Peanut butter with pickles? Poll reveals foods pregnant women find themselves craving most often

NEW YORK — With a little bun in the oven, it’s not uncommon to experience a few cravings for food combinations you normally wouldn’t be drawn to. A new survey reveals the weirdest pregnancy cravings that mothers experience, such as “pickles and cheese,” “sardines and ketchup,” “peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches but with five bread layers.” 

Out of 2,000 women who’ve given birth within the last six years, nine out of ten (89%) have experienced at least one type of food craving during a pregnancy. Most popular on the list: seasonal foods, such as pumpkin pie, that happen to be out-of-season at the time the cravings happen (47%). Another 42 percent wanted an unusual combination of food such as peanut butter with pickles, and one in three (35%) wanted a specific food that they could only get at one place.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Vitamin Angels, a public health nonprofit organization working to improve maternal and child nutrition worldwide, the survey also found that by the end of the first trimester, half of all respondents (50%) had started eating more nutritious foods and taking a prenatal vitamin (68%) to support their baby’s health.

Eighty-nine percent of moms changed their health habits to support their pregnancy, with 38 percent starting in the first trimester. In addition to eating more nutritious foods, they also began performing prenatal exercises (51%), drinking more fluids (38%) and sleeping more each night (36%). And before their pregnancy even began, roughly one in ten women (11%) had already started picking out names, and only one in four (25%) had begun taking prenatal vitamins

Pregnant woman eating chocolate
A third of pregnant women say they often have cravings for junk food. (Photo by ORION PRODUCTION on Shutterstock)

“During pregnancy, the daily required intake of several key vitamins and minerals can increase by as much as 50 percent and often cannot be met through diet alone,” says Vitamin Angels Technical Director for U.S. Programs, Colleen Delaney, in a statement. “It’s recommended to take a prenatal vitamin as early as 3 months prior to conception in order to ensure optimal maternal health and pregnancy outcomes.”

In addition to sharing how their health habits changed during pregnancy, respondents also shared how they bonded with their baby during that time. Common ways women connected with their baby during pregnancy included singing to them (56%), talking to them (55%), and reading them a book (49%).

When it came to practicing self-care during pregnancy, respondents participated in prenatal exercise (50%), got a prenatal massage (49%), took naps (48%), and ate nutritious foods (46%). 

“Self-care is such an important component for overall pregnancy health—including prioritizing nutrition,” adds Delaney, PhD, RDN. “Taking a daily prenatal vitamin is a great way to meet the increased nutrient demands of pregnancy and to support healthy outcomes for both mom and baby.”

Most Common Pregnancy Cravings

1. A seasonal food that was out of season at the time (e.g. Pumpkin pie) – 47%
2. An unusual combination of foods (e.g. peanut butter and pickles) – 42%
3. A specific food I could only get at one place – 35%
4. Junk food (e.g. potato chips) – 33%
5. Whole, natural foods (e.g. bananas) – 33%
6. Salty foods – 30%
7. Sweet foods – 30%
8. Food I didn’t normally like eating – 30%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 mothers of kids ages 0-6 was commissioned by Vitamin Angels  between May 2 and May 5, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia is a recent graduate from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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