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Health & Pregnancy

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Here's to Pickles and Ice Cream

Constant Cravings

WebMD Feature

Jan. 7, 2002 -- You've heard of the doting husband who runs out at midnight to buy pickles and ice cream for his pregnant wife, who simply couldn't get to sleep without her fix. Legend, you might say? No way. These great guys -- oh yes, andpregnancy cravings -- really do exist.

Bob Gaviglio satisfied his wife Jean's yen for doughnuts -- chocolate honey-dipped, thank you very much -- whenever the mood seized her, with a run to Dunkin' Donuts. And not just during one pregnancy, says Jean, but all three.

"I felt that given the two options -- running around doing things like this or carrying this load in my stomach -- I had by far the better deal, so I was more than willing to do that type of stuff," says Bob, senior relationship manager at the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York.

Lots of women admit to weird cravings and aversions during pregnancy. In most cases, they're nothing to worry about. You should enjoy the new taste sensations you're experiencing as a mom-to-be. Just don't let them replace a healthy diet for the next nine months.

Enjoy the Ride, but Only Around the Block

Food cravings and aversions during pregnancy haven't been explored with any great scientific rigor, so no one knows for sure just how widespread they are, whether certain foods are more common than others, or even why the phenomenon occurs. And it's hard to know just how much of it is psychological.

"If a woman has been raised to believe that during pregnancy one craves pickles, then ... she's likely to crave pickles," says Roy Pitkin, MD, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, and editor of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Doctors and nutritionists do say a woman's senses are often heightened during pregnancy, however, causing certain foods to smell and taste a whole lot better, or a whole lot worse -- triggering the nausea associated with morning sickness.

"There are definitely comfort foods," says Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietician in Boston and author of Pregnancy Nutrition: Good Health for You and Your Baby. "Once you start eating something and realize you like it or that it feels good, then you think again about having it."

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