You’ve definitely had a craving for yummy food before, but pregnancy cravings are next level. It feels like a fierce, overwhelming, insatiable urge to eat something. And if you don’t get hold of that specific thing like right now, well, all bets are off.
Pregnancy cravings are strange, all-consuming food urges. It’s a bit like having a middle school crush, except the object of your affection is Double Stuf Oreos topped with Cheez Whizz, and you don’t know why. You’re just doodling “I Heart Cheezy Oreos” and you can’t focus until you get what you want.
And, for the most part, it’s perfectly safe to indulge in your weird food crush. So, go crazy! But if you’re here, you’re probably wondering, when do pregnancy cravings start? Why do they happen? What can you do about them? Don’t worry, we’ve got the answers.
When do cravings start during pregnancy?
Can you have pregnancy food cravings at 2 weeks? 3 weeks? 8 weeks?
Yep, yep, and yep. Early pregnancy cravings aren’t unusual, and sometimes that inexplicable urge for a pickle sundae can be your first inkling that there’s a bun in your oven.
What causes cravings during pregnancy?
No-one knows for certain why cravings happen during pregnancy, but there are a couple of theories:
- Your hormones are out of whack: During the early stages of pregnancy, your body is flooded with a bunch of different hormones. This hormonal imbalance can cause your senses to go a bit haywire, heightening both taste and smell.
- You crave what your body needs: Another popular theory is the idea that your body is signaling that it’s lacking in something important; a particular vitamin or nutrient. However, these signals can often be easily misinterpreted. If you need more calcium, for example, you might end up raiding the fridge for some of Ben & Jerry’s finest instead of drinking a glass of milk (much healthier, if a little boring).
Note: If you experience an intense craving for a non-food item, such as chalk, clay, dirt, or paint chips, this could be a symptom of a condition called “pica.” With these sorts of urges, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing an iron deficiency, something you should discuss with your pediatrician ASAP.
Common pregnancy cravings
Most pregnancy cravings are completely harmless and run the gamut from sweet and sour to salty and spicy. Common cravings include:
- Ice Cream
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Chilli Peppers
- Fast Food
Some food urges, however, are altogether more bizarre. This article in Cosmopolitan outlines some quirky combos, like Hot Cheetos dipped in yogurt, sauerkraut on pizza, and hot sauce on peanut butter. Yum?
What about food aversion?
Just as you might experience cravings for super strange foods, you may also find that certain foods turn your stomach during your pregnancy — including some of your favorites. Sorry, mama!
What can you do about cravings and aversions?
It’s not always easy to deal with cravings and aversions rationally. After all, this is a confusing, emotionally-charged time full of hormones and heartburn. But it’s worth bearing in mind that by the time you enter the third trimester, they should be more or less out of your system.
Until then, here are a few things you can do to keep your cravings and aversions in check:
- Find a distraction: If you can’t shake that food urge (or the thought of something makes you want to barf), do something to take your mind off it. Go for a walk, video chat with your bestie, open a book or watch some TV until it passes.
- Choose healthy alternatives: Do your best to be present when faced with cravings. Nutrition is still important, so steer clear of the bad choices if you can. Stock up on healthy alternatives to your fave cravings and see if they scratch that itch.
- Treat yo’self (occasionally): Of course, where’s the fun in being pregnant if you can’t give in to your food cravings now and again? Just make sure you’re bringing a bit of balance to the party. Cheezy Oreos for breakfast? How about a nice salad for lunch?