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Why do Some Pregnant Women Crave Pickles and Ice Cream?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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No one really knows why some pregnant women crave pickles and ice cream, or any other seemingly strange food combination. There are a number of theories about pregnancy cravings, but it has been difficult to pin down a solid biological or psychological reason for cravings. Medical experts do generally agree that pregnancy cravings are very normal, and that unless a craving is unhealthy, satisfying it is probably a good idea.

Some studies have been conducted by surveying pregnant women to see what they crave and when. Salt, sour, bitter, sweet, and hot tastes are often craved at some point during pregnancy, though not necessarily together. Survey data seems to suggest, for example, that women shy away from bitter foods in the first trimester of pregnancy, perhaps because bitterness can signal the presence of a toxin that could hurt the fetus. Women tend to experience increased cravings for salty and sour flavors, like pickles, in the advanced stages of pregnancy, and sweet flavors are often desired in the early stages.

One explanation for a craving like pickles and ice cream is simply that the woman's body is searching for specific nutrients. Many midwives have suggested that pregnancy cravings indicate some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency, and that the body is trying to make up for this by making foods with the needed nutrition seem especially appealing. This is certainly true in the case of pica, a syndrome in which people eat or crave things that are actually inappropriate for eating, like clay and glass.

Other researchers have dismissed this explanation, arguing that pregnancy cravings are linked to hormonal changes in the body. This theory is supported by the fact that many women develop strange food cravings at the points in their menstrual cycle that involve an especially high level of hormones. This doesn't explain why cravings change from pregnancy to pregnancy, however. A woman might want pickles and ice cream all the time in her first pregnancy, and abhor it in the next.

Pregnancy cravings have also been linked to psychological causes. Some people think that women may experience cravings for unusual things because they expect to experience them, in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Women who have experienced the intensity of pregnancy cravings might laugh this off, but the human relationship with food is very wrapped up in psychology. The inner workings of the mind may well be the reason why some pregnant women salivate at the thought of eating spicy crackers, while others crave potato chips.

Although pickles and ice cream are a very stereotypical pregnancy craving, this particular urge actually seems to be comparatively rare. Although some pregnant women crave pickles, they don't generally want them with ice cream, but that doesn't mean that weird food combinations don't happen in pregnancy. Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, for example, are popular with some women, as are many other blends of traditionally salty and sour foods.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon354778 — On Nov 11, 2013

At six weeks, I craved tuna on hot dogs, which is completely not normal. A week ago I just wanted extra pickles on sandwiches. Now, I can't stand pickles on my food, but I eat them straight out of the jar!

By anon302106 — On Nov 07, 2012

I can totally relate to this. I'm 7 weeks pregnant and if I try to, for example, eat bread in the morning, it comes right back up again. But then I really crave a shawarma sandwich the next minute and that one stays down just fine!

I hate looking into my fridge as well. It makes me sick. Sometimes I have some food in mind all day during classes and I can't concentrate on anything else before I eat it.

By anon283337 — On Aug 03, 2012

I love pickles and ice cream. My favorite are Pickle Licker pickles. They are the best.

By anon279039 — On Jul 10, 2012

True story. When my great grandmother was pregnant, she ate dirt and newspaper! What?

By anon259167 — On Apr 05, 2012

I'm 10 weeks and I crave lemons with salt on them. I used to eat eggs, but can't stand them now. I loved sweets before I was pregnant. Now I only eat sweets every now and then.

By anon164059 — On Mar 30, 2011

With my girls, I used to cut up lemons and put them in a ziplock bag with sugar in it. let it sit for a good while. It was so good (to a pregnant woman). I'm six weeks pregnant now and want nothing but pickles or pasta salad with a *lot* of Italian dressing.

By anon139356 — On Jan 04, 2011

I use to love pickles (dill). I would eat them all the time. But since I've been pregnant, I have not wanted them at all. I will still eat pickles on my hamburgers and sandwiches, but not the spears right out of the jar. And I use to not be a big "sweets" person, but now I am always craving ice cream or gummy bears. So weird.

By anon138867 — On Jan 02, 2011

I always thought the pregnancy craving of pickles and ice cream was an exaggeration until I became pregnant myself. I am having an issue with not be able to eating something more than once except dill pickles and fudge pops. I can literally sit down with a pickle in one hand and a fudge pop in the other and go at it for hours and I'm normally a really healthy eater.

