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When do pregnancy cravings start?

Pregnant women often experience intense cravings, ranging from unusual combinations like pickles and ice cream to specific foods that they simply cannot resist, but when do these cravings start?

Michelle Baynham

25 May 2023
Pregnancy is a time when a woman's body goes through many changes. One of the most well-known changes associated with pregnancy is food cravings. Many women report having intense cravings for specific foods during pregnancy, but when do these cravings start?

Cravings can start at any time during pregnancy, but they are most common in the first and second trimesters (it could be as early as 5 weeks into pregnancy). During these early stages of pregnancy, many women experience nausea and vomiting, which can make it difficult to eat certain foods. However, some women find that certain foods, such as salty or sour foods, help to alleviate these symptoms.

As pregnancy progresses, cravings may become more intense and specific. Many women report having cravings for sweet foods, such as chocolate or ice cream, while others crave salty snacks like crisps or pickles. Some women also report having cravings for non-food items, such as dirt or laundry detergent, which is known as pica.
While the exact cause of pregnancy cravings is not well understood, some experts believe that they may be related to hormonal changes and fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Other factors, such as stress or emotional changes, may also play a role.

It's important to note that while pregnancy cravings are common, they should not be used as a justification to eat unhealthy foods or overeat. A healthy pregnancy diet should include a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
If you experience strong cravings during pregnancy, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can help to ensure that your cravings are not a sign of a nutritional deficiency or other underlying health condition.

In addition, some cravings may be a sign of a food aversion or intolerance. For example, if you crave dairy products, this may be a sign that you are not getting enough calcium in your diet. However, if you experience nausea or other symptoms after consuming dairy products, this may be a sign of lactose intolerance.

Some key foods to include in a pregnancy diet are fruits and vegetables, which provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, offer complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. Lean proteins like poultry, fish, and legumes supply important amino acids.

As part of the Mother Fit 40 Week Pregnancy Programme, you can enjoy our weekly meal plan which ensures optimal nutrition by providing essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for healthy foetal growth and development.