We’ve all been there. Just starting to show, maybe four or five months into your pregnancy—you’re finally over that gosh-awful first trimester. Ugh, the morning sickness, the food aversions, the smells! Well, maybe you still have the smell thing going on. You know, all of a sudden, your husband’s cologne smells like a nauseating wet donkey. Okay, and perhaps we haven’t all been there. But for people who have borne children, the second trimester is the start of the mostly fun, kind of terrifying, food-filled adventure that is pregnancy.
With an emphasis on food.
Around 50%-90% of women experience food cravings during their pregnancy. Some of these cravings are food they already enjoy. Some are things they would never have dreamed of eating. My craving was a cupcake the size of my head with a ton of strawberry buttercream frosting—which I never did get. But some food cravings are so strange, so out-of-the-ordinary, so, for lack of a better word, gross, that only science—maybe—could explain it. Pregnant women get kind of weird. Without further ado and without judgment—despite the label of the article—here are the top 10 grossest pregnancy cravings.
The craving for dirt during pregnancy is not uncommon. But just because the craving happens doesn’t mean women take a spoon to their flower pot. The brain certainly tells them, “Hey, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea,” but hopefully, they refrain. The whole eating dirt thing is not so good for you.
Pica is the craving for non-food items that hold no nutritional value to the body. The word “pica” stems from the Latin for magpie. Magpies, though intelligent birds, will eat almost anything—fairly similar to pregnant people. People with pica have an insatiable craving for ice cubes or dry starches like cornstarch, dirt, paper, clay, laundry detergent, and charcoal. Though specialists don’t know the exact reason for it, they suspect that iron-deficient people are more at risk.
About 27%-68% of pregnant people suffer from pica, and its ill effects are pretty obvious. Those who ingest dirt or other chemical-based, non-nutritive substances may end up consuming toxic substances. This poses a risk both to the mother and the child. So though it’s funny to think of somebody pregnant digging into that bag of Miracle-Gro, it’s actually pretty dangerous.
You can wipe down windows with vinegar, remove foul odors from your Tupperware, make tasty salad dressings, and of course, brine cucumbers to make pickles. Vinegar is useful for so many things, even as a daily health regimen. But very rarely do you hear of people drinking straight vinegar—unless it’s midnight at a bar and you’re doing picklebacks with your very drunk friends. Obviously, you need more pregnant friends. They’ll gladly do picklebacks without the whiskey and are probably easier to deal with.
Sounds gross, but pregnant populations who crave straight vinegar are onto something. Pregnancy can result in morning sickness, aka nausea from h-e-double hockey sticks. For most, it settles down after the first trimester, but it can last the entire pregnancy. Because pregnant people can’t take any old over-the-counter medication to help with their nausea, they tend to look for holistic alternatives. One of those alternatives is apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar balances out your stomach’s pH, neutralizing the amount of acid sloshing around in there. Hard core people drink the vinegar straight, but it’s much more tolerable cut with some water and honey.
Then there are those people who just want to drink the brine from the pickle jar. No nausea, just because. Straight-up savages.
8 Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Dipped in Lemon Meringue Pie
No, we didn’t just come up with this combo on the spot for the shock factor. We’ve known a lot of pregnant people, and this is just a crazy craving one of them happened to have. There are two layers to this craving that justify dipping the obviously manufactured hot Cheeto dusted crunchy thing—it could just be fried pasta, who knows?—into a goop that looks similar to vaseline. The first is spice. The second is sweet.
Both spice and sweet trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s happy hormones. Since pregnant bodies are constantly at odds with their fluctuating hormones, any chance at happiness is completely welcome—even if it’s in the form of junk food capsaicin and sugary calories. Unfortunately, spicy foods can upset anyone’s stomach, especially a pregnant person in the third trimester. You may have to stick to the lemon meringue pie.
Did you ever want to bite into a raw onion just to know what it’s like? I have. I’m not ashamed to admit that. No, I didn’t do it. But some pregnant people have! Craving onions, sauteed or otherwise, isn’t gross in itself, but the pungent nature of onions can result in some stinky breath. It’s a stink you can’t get rid of just by brushing your teeth, either. Once you invite onion breath into your home, it’s there.
Still, despite the odor, onions can be beneficial for pregnant people. Onions prove that your body knows best. It knows what it needs and signals you to eat things to fulfill that need, ergo, cravings. In the case of onions, they are full of quercetin, which helps aid the body’s immune system, and contains anti-inflammatory properties. They are also rich in key nutrients for pregnant women: vitamin C, B6, folate, and more.
So if you see a pregnant person biting into a raw onion like an apple, watch your gag response. They’re actually eating a strange sort of multivitamin. And giving themselves wicked bad breath.
