Pregnancy cravings are weird. For some moms-to-be, having cravings is when they realize they’re pregnant. For others, obsessively wanting to eat a very specific something is a comforting sign after vomiting every morning for weeks on end. Some cravings are bizarre combinations that would turn the stomach of your non-pregnant self, like that cliché about pickles and peanut butter.
My own first craving was fried chicken. And I was a vegetarian at the time! Things got crazy, y’all. A Chick-fil-A opened near my home and I ate Publix fried chicken or Chick-fil-A at least twice a week at first. When I felt guilty about not eating enough vegetables I switched to a Cobb salad with fried chicken nuggets on top. Later, I couldn’t get enough of the Wendy’s Frosty.
I asked 20 moms to share the first thing they absolutely had to eat when they were pregnant. These ladies are all of us with their very real pregnancy cravings. A tub of sour cream, anyone, eaten straight with a spoon? Cold butter on cold bread? Overall, my own cravings seem pretty typical. Salty and greasy fast foods, cold sweets, and fruit seem to be the most popular foods to have when you just have to have it.
Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes
Tammy says she couldn’t get enough strawberry shortcake (or sex, for that matter). “I went to Dairy Queen a lot,” she says. “They had strawberry shortcake ice cream sundaes and I went at least twice a week.”
At least the sex craving was cheaper than the twice-a-week Dairy Queen habit?
Minute Maid Fruit Punch
Rayden says she craved Minute Maid Fruit Punch “straight from the carton.” As cravings go, at least this one has 5% real fruit juice from grapes, pineapples, pears, and apples. “I went through five of those suckers a week,” she says.
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos & Spicy & Sour Foods
“With my first pregnancy, all I wanted were Flamin’ Hot Cheetos,” Ellen says. Now in her second pregnancy, she craves sour things like pickles and salt-and-vinegar chips. She has given up the latter, however, because she has acid reflux and the sour smell on her breath was bothering her husband.
Ellen says she loves indulging in her pregnancy cravings. “It’s like scratching an itch with both pregnancies, it was so satisfying,” she says. And she appreciates how the people around her understand the importance of her cravings and help her.
“One time with my first pregnancy, I really wanted Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but the building didn’t have any vending machines with them,” she says. “My sweet angel baby of an intern walked to Walmart down the road to buy me a bag. I cried when he gave them to me.”
Ellen acknowledges that her cravings for spicy and sour foods didn’t make a lot of sense because the junk food didn’t sit very well. “I ate so much spicy food, as much as possible, to satisfy the craving with my first pregnancy even though I knew I would throw it up later but I didn’t care. I wanted ALL the fire sauce from Taco Bell, I didn’t care about the cost!” she says. “I’m pretty much a garbage can of a human when I’m pregnant. Trash food as often as possible and IDGAF.”
Vanilla Milkshake from Steak ’n Shake
Tiffany couldn’t get enough of Steak ’n Shake Vanilla Milkshakes. “It was so bad with the shakes my husband would buy multiple and bring them home just to put in the freezer so I could have extra,” she says.
Having backups of your fave crave is super important during pregnancy. Take note, partners and spouses!
Jalapeño Peppers & Pickled Olives — Until It Was Revolting
“I could not get enough spicy food,” says Heather. “I normally only like mild- to medium-spice levels, but I was telling my husband to put more jalapeño in our homemade salsa and having to stop myself from eating a whole, giant jar of green olives that had garlic cloves and jalapeños in them.”
But then, all of a sudden, she was not only completely over the craving, she says she was revolted. “My husband offered me some of those olives and I said something like, ‘If you don’t put that away, I’m going to be sick.’”
“So weird,” Heather says.
I agree, but real pregnancy cravings just are weird. Was eating an entire jar of garlic-stuffed olives any less weird?
Sour Cream & Taco Bell Smothered Burritos
Melissa says her biggest craving was sour cream, and next was Taco Bell’s Smothered Burritos, to be eaten with an entire container of sour cream.
How could I forget that in addition to my fried food obsession, I, like Melissa, had a craving for sour cream. I ate it right out of the container with a spoon as my husband looked at me with pure terror — and maybe some disgust? — in his eyes. To this day he doesn’t like sour cream, and I still love it. Coincidence? I think not.
“I craved Krispy Kreme to the extreme,” says Jennifer, who confesses she went to the one by her home so much the staff would have her order ready before she even reached the counter.
“I was feeling lazy one day and used the drive-thru,” Jennifer recounts. “They gave me the wrong order so I swung back around to grab the right doughnuts — except the line was long so I ate the wrong order while awaiting the right one. I have never craved anything like that since.”
Rain City Burgers
Forget the national fast food chains. Sometimes you crave something local, and nothing else will do. “I had to have hamburgers from a place called Rain City Burgers in Seattle, multiple times a week,” says Corinne. Rain City Burgers was rated the 2022 top burger joint in Seattle by Eater.
“I remember looking at my husband one time mid-burg and saying, ‘Oh my god, is this how beef tastes to you?!’ I felt like I couldn’t get enough,” she says. A pregnant body knows what it needs, it turns out, because she says she soon discovered she was suffering from low iron.
“It was watermelon for me,” says Christina. “I ate bowls and bowls of watermelon and people had it at their parties for me. I kept watermelon in my fridge and ate it almost daily,” she says. “Thankfully I was pregnant during summer, when watermelon is at its sweetest, but it definitely did not help pregnancy bladder.”
