Last Updated on May 1, 2023
Nothing is more ubiquitous with pregnancy than cravings for sweets. Whether you are craving candies, ice cream, bakery, or other desserts, it is natural to wonder if these cravings are simply delicious or a sign of something more.
Cravings for sweets are incredibly common during pregnancy, and may not have a specific meaning. As long as you continue to enjoy your regular balanced diet in addition, honoring these cravings and enjoying the sweets you crave is perfectly healthy.
Like other cravings, there is no clear answer on what exactly cravings mean- but there are a few hypotheses! Continue reading to find out what scientists think might be behind dessert cravings and if a hankering for sweets can give any hints about your pregnancy.
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What Does Craving Sweets While Pregnant Mean?
Depending on where you are in the world, ‘sweets’ takes on a few different meanings.
In the UK, sweets are typically candies while US readers likely think of cookies and cake. Even ice cream and jello (jelly) are part of this broad category. Regardless of what type of dessert comes to mind, cravings for sweets are incredibly popular during pregnancy.
If you are constantly craving sweets, you might also be wondering what your cravings might mean.
While there is no exact answer to what causes cravings, the four main hypotheses for pregnancy-related cravings are:
1) caused by hormone changes
2) your body’s way of telling you about a nutrient deficiency
3) cultural and social factors, and
4) a response to the body’s desire for a compound in the food (source: Frontiers in Psychology).
When it comes to cravings for sweets, a few of these factors may contribute. First, during pregnancy, women are more sensitive to bitter tastes (source: Chemical Senses). Therefore, sweets might just taste better.
Pregnancy and cravings, especially those for sweet foods, also go hand-in-hand in many cultures. Movies and TV shows often show pregnant women eating tubs of ice cream. Cravings for sweets might be so expected that your body starts to crave them (source: Hawaii Pacific Health).
Low blood sugar is also another possible meaning. If you have ever accidentally skipped a meal then gone grocery shopping, you likely came home with a few impulse purchases. As the saying goes, everything looks good when you’re hungry.
Sweets are no different. They are typically made up of simple carbohydrates which are easy to digest and give the body quick energy- just what is needed when blood sugar is low.
Desserts are also satisfying. Even if you’ve eaten a full meal, if you are not physically or mentally satisfied with the food you’ve eaten then you may still crave a sweet treat.
Of course, there may also be no reason at all why you are craving sweets, a dessert may just simply sound good to you- and that’s as good a reason as any to indulge!
Is It Normal to Crave Sweets When Pregnant?
Studies have long shown that desserts and other sweet-tasting foods, like fruits and juices, are the most common pregnancy-related cravings. These cravings are especially common in women who have had food cravings before they were even pregnant, such as cravings during the menstrual cycle (source: Frontiers in Psychology).
All of that to say, craving sweets during pregnancy is not only common but a normal part of the process!
If you find yourself with a hankering for sweets it is perfectly healthy to enjoy some. Do keep in mind that it is important to have room for your normal, balanced diet full of all of the nutrients baby needs to grow, so it is best to avoid having sweets be the main part of your daily diet.
Women with gestational diabetes should speak with their medical provider or prenatal dietitian to find a plan to balance cravings and blood sugar control while keeping both mom and baby happy.
Gender Myths – Does Craving Sweets Mean a Boy or Girl?
For couples waiting to find out the gender of their new baby, whether at a prenatal scan or in the delivery room, the anticipation of learning more about their new arrival is unmatched.
Many new parents try everything to guess the sex of their baby ahead of time. Cravings are the center of numerous old wives’ tales thought to hint at a baby’s gender. Sweets cravings are thought to mean that you are carrying a baby girl. However, there’s no science to back this up.
Unfortunately, cravings are not as accurate as a sonographer (the technician who does your prenatal ultrasounds and scans). Whether you crave sweet or salty foods (or no foods at all), there is an equal chance of having a boy or a girl and a craving for sweets does not tell you anything about the baby’s gender.
What About Craving Sweet AND Salty Foods During Pregnancy?
When craving strikes, sometimes it’s not just for one food, but two! Cravings for both sweet and salty foods at the same time are also not uncommon- just think of the classic pregnancy craving- pickles and ice cream!
When it comes to craving two different types of food, many pregnant women are alarmed at first, especially since this type of craving can lead to wanting more unusual combinations of foods. Just like cravings for sweets and salty snacks alone, cravings for sweet and salty combinations can be a totally normal part of a healthy pregnancy.
As for the cause? It is likely that your cravings are due to the same variety of reasons as cravings for salty or sweet foods alone. Sweet and salty also create a natural culinary balance, so it is possible that cravings for both types of foods is a way to find balance in flavors.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with some useful guidance on what these cravings might mean and ways to incorporate sweets into your healthy pregnancy diet.
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