6 Hot Dogs Out of the Package
Hot dogs are processed like bologna. It’s essentially deli meat in an intestinal casing. We usually eat them piping hot, wrapped in a fluffy bun, and topped with mustard and, for the controversial, ketchup. Sometimes, though, when you’re pregnant, you just want to eat it cold. Your body wants that iron, protein, and B-vitamins, even in this floppy, slimy, and who is anybody kidding, obscene form.
But no matter what you do, no matter how intense the craving, do not eat a “raw” hot dog. There’s a reason so many food restrictions are placed on pregnant people, and uncooked hot dogs are a really good example. Hot dogs are breeding grounds for Listeria. A pregnant body that contracts Listeria means potentially severe consequences for both the mother and child.
But wait, aren’t hot dogs precooked before they’re packaged? Yeah, they are, but that means nothing. Even after processed and packaged, those little wieners can get Listeria. This is the same reason pregnant people should avoid deli meats. Listeria hot spots. It’s a gross fact of modern-day, Westernized eating, but true. Listeria is not fun and not worth indulging in a pregnancy craving.
5 Mayonnaise on Everything
For the “five golden rings” topic, we have mayonnaise. Personally, I don’t think craving mayonnaise is evil. Eating mayonnaise, unless it’s homemade, is safe for pregnant people as well. But there are plenty who think the condiment is one of the grossest things ever.
Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s made from oil and eggs, or that it’s gloopy and makes an odd crackling noise when you spread it on bread? Or perhaps it’s because of its naturally euphemistic nature—who knows? But I guess that when you’re craving spoonfuls of it or putting it on anything you can chew, the craving does get a little out there.
One of the more popular applications of “pregnancy mayo” is with french fries. Some pregnant people like it on pizza. But why? Why put mayo on everything? A craving for mayonnaise during pregnancy could indicate the body’s need for increased stores of fat and calories. Pregnant people need to take in 500 extra calories on average.
It could also be your body telling you to consume some vitamin K. A serving of mayonnaise has 25% of your required daily intake of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for normal clotting and, therefore, safe labor.
4 A Mashed Potato Sundae
Oh, this one sounds good! Except that it’s not really. Instead of substituting chocolate sauce with gravy, and a cherry on top for a side of cranberry sauce, this one uses caramel sauce. Yup! Mashed potatoes and caramel sauce.
This gross combination comes from a book intended to appeal to pregnant people’s odd cravings. Mashed potatoes are a common pregnancy craving on their own. They are carb-loaded and easy to eat if you’re feeling queasy. Potatoes in themselves also have impressive levels of Vitamin C and B, important nutrients for the pregnant.
But any potential health benefits mashed potatoes can provide seem to be offset by all that sugar. Eh, whatever, you’re pregnant and you deserve some caramel sauce over your…um…potatoes.
3 A Cottage Cheese Swirl
One pregnant Instagram user posted a picture of her craving that got all the “odd pregnancy cravings” lists talking. It is a cup of cottage cheese with a yellow mustard swirl. I mean, whatever floats your boat, but couldn’t you just say you drank mustard from the container instead? Anyway, let’s see why this combo would exist in the first place, starting with cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese, being a dairy product, is a great source of calcium. Someone who is pregnant should get at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day—the minimum recommended dosage for anyone. If you don’t meet this requirement every day, it’s not the end of the world, but since you’re growing a whole new set of bones inside of you, you should really try. The body is going to prioritize the growing baby’s needs so make sure you’re getting enough calcium for yourself, too.
Mustard deserves its own category. And if you’re eating the condiment by itself, yeah, it’s kind of gross. Yes, pregnant people eat mustard by itself. Not all, silly, just the ones who are craving it! The second half of our combo mentioned above, mustard, despite being unfortunately paired with a chunky, creamy cheese substance, has some benefits for pregnant women.
Mustard seeds contain minerals like iron, copper, and manganese that help boost immunity. There’s also sulfur, which is a natural antibacterial. Another benefit to mustard is its anti-inflammatory properties and metabolism-regulating vitamins—folate for one.
Those horse pills your OB/GYN tells you to take when you’re pregnant are full of folate. It’s a crucial vitamin during pregnancy and aids in your baby’s brain development. Adding a little mustard to your meal here and there can be a great way to help that along. And adding a little to your cottage cheese is enough to make the internet get morning sickness.
1 Hot Sauce and Milk
Whenever I think of milk as a craving, I think of that scene from “Anchorman” where Ron Burgundy is walking along the streets of San Diego on a sweltering hot day, depressed, and drinking a container of milk. “Milk was a bad choice!” Hot sauce is the equivalent of this hot day.
One woman on a women’s forum wrote that she used to go to Roy Rogers and ask for handfuls of hot sauce packets. She’d put the hot sauce on everything! On top of that, she’d drink a half-gallon of milk every day. Something to neutralize the spicy, I guess? Between the endorphins from the hot sauce and the calcium and fat intake of the milk, the combo must have totally satisfied a craving.
But at the same time, the idea of the two things mixing in her stomach just hurts mine.