It is unknown for sure why some women experience cravings during pregnancy. It is most likely due to shifts in hormones. Some women may even crave non-food items such as, dirt, clay, ice, laundry starch, or coffee grounds, which is called pica. These cravings should be discussed with the pregnant woman’s care provider.
It has been noted that cravings are particularly prevalent in eating and weight-related issues. Interestingly, food cravings are seen most commonly in North Americans.
Cravings in pregnancy are seen mostly in the first trimester of pregnancy and taper off toward the second trimester. Along with cravings, food and smell aversions may happen at this time.
Some hypothesis for why some women crave certain items during pregnancy may point to a biological nature of preserving the well-being of the fetus by which a women’s olfactory sensation and taste sensations are heightened during this time to prevent ingesting any toxic substances. Another is that she may be deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, such as commonly seen in the second trimester of iron deficiencies and craving sweets or chocolate. One last reason may be that the woman craves the pharmacologically active ingredients in certain foods.
Bringing awareness to a woman’s attitude and behavior toward her eating habits is the best way to help combat food cravings, at least for now, the studies suggest.