Why Do Some People Crave Cheese When Pregnant?

It's not unusual to reach for a jar of pickles on the table when you're pregnant and surprise everyone at the table (and maybe even yourself). Weird pregnancy cravings are a topic that most expectant mothers are likely familiar with. From craving vegetables during pregnancy to wanting to add lemon to a glass of water, the pregnancy cravings list can be long and often amusing. 

There is no agreed-upon scientific explanation for why these cravings develop. However, some logical explanations, per Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, could be "something lacking in the diet, or an increased need for certain vitamins and minerals." Pregnancy cravings typically start during the first trimester for most women, according to Healthline. A 2014 study published in Frontiers in Psychology noted that about "50-90% of U.S. women experience cravings" during pregnancy.

A somewhat less weird and fairly common pregnancy craving during your first 12 weeks is a craving for cheese. Maybe you've always been a fan of cheese or maybe the love was solely brought on because of pregnancy, but there's no denying the wonders of this dairy product.

Why the pregnancy craving for cheese?

Changes in hormones and a deficiency of specific nutrients such as calcium, essential fatty acids, and protein seem to be the most accepted reasons behind a pregnancy craving for cheese. According to the National Library of Medicine, consuming sufficient calcium reduces unfavorable gestational outcomes, while also ensuring that the baby is developing healthily when ionized calcium is transferred from the mother to the fetus. Calcium is an important mineral that is often associated with healthy bones and teeth. As per the American Pregnancy Association, consuming adequate amounts of calcium during pregnancy can ensure healthy "musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems" in the mother. 

A pregnant mother needs about 1000 mg of calcium per day, according to the American Pregnancy Association. While calcium can be found in most fruits and vegetables and even fish, cheese is known to be one of the richest sources of the mineral, so perhaps that's why your pregnant friend drowned her spaghetti in cheese during lunch yesterday. Protein is another important nutrient that will ensure both mother and baby remain healthy during pregnancy. A baby's tissue, organ growth, and brain development all depend on protein intake, per Healthline. Research also suggests that a mother's protein needs vary depending on which trimester she is in. A 2015 study published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that pregnant mothers may need anywhere between 70-100 grams of protein a day.

Cheese is an abundant source of protein, so perhaps, it is no wonder that some women crave it during pregnancy.

Does a craving for cheese mean you're having a boy?

The pregnancy craving for cheese has also been linked to a fair share of myths. One common myth is that your desire for this dairy product is a sign indicating whether or not you are about to have a baby boy or a girl. Per Pregnancy Food Checker, there simply is no scientific evidence to support this. Similarly, craving all things cheese is also not an early sign of pregnancy.

While the desire to have more cheese during pregnancy in itself is innocent enough, it is also important to understand the dangers of consuming the wrong kind of cheese or even consuming unhealthy amounts of it. Cheddar, Gruyère, and parmesan, which are essentially pasteurized or unpasteurized hard cheeses, are generally considered safe according to the U.K.'s National Health Service

Also, much like with anything in life — whether it's enjoying your favorite flavor of ice cream or adding on an extra serving of cheese to your plate — it is best to exercise the helpful discipline of moderation.