Watermelon is a natural diuretic that makes your body create more pee. Imagine what that does when you’re pregnant!
“It also helped because I was running so hot during my pregnancy that eating watermelon was refreshing,” Christina says. “What’s funny is watermelon is my son’s favorite fruit. He can chow on bowls of it!”
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, Lima Beans, & Burgers
Rebecca says she craved chicken nuggets and lima beans her first pregnancy, with her son. In her second pregnancy, with a daughter, she craved burgers with lots of messy toppings.
There was some disconnect between her cravings as an urge and what actually satisfied her, however. “The lima beans were a giant disappointment and I almost cried because I swore I wanted them, I ate them, and it wasn’t my craving,” Rebecca says.
Similarly, her chicken cravings were very specific, but she had to try several brands before she discovered which one did the trick. “With the nuggets, I tried every kind of nugget but nothing worked. Then I ate some McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and holy crap I was sold! I ate them all the time, and now my son (7-years-old) still loves McDonald’s nuggets more than any kind,” she says.
“With my second pregnancy I was super emotional if I didn’t eat. Angry and crying because I was so hungry. One time we went to lunch and my sunglasses broke and I lost it,” Rebecca says. “I mean I cried for 15 minutes even as I ate my sandwich — then I felt stupid that I cried over sunglasses, but that emotional hunger was real!”
Hamburgers, Tacos, & Pizza
Sometimes your first cravings aren’t just foods you must eat, but quite possibly the only foods you will eat.
“With my son: hamburgers, tacos, and pizza. That's all I wanted to eat,” says Leslie of her first pregnancy. “With my daughter — sweets! Like bad. I wanted donuts and ice cream constantly,” she says.
With so few foods she was willing to eat, Leslie and her husband thought there was clearly someone else, though not yet born, calling the shots. “My husband and I joked at dinner time — like every night when I was pregnant with my son — asking him, ‘Are we having hamburger, taco, or pizza tonight?’” Leslie says.
TruMoo Chocolate Milk
Jen hungered for a very specific drink. “I craved chocolate milk — but it had to be TruMoo whole milk,” she says. “I bought it by the gallon.”
She says she drank TruMoo chocolate every day and “it felt like it was the best drink that had ever been invented.” While she appreciated her loved ones bringing her chocolate milk, she says her craving was so specific that it caused awkwardness and disappointment. “People would be very sweet and bring me chocolate milk, but if it wasn't the right kind, it didn't do the job,” she says. “Trying to explain to my incredibly sweet father-in-law that the fancy chocolate milk he got for me wasn't going to do it was not my best moment.”
Ouch. At least she gave him a grandchild to smooth over the hard feelings!
“Oh man — I only threw up for four months straight,” says Sarah. “Then finally, one day at like 4 p.m. I called my partner and told him to bring SunChips home on his way from work. I didn’t ask. I told him,” she says. “Harvest cheddar, obviously. He brought the party size bag. I ate the entire thing in one sitting. No lie. The whole damn bag.”
Sometimes when you’ve been sick for so long, only the best chips in the land will satisfy.
Orange Juice & Fresh Fruit
Danielle craved orange juice and fresh fruit — but just once during her pregnancy. “I went out at 10 p.m. one night and bought a ton of fresh fruit,” Danielle says. “I took it home, made a fruit salad, and scarfed it all down within a day or so. It was really the only craving I had the whole time.”
Honey Bunches of Oats
Abby craved Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. “I am not a cereal person, so specifically wanting Honey Bunches of Oats was crazy. I ate it every day for breakfast for a few months until my doctor told me to change my diet because of gestational diabetes,” she says.
Cold Bread with Cold Butter
During pregnancy, satisfying a craving can be better than sex.
“Cold bread with cold butter,” says Caroline. “It all had to be cold — get that toasted sh*t out of here. It was probably related to being in the first trimester in the summer both of my pregnancies,” she says. “I mean… it felt orgasmic??? I told myself I would eat responsibly during my whole second pregnancy, but I would get an entire loaf of bread and a tub of vegan butter and just go to town standing at my kitchen counter.”
Sweet, juicy, and good-for-you citrus fruits may be one of the healthiest pregnancy cravings of all.
Stacie craved clementines. “Completely innocent at first, then I’d realize I would always keep two in my purse at all times for emergencies,” she says. Then her doctor advised her to take slow-release iron tablets daily. “Once they asked me to take Slow Fe every day for iron, it hit me that vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so my mind was blown.”
Frosted Mini Wheats
Caitlin craved Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal and ate it every day. “I just didn't want to eat any meat at all whatsoever and wasn't very hungry overall, and these just tasted so good to me,” she says. “Sometimes I'd eat them like normal in a bowl with milk, but most of the time I just snacked on them dry, straight out of the box like they were chips.”
“It was just sweet enough for a sugar craving, but not too sweet, and I love grain-like foods — dry, bland stuff in general — and I craved that kinda stuff in pregnancy, like plain oatmeal,” she says. “They always tasted delicious and were filling for me when I didn't really want to eat anything else.”
Enjoy those cravings, mamas! It’s time to indulge. What I learned from these stories is that there may be a nutritional reason for whatever you absolutely must eat when you’re pregnant, like meaty burgers or vitamin C-rich oranges when you’re low in iron. And perhaps your baby will have an affinity for the same foods you craved when they’re older and you can share the memories and stories and enjoy the food together. That is, if you’re not completely over those foods you ate for 9 months straight, which can happen no matter how delicious those Flamin’ Hot Cheetos may be right now.