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Pregnancy Cravings: When You Gotta Have It!

Pregnancy and food cravings go hand in hand; 3 experts offer suggestions for healthy cravings.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

Pickles and ice cream. Cheese Whiz on steak. Brownie mix -- straight from the bowl. While these may not exactly seem like gourmet fare, if you're pregnant they can seem like heaven on a plate.

The reason: Pregnancy cravings - those seemingly unquenchable longings for oftentimes eclectic combinations of foods that you might never otherwise even dream of eating!

But what's behind these mysterious food fantasies, and can they ever be harmful? Doctors say the answers depend a lot on what you are craving.

"No one really knows why pregnancy cravings occur, though there are theories that it represents some nutrient that the mother may be lacking -- and the crave is the body's way of asking for what it needs," says Andrei Rebarber, MD, associate director of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at NYU Medical Center in New York.

When that overwhelming desire for pickles or processed cheese hits, Rebarber says it could be the body asking for more sodium. That aching for a Big Mac and a plate of fries may be your need for more protein, sodium, or potassium. The burning in your belly for a double helping of chocolate double latte ice cream may be signaling a need for more calcium or fat.