Food Cravings and Aversions

You’re pregnant and—suddenly—some foods you used to love now turn your stomach, while the occasional super-weird food combination is all you want to eat for a week! What causes cravings and aversions during pregnancy, and how can you make sure you still eat a balanced diet? 

Why are my food choices so wacky? 

There are a few reasons why may you have unusual cravings and aversions: 

  • The flood of pregnancy hormones can trigger nausea and vomiting, which may be behind many aversions. 
  • Your senses are out of whack (your sense of smell or taste may be super-sensitive, or duller than normal). 
  • You might feel a need for certain foods that bring back comforting memories, like something you loved as a child. 
  • People’s bodies tend to crave foods that have nutrients that the body needs, and be repulsed by dangerous or unhealthy choices. But, during pregnancy, you might find that your body’s craving for sodium and vitamin D translates to a ferocious need to eat pickles and ice cream. 

What should I do about cravings and aversions? 

If you crave foods that aren’t ridiculously unhealthy, then it’s fine to give in once in a while. (But, if it’s nonfood items you crave, like chalk or dirt, be sure and talk to your doctor.) With aversions, it’s best to just avoid whatever food or smell that bothers you. 

To help curb unhealthy cravings, try these tips: 

  • Eat a healthy breakfast to help cut down on starvation-triggered food cravings later in the day. 
  • Get regular exercise to distract you from cravings. 
  • Have healthy snack options on hand that satisfy cravings like salty, crunchy, sweet and—the most important food group—chocolate. 
  • Try to satisfy cravings with small portions (think a snack-size bag of chips, rather than a family-size bag).