Pickles are undeniably one of the most common foods cravings during pregnancy. A few obvious reasons are that pickles are a great source of sodium, electrolytes, water, vitamins & minerals, highly acidic, and have a unique flavor. In addition, the crunch, acidity, and brininess tastes are satisfying when considering a pregnant woman’s sensitive sensory perception.
Back in my 1st trimester, I loved to drink fresh young coconut juice and eat cucumber dipped in vinegar with salt and sugar. Pickles may not be common in my location, but I somehow belong to those moms who once craved pickles. Why pickles?
This phenomenon will signal your brain to crave certain foods to remedy such loss – hence you wanting to eat pickles or anything similar.
Simply, pregnant women craving pickles is like non-pregnant women wanting to eat their lunch at noon due to intense hunger.
The science of pregnancy cravings
Although the precise causes of your weird pregnancy cravings are still unclear, studies suggest conflicting ideas; it’s very real and mostly cultural or psychological.
Pregnancy cravings can be caused by many things, including hormonal changes – the main culprit of your morning sickness, a heightened sense of smell and taste, and nutritional deficiencies.
Hormonal imbalance – changes
A lower dopamine level during pregnancy is 1 of the theories behind pregnancy cravings. Dopamine is a “feel good” chemical, being deprived by it – women tend to crave foods making them feel good, thus compensates the mood swings.
Changes in sensory perception as 1 of the impacts of pregnancy cravings are also considered.
A study mentioned that 26% of women reported changes in taste, and 65% found changes in smell sensitivity – this reportedly served to protect expecting mothers and their fetuses by discouraging the mother from eating or drink potentially toxic foods during pregnancy.
Cultural and psychological
Pregnancy is demanding, and all support from anyone is important. A study showed that providing the desired food cravings by the husband or significant others is a sign of commitment and reassurance of love and care.
Culture plays an important factor in the foods pregnant women crave. If you believe that pregnant women crave pickles, for example – then you are most likely to crave pickles too.
Pregnancy craving is also associated with expectant mothers’ hunger for food.
Women’s bodies need to support a tough pregnancy journey. Thus, the body’s unique way of replenishing all insufficient nutrients – telling the mother to eat and drink by craving foods.
Start and end of pregnancy cravings
In general, cravings begin by the end of 1st trimester and peak both in frequency and intensity in the 2nd trimester. However, don’t forget that cravings can differ from 1 pregnant woman to another – therefore, cravings can actually happen anytime during pregnancy.
Fortunately, the weird pregnancy cravings are said to decline in the 3rd trimester and following delivery – until you forget about it.
Common foods cravings while pregnant
Familyandconutrition posted the types of foods craved by pregnant women throughout pregnancy. If you are pregnant, check if the below are accurate.
- 1st trimester – savory food cravings (salty, spicy, appetizer like pickles)
- 2nd trimester – sweet food cravings (high-fat, high-sugar like chocolates)
- 3rd trimester – salty food cravings (high sodium like cheese and yes, it’s pickle again)
The following are listed as common pregnancy cravings identified by familyeducation.
- Chocolate – if you must, dark chocolate is a better choice than milk chocolate.
- Pickles – as mostly discussed in this article.
- Eggs – a great source of protein, make sure to properly cook eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella.
- Cheese – an excellent source of calcium.
- Bacon – also a source of protein.
- Lemons (fruits) – prevalent in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, mostly acidic.
- Ice cream – high in calcium and usually tops the cravings charts.
- Peanut Butter – craving this could be a sign of vitamin B or protein necessity.
Why crave pickles during pregnancy?
If you crave pickles, know that you are not alone. You have a heightened sense of smell and taste – pickles are one of the best foods that meet your weird senses.
Also, the increased blood volume raises a pregnant woman’s need for sodium, making these salty foods a common go-to.
So what are pickles? These crunchy, sour, salty, and yes – sometimes sweet – or simply flavored cucumbers (mostly) are full of probiotics (good bacteria), high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene, the main source of vitamin A.
Including pickles in your diet is a good idea – besides vitamins and minerals, this helps prevent unwanted gestational weight gain – thanks to its low calories content.
