Ice Cream, Pickles, and Other Pregnancy Preferences

By
Haley Thomas
/
Women's Health
/
March 31, 2016

76% of pregnant women experience abnormal smells or tastes during pregnancy. These changes, which typically occur early in the first trimester, usually result in more aversions than cravings. Pregnancy aversions are no joke - many women report extreme changes in taste:“I used to love Oceanspray Cran-Apple juice. After I got pregnant I couldn’t even choke it down - it tasted like pure alcohol to me. I still can’t drink it 15 years later.”We surveyed nearly 800 women about the foods they loved and hated while pregnant. Check out the word webs to learn what foods women love or hate during pregnancy:

While many women had some really obscure food preferences, a few patterns emerged. One trend was the disdain of strong smells. As one Kindara community member described it, "Anything cooked or strong smelling was off the menu. Fried onions were the worst!"

Why does this phenomenon occur?

One of the most common explanations is that cravings exist to alert pregnant women when they need specific nutrients. For example, one may crave ice cream because they needs calcium. Evidence to support this idea is sparse, except in cases where there is a serious diet deficiency (see: Pica). The most likely theory is that hormonal changes during pregnancy change taste and smell, resulting in strong dietary preferences. 

A few food groups are more polarizing than others - namely, chocolate, dairy, eggs, cheese, and seafood. Women reported loving or hating these foods. 

Have strong cravings or aversions? If you're craving unhealthy salty or sweet food, find a similar healthy alternative. For example, if you're frequently craving strawberry ice cream, opt for fresh strawberries now and again. If you find yourself avoiding meat, try to find foods that provide protein, like beans. Learn to work with your new, mysterious preferences to maintain a balanced diet for you and your little one.

Sources:

Kindara Survey, November 2015.

Nordin, S., Broman, D. A., Olofsson, J. K., & Wulff, M. (2004). A longitudinal descriptive study of self-reported abnormal smell and taste perception in pregnant women. Chemical Senses, 29(5), 391-402. 

Forrest D. Tierson, Carolyn L. Olsen, Ernest B. Hook (1985). Influence of cravings and aversions on diet in pregnancy. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 17(2).

Lopez, L. B., Langini, S. H., & Pita de Portela, M. L. (2007). Maternal iron status and neonatal outcomes in women with pica during pregnancy. International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics: The Official Organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 98(2), 151-152. 

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