After experiencing nausea and morning sickness during the first trimester, it may feel like a blessing (and a curse) to want to eat all the things again during your second trimester. Pregnancy and cravings always seem to go hand in hand. While some women may crave the saltiness and greasiness of french fries, others may crave the sweetness of ice cream. And, of course, there are the women who fall into the spicy jalapeño and salsa category. After finishing a jar of pickled jalapeños, you may be asking yourself, “What does it mean if I crave spicy food while pregnant?”
According to a survey conducted on Baby Center, almost 40 percent of moms craved sweet foods, 33 percent craved salty foods, 10 percent craved sour foods, and 17 percent craved spicy foods. So what causes cravings during pregnancy, and why do certain women crave certain tastes and not others?
There are many theories as to why women have such strong cravings when they are pregnant. Some experts say hormones are the culprit, since hormones tend to increase your sense of smell during pregnancy. The more delicious things you smell, the more your brain will tell your stomach you’re hungry and that you have to have it now.
Alternatively, licensed acupuncturist Kristen N. Burris, L.Ac., tells Romper in an email that your heightened taste and smell “has the benefit of protecting the pregnant woman and her growing child against harmful chemicals, poisons, and particular foods.”
Additionally, the stronger your sense of smell, the stronger your sense of taste — or your gag reflex. If you smell something stinky when you’re pregnant, it’s intensified, and it could create a food aversion. Foods with strong smells may cause nausea in early pregnancy, and unfortunately, can even last long after the baby is born. Kind of like how you can’t even stand the smell, much less the taste of Jägermeister without wanting to throw up, thanks to that horrible night your freshman year of college. Or is that just me?
Baby Center noted food cravings can be an indicator of something lacking in your diet. For example, if you’re craving a lot of meat, your diet may be lacking in protein, and you can either just eat some meat, or you can eat beans, fortified cereals, or tofu. If you’re short on magnesium, that could be why you’re craving sweets and chocolate. If you want a healthier alternative to chocolate, try eating some whole grains or seeds to satiate that craving.
Burris warns, however, if you’re craving ice, clay, or dirt, you might have Pica, which means you have an iron deficiency and need to seek help from your acupuncturist, midwife, or OB-GYN. “This further proves the theory that pregnant women intuitively know what their bodies and babies need, because once supplemented with proper nutrition and iron supplements, most women can curb or ignore their cravings for these unusual non-food items,” she says.