Why Do Some People Crave Sweets When Pregnant?

Pregnancy is a time when you want to do everything right. You try to eat right, exercise, de-stress, and provide the perfect environment inside and out for your developing baby. It's also a time when your body seems to go haywire and exhibit an unending array of changes.

On average, you may start to experience early pregnancy symptoms about four to six weeks after conceiving, including nausea, heartburn, breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, and fatigue (via Healthline). So you try your best to adjust to the multitude of discomforts during your first trimester when the extra hormones arrive swiftly, causing all the uncomfortable side effects. 

Yet after a few weeks of this, your body starts to adjust to the influx of hormones. Nausea suddenly lifts and your appetite returns. Just about then you may also notice cravings for certain foods (via Insider). One of the most craved types of foods during pregnancy is sweets. 

What sweet cravings mean during pregnancy

Craving sweets during pregnancy is similar to craving them during PMS (via Washington Post). You might want something sweet after you finish a meal, especially dinner, but you can also crave them at any time of the day, seemingly out of the blue. It can be both a physiological and a psychological urge.

Part of the reason is that pregnancy cravings cause you to desire foods that have strong flavors, including sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. That's where the common pickles and ice cream combination comes into play. 

Typically your body craves sweets for a few different reasons. One cause is thought to center around your body's need for extra caloric intake during pregnancy (via MedlinePlus). When you crave foods with high calories especially foods like cake, cookies, and ice cream, it can be your body's way of trying to get enough calories to support the pregnancy.

How to satisfy the urge for sweets

Often, craving sweets can signal a drop in your blood sugar, so the body tries to get you to eat what will raise it quickly and restore homeostasis (via Pregnancy Food Checker). Pregnancy often causes your body to demand you pay attention to it, so if you go too long without eating, it will let you know. That's another reason it's important to eat nutritionally dense and balanced meals.

Experts seem to be divided on whether cravings need to be indulged (per BabyCenter). Some believe that they stem more from psychological urges than biological needs, like nutrient deficiencies. Yet, others maintain that your body knows what it needs. Some say if you're craving chocolate, you may need more magnesium, citrus cravings signal you could use some Vitamin C, and when craving red meat, you need more protein in your diet.

When giving in to a sweet craving, you can also opt for healthier choices like fruit and yogurt rather than donuts and cake. Still, occasionally indulging in a decadent sweet is a normal part of eating, too, whether pregnant or not. However, if you find yourself intensely craving sweets daily, especially if accompanied by increased thirst and frequent urination (via Mayo Clinic), mention it to your doctor, as that may be a sign of gestational diabetes.