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When do Pregnancy Cravings Start and What do They Mean?

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

You’re in the early stages of your pregnancy, and you’ve suddenly desired chocolate and hot chips. Safe to say, the pregnancy craving has started to kick in.

Well, you’re not alone! They’re a real phenomenon, estimated to occur in about 60% of pregnant women. Food cravings are an urge to eat a particular food. When do pregnancy cravings start? Well... They can occur at any time during pregnancy but are most common in the early weeks.

Most common pregnancy cravings

Common pregnancy cravings include ice cream, chocolate and other sweet foods, fish, milk and fruit. Sometimes you are urged to eat unusual food combinations or a type of food you normally don’t like.

Why do we get pregnancy cravings?

Research into food pregnancy cravings and the types of food women crave has produced varied findings. One theory is that cravings are a sign from your body that you may need more of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, cravings for chips may mean you need more sodium. Another theory links them to the hormonal changes going on in your body.

How to deal with pregnancy cravings?

Generally, cravings are nothing to worry about. It is okay to give in to the occasional food craving as long as you are maintaining a nutritious diet most days so that you and your baby get the nutrients you need.

Healthier options

If you are craving a lot of unhealthy foods, such as sweets or chocolate, try not to over-indulge. Too much sugar can cause excessive weight gain and dental problems. The following tips can help:

  • Choose healthy foods that keep you full for longer. Examples include: oats, wholegrain bread, baked beans, vegetables and fruit

  • Eat regular, healthy meals to help prevent sudden feelings of hunger

  • Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks to eat between meals

  • Keep hydrated and drink regularly throughout the day

  • Try making some healthier food swaps. Examples include ice cream to frozen yoghurt

  • Don’t do the grocery shopping when you’re hungry

  • Get plenty of sleep. Research has shown that people who are sleep deprived tend to crave junk food more often than healthy foods.

Unusual pregnancy cravings

In some instances, pregnant women can develop a craving to eat substances that are not food, such as chalk, clay, laundry starch or soap. Again, it’s not clear why this happens, but it may be a sign of a more serious nutritional deficiency and is worth seeking further advice from your doctor.

In summary, while it’s important to listen to your body and indulge in the occasional craving, remember a healthy pregnancy, supported through good nutrition and lifestyle choices, helps both mum and baby thrive and gives your little one’s future health a great head start.

This article was written by Parents You've Got This Dietitian Expert Shae Rickards from Bellamy's Organic. Shae presents at our Ready to Conceive, Pregnancy, Starting Solids and Infant Sleep and Toddler Masterclasses.

Mother to be experiencing pregnancy cravings


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