If you’ve never been pregnant, the thought of weird food cravings may seem foreign to you. While most of us might crave a cheeseburger after midnight, some pregnant women are drooling at the thought of a cheeseburger with a side of sardines and peanut butter (no, seriously).
It may seem odd, but there’s a reason why pregnant women seem to crave things outside of their regular palete. According to Dr. Omar Manejwala on Psychology Today, pregnancy cravings can depend on a range of factors, including culture and the sorts of food that are readily available regionally – in a study of 200 pregnant Tanzanian women, the most common cravings were meat and mangoes. On the other hand, a study of pregnant American women found that the most common cravings were for dairy and sweet foods like chocolate and fruit.
He also explained that an increase of the substance Neuropeptide Y (NPY) (an appetite stimulant) during pregnancy kick starts the cravings.
There is also a change in bitter sensitivity, meaning abnormal smell and taste perception changes. This could explain would some pregnant women crave salty foods (think anchovies).
There’s also a practice known as pica, which basically refers to cravings that serve no added nutritional value. While this usually refers to foods like ice cream and pickles, it can also explain why some pregnant women find themselves craving inedible things like dirt. If you find you are craving anything inedible, contact your doctor.
We’ve asked our Wedded Wonderland audience what they craved the most – and what turned them off during their pregnancy.
(Note: Some of these were strictly cravings and not actually eaten).
The smell of sweat and red meat
Rice bubbles in pickle juice
Cucumber and cherry tomatoes
Guyanese Chinese food
Oregano on everything
Lentils with french toast, topped with maple syrup and avocado
Turkey subs and chilli
Plain gravy (like soup)
Sour lollies dipped in lemon juice
Salt and vinegar chips mixed with vanilla ice cream
Toasted sandwich with only pickled onions inside
Smoked oyster in a can
Hot chips mixed with spaghetti bolognese
Cover image by Jennifer Candelier