When we started collecting and hoarding cravings like pregnancy-obsessed hamsters, patterns quickly began to emerge. We kept encountering the same foods over and over (times infinity) again. This is a list of pregnancy’s biggest hits. The rock stars of cravings that all maternity wear shops should keep in the impulse-buy aisle.
10. FAST FOOD
The thing with fast food is that almost all nonpregnant people also have a burning desire to stuff it into their food-hole. But it can’t be denied, we did come across a lot of McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King cravings. Since fast food is an excellent source of pretty much nothing except calories, it seems most likely that it is just a magnification of a normal craving because people are now eating for two.
“Let’s have watermelon for dinner!” said
no one ever. a lot of pregnant women. Alone or in a whacky combination, watermelon is the summer fruit everyone forgot about until they were impregnated. And there is good reason it keeps making a comeback on pregnant women’s shopping lists: watermelon is the Superman of maternity foods. Although it is mostly water, it is water absolutely drenched in vitamins A, B6, and C, lycopene, antioxidants, and amino acids. “Can water really be drenched in things?” you say. Yes. Now stop asking irrelevant questions and let’s get back to the wondermelon. Because of its high water and nutrient content, it can help with heartburn, swelling, and morning sickness—you know, all those things soon-to-be-moms keep mentioning are a teeny weeny bit uncomfortable. So let’s hear it for the watermelon. Defeater of Morning Sickness, Queen of Nutrients, Destroyer of Heartburn, Wateriest of Melons.
Slathered on muffins or popsicles, together with sardines and coffee, or even eaten directly out of the jar, mustard just kept popping up everywhere. It was like one of those new trends that you just can’t believe people are doing. And then you can’t believe how many people are doing it. Then, suddenly you seem to be the only one not doing it. And just like with all of those regrettable perms, mullets, awkward facial hair, and visible G-strings, people tend to look back on that period of their lives and ask themselves, “What the hell was I thinking?” It turns out that pregnant women’s bodies are probably thinking “selenium.” Mustard is an excellent source of this trace element, which is very important for the nervous and immune system of the fetus. Low selenium levels are also linked to miscarriage or low birth weight. It’s even good for men’s fertility, too. So give the mustard a high five and keep your judge-y eyes to yourself if you happen to see a pregnant woman drowning her popsicle in mustard.
We heard stories of women eating so much ice they chipped their teeth. And how many had freezers packed full of nothing but ice and partners who were driven to insanity by the incessant crunching. Another thing many of them had was anemia. It appears ice soothes inflammation in the mouth—one of the symptoms of anemia. So if you find yourself throwing your pizza and ice cream away to make space for ice, be sure to make an appointment at the doctor. And hey… if you aren’t going to eat that pizza…
6. SPICY THINGS
Whether it be Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, hot peppers, hot sauce, hot sauce, hot sauce, or hot sauce, there is a good chance it has a rabid fan club of pregnant women. It may be because hot foods make you sweat, which actually helps you keep cool. It may be because pregnancy turns your taste buds into crazy little aliens. Whatever the reason, a bottle of hot sauce in the bag when there wasn’t one before is a good reason to suspect a baby in a belly where there wasn’t one before.
5. DIRT AND OTHER NONFOOD CRAVINGS
Dirt, bricks, laundry detergent, soap, toothpaste, nail polish, matches, and sponges are just some of the items that make it onto the Weird Yet Weirdly Common Pregnancy Cravings list. Nonfood cravings, or pica, are way more prevalent in pregnancy than most people are aware of. And more so in developing countries. In Denmark 1 in 10,000 women admitted to eating dirt or clay when they were pregnant. But in Kenya, 1 in 2 did. That’s right. Half. And just like with ice, nonfood cravings are often (but not always) related to anemia or other deficiencies. The moral of the story is if you are craving anything unusual, talk to your doctor about it. The other moral of the story is that pregnancy most definitely isn’t for sissies.
4. PEANUT BUTTER
Everyone knows good ol’ peanut butter and jelly. But what about peanut butter and onions? Or peanut butter with scrambled eggs? Or peanut butter with hot dogs? All these lesser-known PB&s have been eaten—and adored—by pregnant women. There was a time in the early 2000s that doctors were advising women not to eat peanuts when they were expecting, to avoid nut allergies in their children. But times have changed, as times often do. And the latest, most up-to-datest advice seems to be that eating peanuts and peanut butter might actually lessen the possibility of allergic reactions. Plus peanut butter is packed with some good stuff for mother and baby, like folate and antioxidants. Which means if you are pregnant and craving peanut butter, feel free to indulge and create your own weird and wonderful PB& combination.
3. ANYTHING SOUR
It is possible that we hold the dubious distinction of having heard the word “pickle” more than anyone else on the planet. But we also discovered that while women from the United States are likely to grab a pickle in times of pregnancy, women in Poland make a beeline for the pickled herring. Women in Germany stock up on sauerkraut and women in the United Kingdom often reach for a pack of salt and vinegar chips. Because it turns out many pregnant women LOVE sour things. It wasn’t the pickle after all, it was the pickling! Vinegar was what all these women were after. Having exposed the pickle for the shameless credit-stealing vegetable that it is, we patted ourselves on the back for our amazing detective work, put our pipes in our mouths and returned to Baker Street. But not before exposing a few more culprits along the way (lemon and sour candy to be specific). The current theory is that craving sour things makes pregnant women eat a wider variety of foods and therefore a more balanced diet. Elementary, my dear Watson.
Maybe it is because chocolate is a great source of magnesium. Maybe it is because chocolate is the most amazing thing in the world. Whatever the reason, one in seven of the recipes in this book contain chocolate in some form. It is safe to say chocolate and pregnancy go together like chocolate and Valentine’s Day. Or chocolate and breakups. Or chocolate and Halloween. Or chocolate and Easter. Or chocolate at the movies. Or chocolate at midnight, unwrapped with the utmost stealth so you don’t have to share. In fact, it is quite hard to find something that chocolate doesn’t go with. Very hard but not impossible (see here, Shrimp with White Chocolate)
1. ICE CREAM WITH…
The cliché is true. Pregnant women are keeping the ice cream industry afloat. And Pickles and Ice Cream is definitely a thing. There is also an impressive degree of creativity in their ice cream toppings. Popcorn, hot sauce, ketchup, French fries, chicken, beef sticks, and steak are just a few of the combinations we came across. We are relatively confident that, if you can eat it, a pregnant woman somewhere has put it on ice cream.