Have you been puzzled by your cheese craving during your pregnancy? What does it mean?
Craving cheese during pregnancy may mean you are deficient in specific nutrients it contains, including calcium or protein. However, craving cheese can also simply be due to hormonal changes that naturally occur during pregnancy.
Much information surrounding cheese cravings during pregnancy is misleading or flat-out false. So let’s dive into the truth surrounding craving cheese during pregnancy!
Why am I Craving Cheese During Pregnancy? Is it Normal?
Craving cheese is very common during pregnancy and is not a cause for alarm or worry. In fact, 50-90% of women experience a craving for a specific food during their pregnancy (Source: Frontiers in Psychology).
They can be caused by hormone shifts, deficiencies in specific nutrients that the craved food contains, sociocultural factors, and more.
When it comes to craving cheese, it often indicates a lack of essential nutrients in the diet, including calcium. This food craving makes sense as calcium needs are very high during pregnancy to support strong bones, nerves, muscles, and much more (source: American Pregnancy Association).
Calcium works together with vitamin D, found in dairy products as well, to prevent the parathyroid gland from releasing a hormone that works to weaken and soften the bones (source: Johns Hopkins Medical School). This weakening of the bones is called osteoporosis and can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures.
Cheese cravings in pregnancy may also indicate a lack of adequate protein in the diet. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women consume between 75 and 100 grams of protein daily.
Protein plays a role in the function of every body system from the muscular system to the immune system to the urinary system. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, such as cheese, and some vegetable sources, such as tofu.
Does Craving Cheese Mean I’m Having a Boy or Girl?
It is a common myth that craving cheese during pregnancy may indicate whether or not you are having a boy or a girl. However, it is simply that – a myth! While it can be a fun guessing game of sorts, there is no scientific evidence that craving cheese means anything more than a nutritional deficiency or hormonal changes.
Is Craving Cheese an Early Sign of Pregnancy?
Similarly to indicating whether you are having a boy or girl, many believe that craving cheese can be an early sign of pregnancy even before testing positive on a pregnancy test. Yet, this is a myth, and unfortunately there is no evidence to support it.
If you crave cheese before being pregnant, it may again be due to nutrient deficiencies — or maybe you simply love cheese, and that’s okay too!
How to Safely Satisfy Cheese Cravings When Pregnant
When you crave cheese during your pregnancy, there are many safe options to help satisfy you. Cheese made with pasteurized milk is safe to consume during pregnancy. Pasteurization is the process of heating to high temperatures to kill bacteria and viruses that may be present.
Cheeses made with pasteurized milk include American cheese, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, and other hard cheeses. Thankfully, most of your favorite cheeses on the grocery store shelves are made from pasteurized milk.
Unfortunately, soft cheeses are best avoided during pregnancy since they are often made with unpasteurized milk and have an increased risk of Listeria, though improbable (source: American Pregnancy Association).
Soft cheese include Brie, Camembert, feta, and gorgonzola. Additionally, avoid Queso Fresco and Queso Blanco as they are often made with unpasteurized milk. The exception is that soft cheeses and Queso cheeses are safe for pregnant women if the packaging specifically states that they are produced with pasteurized milk.
We’ve put together a huge list of pregnancy-safe (and unsafe) cheeses for you to refer to, if you’re a cheese fan.
Additionally, it is essential to note that while cheese is high in calcium, it is also very high in fat. Consuming excess amounts of fat, even during pregnancy, is not recommended as it can lead to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other chronic health conditions. Therefore, enjoy your cheese in moderation!
I hope you found this article helpful in learning more about your cheese cravings and how to safely satisfy these common pregnancy cravings. If you’re craving dairy in general, then you might also be interested in our dairy craving explanation, too.