Are Food Cravings an Early Sign of Pregnancy?

woman eating a bowl of ice cream with odd toppings

In any Hollywood movie about pregnancy, the mom-to-be experiences some sort of unusual food craving. The newly pregnant character demands pickles and ice cream or can’t get enough pepperoni cupcakes. But how true-to-life is this common movie theme?

For some women, it’s fairly accurate.

According to a study quoted in Frontiers in Psychology, “an estimated 50-90% of U.S. women experience cravings for specific foods during pregnancy.” Still, while cravings can include outrageous Hollywood-style flavor combinations, they can just as easily be for common items like chocolate, peanut butter or red meat.

Food cravings can occur as early as the first week after conception, although it’s more common for them to develop a bit later in the first trimester. Cravings tend to peak in the second trimester and then decline.

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Some health experts suggest cravings are triggered by hormonal changes. Others attribute it to the body trying to address specific nutritional needs. While others believe it’s simply your mind seeking comfort from certain foods while so much is changing inside your body.

It’s equally likely for pregnant women to experience food aversions, meaning they are repulsed by foods they previously enjoyed. In some cases, these aversions can be so severe that the very thought of the particular food can result in nausea.

In general, food cravings and aversions are pretty harmless, as long as you maintain good overall nutrition. Keep in mind, you and your baby need the right mix of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals. A healthcare provider can help you outline a healthy diet, which may include prenatal vitamins.

Food cravings are just one of the early signs of pregnancy. A missed period, recurring nausea or vomiting, cramping and spotting, sore breasts and fatigue or tiredness are also common. If you experience these symptoms, especially more than one, and you have any reason to suspect you may be pregnant, it’s important to get a medical pregnancy test as soon as possible.

Sira in Gainesville offers free, confidential medical pregnancy tests for any woman, and there’s no insurance required. All you have to do is call us at 352-377-4947 or contact us online for an appointment.

In addition to pregnancy testing, we offer a variety of counseling, services and community referrals to ensure you have the information and support you need to provide your baby a loving future. Contact Sira in Gainesville today.

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