What Does It Mean When You Crave Peanut Butter While Pregnant?

Pregnancy cravings can be positively nutty. Hormonal hankerings for snacks range from the mild, such as Doritos dipped in cottage cheese, to the downright bizarre, like strawberry ice cream garnished with pepperoni. They may stagnate, leaving you wanting the same thing for dinner for weeks on end, or they can be wildly unpredictable, culminating in late-night deliveries of nostalgic fast-food chicken nuggets. And sometimes cravings can be off the wall — literally. Pregnant people may even yearn for nibbles of inedible substances, from sand to plaster. This condition is known as pica, which experts say should not be indulged. "[Pica patients] crave and often eat chalk, clay, paint chips, or dirt. The craving can be intense," OB-GYN Erin Higgins tells Insider.

Many parents-to-be have an affinity for one of the finest nutritional pastes known to the human palette: peanut butter. "[Pregnancy] peanut butter cravings are real. I once cut the plastic jar open to lick the inside clean," one Redditor confessed. Of course, nearly everyone enjoys a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich from time to time. But why do some of us seem to have such strong pregnancy cravings for peanut butter every day?

Here's what your constant peanut butter cravings could mean

Just like other cravings, pining for certain foods during pregnancy can be caused by various factors, from nutritional deficiencies to plain-old advertising tactics. A recent study published in Nature Metabolism found that pregnant females can experience pronounced changes in brain circuitry, making sweet and fatty foods far more appealing. While there hasn't been much research on the most commonly reported pregnancy cravings, it's safe to say that peanut butter is a favorite snack of those who are expecting.

There's nothing wrong with giving in to your desires for peanut butter — unless, of course, you have an allergy to peanuts. Those with peanut allergies that find themselves with this confusing craving can speak to their doctors or midwives about satisfactory substitutions. While some propose that eating peanut butter while pregnant can cause allergies in infants, researchers point out that there's no definitive evidence that this can occur. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that reports are conflicting when it comes to maternal peanut consumption and subsequent allergies in children. However, it's important to read the labels on peanut butter jars. "Sugar should not be listed on the label of your peanut butter [in order for it] to be healthy," nutrition specialist Liz Josefsberg tells Today. Many nut butter brands contain unnecessary sweeteners and additives, which can easily be avoided by selecting natural options.

How to satisfy pregnancy cravings for peanut butter

Finding delicious ways to get more peanut butter in your diet is easy. You can graze on something virtually effortless, like peanut butter on toast, or whip up an easy peanut-based snack like homemade energy balls. Or, if you're looking to get more antioxidants in your diet, try pairing peanut butter with your favorite crunchy produce. "There are many nutritious ways to eat peanut butter by using it as a dip for fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, carrots, or celery," Ashley Irwin, R.D., tells Newsweek. And if you've never had the pleasure of trying freshly ground peanut butter, look for it at your health food store or local food co-op. It has a pleasant, earthy taste that's good enough to eat on its own.

When it comes to cravings, peanut butter is one of the best foods you could long for. Peanuts are a good source of nutrients like choline and folate, which are both essential to supporting a healthy pregnancy. "Nutrition is always important, but especially so during pregnancy, because what you eat is going to be the main source of nutrition for the baby," registered dietitian Jaime Tucker told Self. Peanut butter isn't just delicious a delicious snack during pregnancy; it also provides you and your baby with nourishing fatty acids and vitamins. Therefore, you shouldn't feel guilty if peanut butter is a pregnancy craving that won't go away for you.