Those Pregnancy Chocolate Cravings: Mental, or Physical?

Early in my pregnancy, I was casually strolling the aisles of Lowe's Home Improvement with my husband. With the cash register impulse buys, I spied a packet of Red Vines. My reaction caught me off guard: I have never, ever wanted any single food item so badly. I needed it. It was a downright visceral, bodily urge.

And if you've ever experienced a pregnancy craving too, you know that it can feel about as physical a need as thirst in a desert. But are they? I was fascinated to read in New York magazine that new research suggests pregnancy cravings may be indeed be mental.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, focused on chocolate. Instead of craving chocolate, say, as a biological response to needing more calories to support a growing fetus, or as a result of fluctuating hormones, or out of a desire for caffeine during a period of flagging energy — the research showed that women may be drawn to chocolate during the one time in her life it's "socially acceptable" to indulge in such consumption.

The study found that during pregnancy, "women take on a more functional view of their body, which legitimizes divergence from cultural ideals of thinness and restraint." Few women, according to the research, even report efforts to battle their cravings.

Apparently, we figure if we're ever going to settle in for some Netflix binge-watching with a spoon in a bucket of rocky road—pregnancy's the time.

But let's hear from the mamas out there: Do you buy the idea that your pregnancy cravings are all in your head?

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Your pregnancy appetite can be confusing. Here's how to understand your wacky cravings.

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