Pickles potential health benefits
Science supported these savory snacks’ health benefits see claims as follows.
- Excellent source of sodium, electrolytes, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, and folate thus help blood clotting, promote good bone density and strength, and boost the immune system among others.
- Antioxidant beta-carotene is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
- Reduce muscle cramps and help prevent dehydration.help digest foods properly.
- Reduce cell damage.
Pickles potential health risks
We’ve known things about having pickles, and while it’s okay to eat what you want, reports linked too high pickles intake to the following health issues.
- High risk for gastric, kidney, and liver conditions – due to high acid and sodium content.
- Gestational blood pressure concerns – due to high sodium content.
- Increase risk of osteoporosis – if you are not getting enough calcium, a high intake of sodium will lead to weaker bones.
Fighting-off pickles cravings while pregnant
You may be concerned about eating too many pickles in a day, and you want to fight off your cravings. How about reflecting on the following, then think again.
- Is eating pickles taking over your healthier meals?
- Can’t you eat other foods without pickles?
- Are you eating pickles more than you need?
If your answer is yes, it’s good to consult your dietitian and discuss your balanced diet program. If your answer is no, then respect your cravings; you’re doing just fine.
Unhealthy pregnancy cravings
Pregnancy cravings are generally normal except when you have Pica – an urge to eat non-foodstuffs like but not limited to hair, soap, dirt, and paint chips.
High alcoholic drinks consumption is also not wise to do during pregnancy. Alcohol is highly addictive, and it’s good to avoid it while pregnant altogether.
If you have such a condition, consult your physician as early as you can. You don’t want to harm your baby and yourself.
What can you eat instead of pickles?
As you know, pickles are appealing to crave because of their unique savory taste. But what can you eat if pickles are not readily available on hand?
Although not as salty as pickles, moms who craved pickles shared that you can have popcorn, Cheetos, beef jerky, and few olives or “healthy” chips – these also have high sodium and potassium content known to help alleviate cramps common during pregnancy.
In my case, I cleaned, peeled, and chopped fresh cucumbers, then dipped the cucumbers in vinegar with salt and sugar. Ah, truly satisfying – can’t let my husband eat some from it.
When are pickles bad for pregnant women?
Everything in moderation is okay but eating an uncontrolled amount of pickles that are high in sodium is a health alert. Why?
This can cause your kidneys and liver to work harder, and as a result – your kidneys and liver are not safe.
In addition, you may have a higher risk of gastric-related conditions as pickles are highly acidic.
Specifically, for pregnant women, moderating must be observed when consuming pickles. Be mindful that adding pickles as part of your daily diet is not recommended.
Overindulgence in pickles during pregnancy can lead to certain health issues like gestation hypertension and bloating or gassy feeling – so limit your pickles intake.
I’m not craving anything at all. Is it bad?
Contrary to stereotypes, not having food cravings during pregnancy is perfectly normal. In fact, if you’re not craving certain foods – you’re likely to have a balanced diet.
On the other hand, not eating the foods you need because you want to fight off your food cravings – is another story.
Remember, being hungry is your body’s way of telling you about your nutritional needs. Ignoring such signals is not a good choice.
Pregnancy cravings differ from woman to woman – while others crave pickles to satisfy their urge for certain foods, others find eating pickles useful in aiding 1 of the most common pregnancy symptoms – morning sickness, vomiting to be exact.
What’s important is not to give in to pickles craving in excess. Consuming pickles on a day-to-day basis is not advisable.
Eating in moderation is a wiser approach when dealing with pregnancy cravings to avoid any health concerns down the line. However, ignoring your cravings won’t make them go away – enjoy the experience positively.
As much as you can, be healthy – for you and the baby inside you. Remember that during pregnancy, you need to eat “twice as healthy, not twice as much.”
While weight gain is important during pregnancy, gaining too much (or too little) needs medical attention and expert intervention.
Finally, if you’re pregnant and concerned about your strong and weird food cravings, consult your doctor to assess and manage your condition. It’s always wise to be sure and have early interventions than to be sorry.
If this article helps you in any way, I’m glad. Have a great day ahead.