Your Weird Pregnancy Cravings, Explained

pica-in-pregnancy

J. Lo wanted salsa, M&M’s, and orange soda. Victoria Beckham needed smoked salmon. And Britney Spears? Well, she just wanted dirt.

From watermelon and hot Cheetos to popcorn dipped in chocolate pudding, pregnancy can bring on some weird cravings. With my first, it was Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits.

I asked moms on Facebook about their strangest pregnancy cravings–here’s just a few.

Olives. I hated them before I was pregnant but ate jars of them when pregnant. And to this day I’m still obsessed. Also instant mashed potatoes. I didn’t want the nice fancy homemade ones. I wanted the salty, processed high school cafeteria style ones. Michelle

This one is weird for everyone I tell. My craving was banana with barbecue sauce. Clair

Let me just say I don’t really like Taco Bell, but when I was pregnant, I craved those loco tacos…the ones with the Doritos flavored shell. I would go through the drive through and then just sit in the parking lot and inhale them. Arika

Funions and cheese, hot pickles and shredded mozzarella–things we couldn’t stand or thought were gross before pregnancy suddenly start to sound delicious.

“Pregnancy cravings are basically evolutionary,” says Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. “The reason for a bizarre craving for anchovies or charcoal is because there’s something deficient in a woman’s system that she needs.”

pregnancy-cravings

A craving for liver with rice and gravy might mean that mom needs iron. That Chunky Monkey ice cream at 3am may signal a need for calcium–or, that you just want ice cream. After all, you’re eating for two.

“I think pregnancy may well be a situation where our culture acknowledges a woman’s right to indulge herself,” Julia Horne, who studies pregnancy cravings at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Bump.com. “Our culture sort of gives you permission. Women give themselves permission.”

So, those powdered donuts, honeybuns and cheese, and eggnog shakes are okay–unless you have gestational diabetes, which usually occurs between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. As your baby grows, hormones from the placenta can block insulin and increase your blood sugar. Being overweight, older than 35, or having a family history of diabetes can put you at risk for developing gestational diabetes (I was diabetic with each of my pregnancies).

Your cravings for pickled jalapenos or shots of wheatgrass are actually pretty normal, but if you’re craving paint, dirt, clay, cornstarch, cigarette ashes, baking soda, chalk, laundry powder, or charcoal, you may have pica.

Watermelon & hot Cheetos, popcorn in chocolate pudding. #Pregnancy brings on some weird… Click To Tweet

When you get cravings for things that aren’t normally edible, it’s time to contact your doctor. “Pica is the scientific term for the craving and subsequent consumption of nonfood items,” says Sera Young, author of Craving Earth. While research hasn’t pinpointed a cause, pica may be linked to a combination of biochemical, psychological, and cultural factors or mineral deficiencies. “I craved bath sponges,” one mom told the UK’s Mirror. “I would have a bath once or twice a day just to smell and chew on the sponges. I got through four to five new sponges a week.”

Eating non-food items can lead to serious health problems for you and your baby. One UK mom ate cement. “I used to eat loads – I even broke a tooth! My husband had to patch the walls back up as I ground most of it away.” If you’re craving the grittiness of dirt, baking soda, or other common household items, try polenta, nuts, or cornbread–and call your doctor.

Have you had any weird pregnancy cravings?

Tiffani
Find me here

Tiffani

Tiffani is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, co-creator of The Mommy Conference, and co-founder of the digital collective Sisterhued. Her writing and parenting tips have been seen on The Washington Post, Mommy Noire, Yahoo Parenting, and Fit Pregnancy.
Tiffani
Find me here

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