The Blog

Pregnancy & Food: The Mystery of Hunger & Food Cravings

Lately I have been watching old episodes of Man Vs Food on the Good Food Channel hosted by the legendary Adam Richman. I have watched Adam tackle giant portions of steak, stacked sandwiches filled with half a deli's worth of meat, and shakes the size of a toddler, as well as some other more scary challenges like chicken wings more fiery than the pits of Hades (his chilli red cheeks, swollen lips and sweat drenched body is testament to that). Until recently, I could not understand how one person could consume such a huge amount of food. That was until about two weeks ago when the hunger kicked in...

Never before in my life have I felt this hungry, not even after partying for 3 days straight in Barcelona surviving on a diet of cubes of cheese and a lot of peach vodka (but that is another story entirely!). This hunger radiates from the centre of my belly and reaches into every limb, spreading a burning sensation that cannot be satiated until I have eaten and then, before I know it, the hunger returns. I did not feel like this earlier on in my pregnancy thank goodness, otherwise I am not so sure my bump would be looking as neat as it currently does.

Throughout my pregnancy one thing I have found to be a popular topic is food cravings. I get asked a lot by friends, people on forums and readers of my blog. Have I had any? Am I eating pickles by the truck load or thinking of camping out next to a chocolate factory? And the answer is 'no to the pickles', though I probably wouldn't pass one up if someone offered me a pickle topped burger. 'No to the chocolate factory', though cravings aside setting up home in Wonka land would be pretty sweet and finally, 'yes to the cravings'. My main craving has been ice. I get through 2 sometimes 3 trays of it in a day. There is nothing (at the moment) more satisfying then crunching through a ton of ice cubes. A few people who I have told this to thought it was a bit weird so I decided to ask some fellow pregnant ladies what their cravings were, if indeed they had any.

A few of the women I have spoken to said they were craving things like fruit, carbonated drinks, steak, yogurt, cheese, cereal, and, like me, ice. My midwife told me that some of the women that she has looked after over the years had even weirder cravings like coal, cigarette butts and bars of soap!

There seems to be some conflict of belief over the cause of pregnancy food cravings. Some people believe that we crave foods that we need to balance out nutritional deficiencies whilst some believe that is purely down to the extreme hormones that course through your body during pregnancy. Others believe that it is just your body's way of making up the additional calories that are needed. There is no definitive proof that any of these theories are true so in my opinion I don't think there is too much harm in giving in on occasion, in moderation, to what your body is craving as long as it is not a dangerous substance (tell that to the tub of Ben & Jerry's I intend to make my way through this weekend). Though of course being pregnant and chock full of hormones myself, I may not be the best person to advise.

In the spirit of 'your cravings are what your body is nutritionally lacking', here are some fun facts of what some of your cravings could be linked to:

  • Ice, soap, cigarette butts: Iron
  • Steak or red meat: Protein
  • Chocolate: B vitamins
  • Dairy: Calcium

I wonder what cravings you're having and what they might mean?