Though not unique to pregnancy, chocolate cravings in pregnancy are in no short supply. Since many food cravings can clue you in to your and baby’s health throughout pregnancy, many women wonder what might be behind their strong prenatal cravings for chocolate- aside from a delicious treat, that is!
Chocolate cravings are a perfectly normal part of a healthy pregnancy. No matter if you have a hankering for a chocolate bar, cake, or chocolate milk, cravings for chocolate are also safe to satisfy.
Dark chocolate, white, or rich chocolatey desserts- does the kind of chocolate you crave tell you anything more about your pregnancy? I’ll clue you into what these other types of chocolate cravings during pregnancy might mean.
Craving Chocolate During Pregnancy: What Does it Mean?
Chocolate craving isn’t just for the movies, it is also the most common food craving among American women (source: Frontiers in Psychology).
Pregnant women are no stranger to cravings, especially since strong food cravings happen during two specific times- during pregnancy and around monthly menses- for many women. Intense cravings during pregnancy can feel wrong, or like a sign that something sinister is going on, but it isn’t so!
There are a number of reasons why women crave chocolate during pregnancy. Unlike some other pregnancy cravings, there was actually no definitive link found between hormonal changes and chocolate cravings (source: Appetite).
Rather than hormonal, research has shifted to focus on the influence that cultural and psychosocial factors play.
Chocolate is undoubtedly indulgent. Just think of the names for chocolatey desserts such as Devil’s Food and Death by Chocolate. Pregnancy is a time when many women are encouraged to indulge, ‘eat for two,’ and recoup the hard work of carrying a child by eating feel-good treats.
Not only rich, chocolate is also such a common food craving that it is nearly expected to crave chocolate at some point during pregnancy (source: Frontiers in Psychology). Both of these factors combined make chocolate cravings hard to resist.
Some pregnant women crave only certain types of chocolate, whether that be white, dark, or milk chocolate. Regardless of which type of chocolate you prefer, there is nothing out of the ordinary about chocolate cravings.
As all types of chocolate are safe to enjoy whilst pregnant, feel free to have a bite and satisfy your craving. For an in-depth guide on how much chocolate is safe and healthy throughout pregnancy, head over to our guide to chocolate.
Craving Chocolate Milk or Milkshakes During Pregnancy
Whether you imagine sipping on a frozen chocolate milkshake or just an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk on a warm day, there are many different reasons why you might be craving chocolate dairy drinks.
Both chocolate milk and milkshakes tend to be fairly sweet, so your pregnancy cravings could simply be tied to wanting a sweet treat. When it comes to chocolate milk, the chocolate syrup/flavor can also tone down the milk taste, which many women find less appealing or have aversions to while pregnant.
Milk cravings, including hot chocolate milk, are thought to signal your body’s efforts to increase the storage of calcium and phosphorus (source: Nutrients). Both of these nutrients are crucial during pregnancy as they help support the development of your baby’s skeleton.
Just like solid chocolate, chocolate milk and milkshakes made with real chocolate do contain some caffeine. The amount is very small, only around 2 milligrams per cup, but if you are choosing to eliminate all caffeine then this is something to keep in mind (source: US Dairy).
It might come as a surprise that chocolate milk is considered a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB). SSBs, chocolate milk included, is still safe to drink during pregnancy, however, it is recommended to drink them in moderation and not as your regular beverage choice (source: Nutrients).
This can be hard if you are having strong and frequent cravings for chocolate milk! You can try pouring it into a smaller glass or mixing up a batch of chocolate milk at home, using less chocolate powder/syrup to get your chocolate milk fix minus some of the sugar.
How to Safely Indulge Your Pregnancy Chocolate Cravings
Whether it’s a bar of chocolate, a piece of cake or a big glass of chocolate milk is there anything to be aware of before enjoying it? Chocolate is (typically) both caffeinated and sweetened with added sugars. Both of these things are safe in moderation while pregnant, but helpful to keep tabs on.
The caffeine content depends on the amount of cocoa solids in your chocolate treat. A good rule of thumb is ‘the darker the chocolate the higher the caffeine.’ White chocolate is uncaffeinated whereas dark chocolate can contain more than 26 milligrams of caffeine per ounce (source: USDA).
Up to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day can still be safe during pregnancy, so eating just 2 ounces of dark chocolate is around 25% of the daily limit alone (source: March of Dimes).
Feeling a sweet tooth? Find out how much caffeine is in your favorite chocolates with our ultimate guide.
Chocolate is typically labeled as indulgent for a reason- it’s sweet! If you’ve had discussions with your medical provider about limiting sugar intake or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then it is important to be careful about how much chocolate you eat.
While darker chocolates are typically more caffeinated, they are also typically less sweet and therefore less prone to spiking your blood sugar level.
Some chocolate treats, such as mousse, are made with raw eggs and are not always pasteurized for safety. If you’re buying these types of prepared desserts be sure to check the label and opt for pasteurized versions to lower your risk of foodborne illness.
Bearing your daily caffeine intake in mind, overall chocolate is still definitely safe to enjoy in moderation while pregnant.
To explore all of the benefits and safety throughout pregnancy, here’s a deep dive into all things chocolate which you can find here.
Does Craving Chocolate Mean I’m Having a Boy or Girl?
Rumor has it that if you crave sweet foods (such as chocolate) during pregnancy you should be expecting a baby girl as the new addition to your family.
As sweet (pun intended) as taking a hint from your cravings would be, there is unfortunately no scientific evidence to back up this old wives’ tale. Even though craving for chocolate will not clue you into your baby’s gender it is still fun to guess- not to mention delicious!
Searching for something sweet often ends with chocolate, and it’s no surprise given that it is the top craving among US women. Even though the exact cause is not known, the research and hypotheses show that cravings for chocolate can be a normal part of a healthy pregnancy.