A Survival Guide to Pregnancy Cravings

Mar 28, 2023 | Nutrition, Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of many changes, both physically and emotionally. One of the most common changes that pregnant women experience is food cravings.

While some cravings are for healthy foods, others can be for more unusual or unhealthy options. If you’ve noticed a change in your cravings, know you’re not alone.

What causes pregnancy cravings?

The exact cause of them is unknown, but they are thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes [1] and nutritional deficiencies.

Some of the hormones that are thought to play a role include:

  • Oestrogen: Oestrogen levels increase significantly during pregnancy, and this may lead to cravings for sweet and fatty foods.
  • Progesterone: Progesterone levels also increase during pregnancy, and this may lead to cravings for salty foods.
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): hCG is a hormone that is produced by the placenta, and it may also contribute to cravings [2].

Nutritional deficiencies may also play a role in pregnancy cravings. For example, women who are deficient in iron may crave red meat [3].

Pregnancy can be a stressful time, and it’s totally normal to feel stressed or anxious from time to time. Sometimes, these feelings can also lead to cravings for certain foods.

When do pregnancy cravings start?

It is estimated that 67% of pregnant women in the UK experience cravings[4], but their severity and frequency can vary from woman to woman. Some women may only crave certain foods on occasion, while others may have intense cravings that are difficult to resist.

So whilst it is common to have new or unusual cravings during pregnancy, not every woman will experience them.

Pregnancy cravings can start as early as the first trimester, but they are most common in the second trimester. They usually disappear by the third trimester.

How do I manage these cravings?

If you are experiencing food cravings, you may be wondering how best to manage them in a healthy way. Here are some tips we’ve put together for you to try:

  • Ice cream: Try frozen yogurt or a fruit sorbet.
  • Chocolate: Choose a dark chocolate, the healthiest option.
  • Peanut butter: Try natural peanut butter, and pair this with celery sticks, or apple slices.
  • Pizza: Try making a healthier version at home with whole-wheat crust, low-fat cheese, and consider adding your favourite veggies.
  • Salty snacks: Popcorn can be a great way to meet the demands of your salty cravings, unsalted nuts, or seeds.
  • Sweets: Raspberries, watermelon and strawberries can be a great way to satiate your cravings for sweet foods. Oranges and pink grapefruit can also be a healthier alternative to sweets or chocolate. Some fruits can have high sugar contents so be sure to record your portions to monitor your sugar levels.

Managing pregnancy food cravings can be challenging, but it is important to remember that they are normal.

By following these tips, you can help to manage your cravings and eat a healthy diet during pregnancy.

Here are some additional tips for managing pregnancy food cravings:

  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. This way, if you do get a craving, you’ll have something healthy to reach for.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. If you really want something, go ahead and have it. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Cook at home more often. This way, you can control the ingredients in your food and make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
  • Join Our Community. This can be a great way to connect with other pregnant women and share tips for managing cravings.

Pregnancy cravings are just that – a temporary phase. After your little one is born, your hormones will level out and the cravings will likely subside[5].

For more tips and advice on pregnancy related content register with The Parents Class Community, and join like-minded expectant parents across the UK.


[1] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01076/full?s2=P1847994869_1683504008387646700
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5666719/
[3] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/156482659801900104
[4] https://www.vitabiotics.com/blogs/talkmum/the-nations-weirdest-pregnancy-cravings-revealed
[5] https://www.uhcw.nhs.uk/download/clientfiles/files/Patient%20Information%20Leaflets/Clinical%20Support%20Services/Dietetics/117139_Eat_well_in_pregnancy.pdf

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