Food cravings and pregnancy go hand in hand, don't they? Whether it be foods you have never eaten (or eaten together), foods you previously found repulsive or foods you like but – while pregnant – can't seem to live without, cravings are just a natural part of your 10-month journey to becoming a new mom.

Michele Thompson, M.S.

bellyBut where do these cravings come from? According to Dr. Amy Korten, OB/Gyn at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital in Montana, there is no definitive answer. "Women may crave certain foods due to nutritional deficiencies and hormone changes, but this line of thinking does not [always] follow logic – some women do not experience cravings at all. It's hard to know if you're craving something because your body needs it or if it's just a food that makes you feel better."

The most popular mommy-to-be craving is for sweets, but strong cravings for salty, spicy or tart foods are also common. Some of us even experience cravings that run the gamut of tastes, textures and combinations of flavors depending on the day (or time of day). And some craving combinations can be quite extraordinary...

An apple a day...
Sarah F., a freelance writer expecting her first baby in August, craves anything sweet and sour but has an equal affinity for "special sandwiches." "My mouth literally waters for Arizona lemonade, Sweet Tarts, Jolly Ranchers and green apples. I've also been craving tuna salad and chicken salad." Her ultimate dish: A chicken salad sandwich from a local deli that has Granny Smith apples in the mix.

Eggceptionally interesting
"Eggs, eggs, and more eggs. I ate them nearly every day, fixed all different ways. My favorite was mashing hard-cooked eggs with boysenberry preserves and Miracle whip and spreading it on whole-wheat toast," recalls Shelly B., personal trainer, mom of one.

Get that mommy-to-be an ice pop!
Michelle M., a tax preparer, expecting her second child in August, says emphatically, "French fries, tacos, and hot salsa, as well as orange Popsicles with the vanilla ice-cream filling are my biggest cravings. And, I don't feel bad about sending my boyfriend out to get them for me."

Pregnancy cravings bring out the "Martha" in her

Dawn P., writer, editor and mom to J.J., had to have something sweet. She proudly recalls, "The big thing was my "smores waffle" invention. I never had a sweet tooth, but during pregnancy I had one often. So I got the idea to take a toaster waffle, put mini marshmallows and chocolate chips inside the crevices and toast them up. Only a pregnant mind can come up with that!"

Kindergarten-food cravings
"With both of my boys, I had to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day. With my first, I threw in a rootbeer float, too," says Christiana B., wine sales representative, mom of three.

Cheesy cravings
When she was pregnant with her first child, recalls Amanda R., freelance writer and mom of two, she indulged in an everyday lunch meal of cheddar cheese chunks and dill pickles piled on top of Triscuits. "I also had to have what my husband called the 'Preggo Special' at Taco Bell: A steak soft taco, a mexi melt and a bean burrito. I would get the same thing every single time. My stomach is now turning..."

There is no way to predict the cravings that you'll experience, but if you are concerned about your sweet, sour or cheesy tooth, talk to your doctor to make sure you're getting adequate nutrients and calories. Then, enjoy your cravings – they may inspire you to create new and wonderful recipes.

Click here for a few pregnancy-inspired recipes that may just satisfy a few of your mommy-to-be cravings.

Read more: Keyword: PICKLES worth 50 points good through 03/09/08.
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