I’ve never been a picky eater — I love all types of food and can count on one hand the things I don’t like (who the hell likes lima beans anyway?). Give me the spicy, the sweet, the salty, the sour, and if you aren’t going to eat your pizza crusts, I’ll dip them in ranch and eat them myself, thank you very much.
When I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I wasn’t surprised to see my appetite expand, but what took me by surprise was the types of foods I wanted to stuff in my pie hole. My then-husband and I would go out almost every night for ice cream during my pregnancy, which seems pretty typical. But was it normal I was daydreaming about adding melted mozzarella to my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard?
I couldn’t stop fantasizing about the salty cheese being spread across my fave cup of soft serve. It was sightly disturbing to me, to say the least, but one night I tried it thinking I’d be able to get rid of this fascination with melted cheese on my ice cream. Surely, I’d gag and that would be the end of my double-dairy fantasy.
It was so damn good. I loved the way the cheese melted, then hardened over the ice cream. It was smooth and just salty enough. I was hooked and started doing this nightly ritual behind closed doors because I knew it wasn’t appetizing to anyone but me. Also, I was tired of explaining my food choices and wanted to eat in peace.
Then, there was the afternoon I made mini sandwiches out of Doritos and peanut butter and I felt the shame around my new eating habits rise to my cheeks.
Should I call a doctor? Was I missing some important vitamins and nutrients, and a confused palate was the result? And was it just me or did the pink Johnson and Johnson baby lotion smell like it was lick-able?
We’ve all heard of pregnancy cravings, of course. Mostly there’s talk about cracking open a jar of pickles and eating mass quantities of ice cream, but sometimes the cravings can get downright…strange. One woman told us she craved ice cubes and the smell of her car air conditioner. Huh?
One mom craved Yorkshire pudding with egg mayonnaise the first time around, and cherry tomatoes with her second, while another told us she was bonkers about peanut butter and whipped cream cheese sandwiches while she was expecting. And a mom who’s currently pregnant said she said can’t get enough corned beef.
Cravings change from pregnancy to pregnancy too. One mom said she’d indulge in Pop Tarts topped with syrup and root beer with her first pregnancy, and with her second, she was all about Diet Coke and fries first thing in the morning. (I mean, aren’t we all on some level?)
It turns out there’s a reason why we suddenly want to eat things we’ve never liked before, or experiment with certain combinations that would otherwise leave us dry-heaving.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, that reason is biology. Specifically, Dr. Jolene Brighten, author of Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth, tells the Huffington Post our adventurous taste buds while we are pregnant are the result of changing hormones. Lower dopamine levels “will cause you to crave everything,” she says.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard a better explanation for wanting to eat Doritos with peanut butter or dip my popcorn into a glass of lemonade, have you?
Pregnant people want comfort foods that are loaded with calories and fat, so get your chopped salad out of their face, and pass them the pork chops and mashed potatoes with a side of frosting if that’s what they ask for. No comments from those who aren’t carrying a child allowed.
These craving shouldn’t be ignored, either. If you are craving something while growing a baby, there could very well be a reason for that. Jane Pope, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, tells Parents Magazine, a craving for dairy could mean you need more calcium, just as “a craving for fruit might signal a need for Vitamin C.”
The article goes on to say scientists suggest we crave high calorie foods during pregnancy because we need them. So, while we might want to be healthy and do what’s best for our unborn babe, this is no time to deny yourself a bacon cheeseburger if that’s what you truly want.
Something else that might catch you off guard is falling in love with a food you were never able to tolerate before. I was at a baby shower in my 7th month of pregnancy and wanted to eat the entire plate of crustless olive and cream cheese sandwiches — and I almost devoured them all. The funny thing was, my entire life I’d hated olives, but on that day I couldn’t get them in my body fast enough.
It is important to pay attention to any non-food cravings too, because they do exist. One woman even told us she craved “vacuum cleaner dirt” while pregnant. Wanting to eat things such a dirt or paper is a condition know as Pica and could mean you have an iron, or zinc deficiency and it’s best to contact your health care professional if you suddenly find yourself wanting to eat chalk or eat a spoonful of your kids’ sandbox.
However, if you are pregnant and have found your cravings to be a bit off the wall and you spend a lot more time than you used to thinking about your next meal, that seems to be the norm for a lot of us.
Go ahead, let loose and enjoy.