What Your Weird Food Cravings Mean About Health


Care for some pickles with that ice cream? Food cravings during pregnancy have become the stuff of legend. But while it’s fine to give in to most cravings (and laugh about them later), some cravings can be downright weird and may point to a health concern.

More than just food cravings

  • Sometimes a craving for a particular food might be because of a nutritional deficiency or another health concern. For example, if you’re craving:

  • Chocolate: You might need more magnesium and/or calcium.

  • Sweets in general: You might need to eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep your blood sugar steady.

  • Spicy food: Spicy foods makes you sweat, which cools your body down.

  • Rare meat: You may be low in iron or you might need to ramp up the protein (but remember that rare meat isn’t recommended during pregnancy).

  • Ice: This can be another sign of an iron deficiency.

Non-food cravings

Some women will crave non-food items while pregnant, such as:

  • Chalk

  • Dirt

  • Charcoal

  • Burnt matches

  • Soap

  • Rocks

  • Coffee grounds

  • Ashes
  • Mothballs

  • Toothpaste

In some cases, these types of cravings could point to some kind of nutritional deficiency, such as iron, zinc or potassium. But, cravings for non-food items could also indicate a mental disorder called pica, which can become more pronounced during pregnancy.

It’s never okay to eat non-food items, especially during pregnancy. At the very least, they’ll fill you up so that you eat less nutritious food; at worst, you could ingest something toxic that could harm both you and your child. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about strange cravings—we promise, they’ve heard it many times before, and they can help you manage unsafe cravings until they pass.

Learn more about Pregnancy Nutrition on the BayCare HealthChat podcast.