions:


  • Hormonal changes: During pregnancy, women experience increases in estrogen and progesterone. In fact, a woman will produce more estrogen during one pregnancy than she would her entire life not being pregnant. These hormonal changes are essential in helping the fetus develop, but also may cause food cravings. 
  • Sensory changes: Sense of taste and smell have been noted to change in many pregnant women. This is also referred to as dysgeusia and generally begins during the first trimester of pregnancy. Because of this shift in senses, women may experience cravings for foods they didn’t like or aversion to foods they did like pre-pregnancy.
  • Nutritional needs: As your body prepares to host a baby for nine months, there becomes an increased need for specific nutrients such as calcium and iron. As your body experiences these changes in nutritional needs, you may begin to crave foods rich in these ingredients.

FAQ #2: What Do I Do About My Unhealthy Cravings?

Depending on the craving, sometimes it’s ok to give in! However, it is important to be mindful that high-calorie foods can lead to weight gain, increasing the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure levels. Make sure to balance your unhealthy food cravings with foods that offer essential vitamins and nutrients. If you are having trouble managing your food cravings, talking with your doctor to devise a plan can be beneficial.

FAQ #3 Can I Prevent Food Cravings?

With an influx of hormones during pregnancy, you may feel like you can’t escape food cravings. However, you can beat pregnancy cravings by eating regular meals, preparing healthy snacks in advance, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and opting for foods with high nutrient levels. And remember, depriving yourself will only make your cravings more intense. It’s ok to give in to the occasional temptation as long as the craving poses no harm.

FAQ #4: What Foods Should I Avoid?

While pregnant, some foods should be avoided altogether. WebMD suggests no matter how strong the craving, foods that may pose health risks for you and your baby include:


  • Undercooked and raw seafood
  • Undercooked and raw red meat, poultry, and eggs
  • Unpasteurized milk and any foods made from milk
  • Raw vegetable sprouts and unwashed produce
  • Alcohol


Although these foods can be a part of a healthy diet for a non-pregnant person, some of the ingredients listed above can harm your baby’s development and may lead to foodborne illness. 

FAQ #5 What Are The Most Common Pregnancy Cravings?

Due to each woman’s pregnancy journey being specific and unique, food cravings range from sweet to salty or plain to savory. Some of the most common pregnancy food cravings include:


  • Sweets such as chocolate, candy, or ice cream
  • High-calorie foods such as pizza or fried foods
  • Animal proteins 
  • Spicy foods


Some women may develop cravings to eat things that are not food throughout their pregnancy. This condition is called pica and may cause cravings for substances such as chalk, dirt, ice, toothpaste, sand, coffee grounds, or soap. Pica may indicate different nutritional deficiencies, such as iron deficiency. If pregnant and experiencing cravings for non-food items, setting up an appointment with your doctor or OB/GYN is essential.

Food cravings affect many women during pregnancy. Some women even experience food aversions and changes to their taste and smell. With a wide range of potential needs and questions, we are here to help you every step of the way. Looking to bring Kernodle OB/GYN into your pregnancy journey? Call our office today at (336) 538-1234 or visit our website to book an appointment.

Help us serve you better and tell us how we're doing.