Why Do People Crave Ice Cream When Pregnant?

Who doesn't love a cold scoop of ice cream on a warm summer day ... or any day for that matter? Even if you're lactose intolerant, there are delectable versions of lactose-free ice cream that taste no different (via Healthline).

Ice cream often holds a palace of nostalgia for us as it conjures up memories of childhood or simply being carefree (via Audacy). Whether a soft serve was a treat for a job well done or a favorite weekend outing, there was nothing like hearing the ice cream truck coming down the block.

Of course, ice cream is also delicious. It's the perfect blend of sweet, cold, and creamy. Yet it's still so frowned upon to enjoy eating ice cream once you emerge from childhood. In moderation, ice cream is a purely enjoyable dessert and it's one that should be savored, especially during pregnancy when cravings are intense.

Craving ice cream may be biological and emotional

Opinions are often split on whether pregnancy cravings are due to emotional or physical needs. Hormonal changes often cause a heightened sense of taste and an urge for strong flavors during pregnancy. Yet there is also an emotional need being met, too (via Healthline).

Registered dietitian Diane Javelli tells UW Medicine, "Research suggests that specific areas of the brain may be responsible for memory and associating certain foods with a reward. Food cravings often occur to help satisfy emotional needs."

So while we may go to ice cream because it stirs up soothing feelings inside, we do get a biological perk from doing so.

"It's common to crave sugar and sweets in times of stress," says Javelli. "Often those sweets are sources of fats, and that sugar-fat combination may help increase serotonin, a brain chemical that acts to help calm us."

In addition, being pregnant often gives people the "allowance" to enjoy the food they previously became used to avoiding or restricting. During pregnancy, you'll require about an extra 500 calories per day (via VeryWellFamily).

Go ahead and give in to your ice cream craving

When considering a craving for ice cream, it's better than a lot of other foods you might indulge in, especially those with preservatives, nitrates, and sulfites (via What To Expect). Though you can find lots of ice cream brands with chemically infused ingredients, opt for ice creams that clearly state on the label that they contain only natural ingredients. Steer clear of artificial colors and preventatives.

Ice cream has beneficial ingredients. First off, it contains calcium and during pregnancy, you should be getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. It also has about two grams of protein and seven grams of fat in about a half-cup serving (via Healthline). It also has about 14 grams of sugar.

Anyone who has been pregnant knows that it's a wonderful and special time in life, but it's also riddled with discomforts, strange body changes, and ongoing concerns. Sure, eating an entire pint of ice cream isn't the best option but a good old waffle cone or cup of vanilla with sprinkles every now and then never hurt anyone.