By anon133207 — On Dec 09, 2010

I love pickles and cherry ice cream. I crave either that or plain mustard (i eat it by the spoonful) at that time of the month. Usually I don't even realize I'm craving it until after I eat it!

By anon131514 — On Dec 02, 2010

While pregnant with my son, I had a serious aversion to tomato - turns out he can't eat tomato at all. I also had a spectacular reaction to peanuts, for both kids, and their father is allergic, so I'm avoiding giving them peanuts just in case.

I craved bacon cheeseburgers with extra pickles while pregnant with my son.

By anon125228 — On Nov 08, 2010

With my first child, I craved pickled polish sausages and deli pickles throughout the entire pregnancy. With my second child, I ate peanut M&Ms and I normally hate peanuts. My third and fourth children I craved the same things: ice cream, gummy bears and sour patch kids.

By anon108868 — On Sep 04, 2010

I have been craving crazy foods myself, especially pickles and ice cream. It is funny how a lot of women are experiencing the same craving as well.

By anon105765 — On Aug 22, 2010

I am about 2 1/2 months pregnant. Before I got pregnant I loved guacamole and V8. Now just the thought of them makes me nauseous. There have been other strange food aversions too. Like I used to like cold pizza better than hot pizza, now I love hot pizza, but can't even eat it cold! Before I was pregnant, I never ate pork. Now I find myself salivating at the idea of it. So strange!

By anon99386 — On Jul 26, 2010

When I was pregnant I went crazy for tuna fish sandwiches. Couldn't get enough, and finally started eating it right out of cans.

I mentioned it to my doctor, who said, 'oh, you need iron,' and he put me on iron pills. Within a week, the craving was gone.

Turns out: Of all foods we normally eat, tuna is the highest in iron. Don't tell me the body/brain doesn't know what it's doing--I sure felt it in action!

By anon97002 — On Jul 17, 2010

I am in my sixth month of pregnancy and am having a boy. This is going sound weird and maybe inappropriate, but for about a month now I have been having these dreams and sort of fantasies of being with a woman. Although I am not homosexual I continue to have these thoughts. Is there something wrong with me? Is it somehow due to the hormonal changes and testosterone?

By anon91242 — On Jun 20, 2010

I'm two months pregnant and i got on the web to see if any other women were craving the strange things like i have been. for instance, pickles and vanilla ice cream? and anything that has a sauce in it and it turns out they are. i was wondering if there are any others crazy cravings i may encounter?

By anon90299 — On Jun 15, 2010

The crazy things I have been eating have caused me to wonder if I am or not. The main thing is hot pickles with strawberry ice cream (and it has to be the kind with real strawberries in it) or just a hot pickle I put in the freezer. The crazy thing is I hated hot pickles growing up. Regular dill was great, but hot pickles I could not stand.

A friend told me his girlfriend use to crave pickles and ranch dressing and for some reason that sounded good to me also.

I'm thinking maybe I need to go to the doctor soon.

By anon82109 — On May 04, 2010

Pregnant with my first and tomato, lettuce, and mayo sandwiches are a Godsend. Pickles by day and ice cream by night, but not together. If I smell pork or anything frying I run far away. Spaghetti and pizza are daily cravings also.

By anon72720 — On Mar 24, 2010

I am three months pregnant, and now have a very sensitive smell. Whenever I went by a store in the mall that gave off certain odors, I wanted to eat it. Especially pizza! I smelled the marinara sauce and wanted it right away.

My stomach is always churning and I pretty much have to graze on things to keep the nausea down. So I have been eating lots of snacks wherever my nose and eyes lead me!

However, I cannot look in the fridge and see all the combinations of food together, as well as the fridge smell. it makes me very very sick. Haven't had any particular cravings, however I prefer pickles over sweets like fruits.

By anon67336 — On Feb 24, 2010

I am four months pregnant and have had a severe "addiction" to pickles for about two weeks now. I can go through a jar in one sitting! And it can't be the sweet pickles, only dill.

I don't understand why I always want a pickle, but for my family's sake I'm hoping I can slow down this "addiction". Once this crave passes my husband will be a very happy man. Making him make a special trip to the store for a jar of pickles every other day is a little ridiculous!(lol)

By anon59693 — On Jan 09, 2010

I would like to see some women post some of their strange cravings when they were pregnant. Any fun stories of strange cravings out there?

By anon51668 — On Nov 08, 2009

i am not sure that i believe a whole lot of this. I must say that it is too weird of a combination to be enjoyed.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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