Curious Cravings: The Strangest and Most Common Pregnancy Food Combos

Nearly half of all women who report weird food cravings say they want unorthodox combinations, such as pickles and cheese or tuna and peanut butter. 35% crave highly specific food they can only find in one place, then 30% crave foods they did not like before pregnancy.

Pregnant women often experience bizarre cravings for unorthodox food combinations. While there's no scientific evidence explaining these wild cravings, many of the odd combinations and strangely specific cravings are consistent among pregnant women.

A recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vitamin Angels, a public health nonprofit organization, reveals that some pregnancy cravings are more common than others, such as 47% of women craving seasonal foods when they are out-of-season.

Experts and scientists have theories surrounding these cravings, such as cravings being indications of nutrient deficits or a strategy to quell morning sickness and provide more energy.

Kelsey Costa, a US-based registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and nutrition research specialist, explains, “In some cultures, pregnancy offers a socially accepted reason for consuming foods often restricted due to their high caloric content. Interestingly, this lack of accountability for food intake during pregnancy, often seen as a period of dietary freedom, can lead to difficulty in distinguishing hunger and satiety cues, possibly resulting in overindulging in cravings.”

Costa says, “While hormonal fluctuations, active ingredients, and nutrient deficiencies are often assumed to drive pregnancy cravings, current research does not robustly support these theories. In contrast, psychosocial factors may play a more significant role. The prevalence of food cravings during pregnancy seems universal across cultures, but the types of cravings and their impacts may differ, implying that cultural context matters.”

These unorthodox and peculiar cravings could be the result of a lack of guilt over indulging in food, especially in women who were avid dieters prior to pregnancy. 

The Different Types of Cravings

OnePoll’s survey consisted of 2,000 women who gave birth within the last six years. Of these women, 89% stated they experienced at least one intense and specific craving during their pregnancy.

The survey revealed interesting patterns and trends within these cravings, showing how many pregnant women have similar cravings.

Seasonal Foods

While many people associate strange food combinations with pregnancy cravings, the most common type of craving, according to this recent survey, was for specific seasonal recipes difficult to find out-of-season.

Some of the most common seasonal foods pregnant women crave, regardless of the time of year:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Lemonade
  • Popsicles
  • Squash

There is nothing unorthodox about craving one of these foods. However, it is unusual to desire an ice-cold lemonade when it is snowing outside. The same goes for desiring a Thanksgiving turkey leg during August or a slice of pumpkin pie in the middle of May.

Out-of-season foods are not the only untimely cravings pregnant women have. Many also experience cravings that are strange for the time of day, such as wanting curry for breakfast or scrambled eggs for dessert.

Strange Combinations

Seasonal foods proved to be the most popular craving, but strange food combinations are a close second.

Around 42% of the women surveyed said they craved weird combinations of food during their pregnancy. While these food pairings may seem repulsive to the average person, they appeal to many pregnant women.

Interestingly, some of the weirdest craving combinations appear to be the most prominent. It's doubtful this is influenced by pop culture, but no one knows why pregnant women often gravitate toward the same combinations as others.

  • Peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches
  • Sardines and ketchup/tomato sauce
  • Pickles and cheese
  • Peanut butter and pickles
  • Bananas and ketchup
  • Tuna and ice cream
  • Cheese and honey
  • Nutella and mayonnaise
  • Onions and chocolate
  • Pretzels and ice cream
  • Tomatoes and mayonnaise
  • Noodle sandwiches
  • Cheeseburgers with hot fudge
  • Vanilla ice cream with pork

Most people would never dream of topping their ice cream sundae with canned tuna, but many pregnant women report this craving.

How they consume these combinations may also be unusual, such as having a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich with five pieces of bread or eating tomato slices doused in mayo without any other accompaniments.

Specific Food Items

Following odd combinations, highly specific food items were the next most popular craving at 35%. Rather than craving a type of food, pregnant women often crave an extremely specific item, such as a brand of cookie or meal from a restaurant they know.

A woman may crave the lasagna from the Italian place on the other side of town and would not be satisfied with a lasagna from down the street. They may develop a strong craving for the interesting poutine dish they once had on vacation. It is unclear why such specific cravings develop, but over a third of women surveyed reported this type of focused craving.

Other Craving Trends

Following out-of-season seasonal food, funky combinations, and highly specific food items, women reported a few more common cravings. 

  • 33% craved junk food such as potato chips or chocolate
  • 33% craved whole, all-natural foods such as bananas or nuts
  • 30% craved salty foods such as pretzels or cured meat
  • 30% craved sweet food like ice cream or candy
  • 30% craved foods they did not like or eat prior to being pregnant

Strongly desiring a food you did not like at all before being pregnant seems odd, but happens frequently.

Timeline of Pregnancy Cravings

While pregnancy cravings can be powerful, they typically dissipate by the end of the first trimester. Specifically, the more unusual and bizarre cravings end for most women by the 12th week of pregnancy.

Following these cravings, most pregnant women switch to consuming healthier, more nutritious food for the baby. Roughly 50% of the women surveyed said they practiced healthier eating by the second trimester as their cravings subsided.

While these surprising cravings are still somewhat of a scientific mystery, the weird combinations and eccentric food urges seem consistent among pregnant women and have even been shown to reduce pregnancy-related stress.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.