Is Craving Ice During Pregnancy Normal?

If you are pregnant and find yourself eating a lot of pickles and ice cream, don’t be alarmed. Often women experience strong desires for certain foods during their pregnancy. Nearly 70% of expecting mothers have cravings so you are not alone.

Sometimes these food desires can be a little off the wall. If you are craving ice, you may have a condition called pagophagia. Simply said, the term means you eat ice a lot, sometimes even eating it throughout the entire day. So what brings on this unusual desire for ice?

Why Am I Craving Ice During Pregnancy?

Woman eating ice

No one knows exactly why some people crave ice so there is little information on the condition. However, some researchers think there is a link between pagophagia and an iron deficiency. What makes this somewhat bizarre is the same people craving ice do not necessary eat other foods with high iron content.

Recent studies have found that anemic patients had over a 50% chance of craving ice, where non-anemic patients have less than a 5% chance. It was also noted that the anemic patients had mental improvement from chewing on ice and experienced boosted response times.

What to Do About It?

Craving ice during pregnancy is actually more common than people think. One in four or five expecting mothers desire eating ice on a regular basis. If you plan to take iron supplement or treat it on your own, talk to your doctor first. You may have an underlying condition causing your iron deficiency. As a pregnant woman you need to get enough iron, with the recommend daily dose being 27mg. Finding natural sources is best as your body will be more accepting and they are less likely to cause bowel problems.

Iron FoodSources of Iron

  • Lentil or Bean Soup: One 8-ounce serving will give you almost 50% of your daily recommended intake.
  • Spinach: Though it does not have the highest content of iron, it does offer some as well as other benefits when eaten uncooked.
  • Red Beets: If you want your daily dose plus more all at once, eat one uncooked beet, which contains more than 3 times the recommended daily amount.
  • Liver: While most people don’t like the way liver tastes, it is very iron-rich.
  • Soybeans are very high in iron. Add blanched and shelled soybeans to a fresh salad.
  • Spirulina: You can consume 25% of your daily intake of iron with only one 15 gram serving of spirulina.
  • Shell Fish (Clams, Mussels and Oysters) contain lots of iron. Make sure to eat them completely cooked when pregnant and make sure they come from clean and low mercury waters.
  • Black Strap Molasses: To boost your iron, consume 1 teaspoon for 3 days at 3 times a day and then skip for 4 days. Repeat if you need to.

When you lack the iron you need, your concentration and mood can be affected. You might experience bad moods, headaches and fatigue. Your pregnancy might already flare up some of these symptoms so it is important to get yourself checked. Often, craving ice during pregnancy is not a concern and there is no need to worry, so don't fret until you see your doctor.

Necessary Additional Nutrients

Vitamin CBesides boosting your daily intake of iron, you should also find ways to increase the amount of blood your body makes in order to avoid anemia. Nutrients that help include:

  • Protein: Adding a spoonful of peanut butter or almond butter to a meal can help.
  • Vitamin C: Foods like citrus fruit and tomatoes contain high amounts of this nutrient.
  • Vitamin B6: Good sources include dark leafy vegetables, fish and poultry.
  • Vitamin B9 Folate: To get this nutrient naturally, stay away from foods that are high in fortified folic acid. Instead opt for whole grains, beans and some vegetables.
  • Vitamin B12: This is actually a vitamin the body maintains very well, but if you need to add more eat eggs, fish, dairy and poultry.

Would It Cause Any Harm?

If you don’t have an iron deficiency, there isn’t really any harm craving ice during pregnancy. However, crunching on ice all day may be damaging to your teeth. Your teeth are meant to chew food, not hard and dense ice cubes. Talk to your dentist to make sure you are not hurting your enamel, especially if you are experiencing sensitivity to cold and hot foods.

Other Commonly Craved Food in Pregnancy

There are several other common foods craved by pregnant women. You might desire some of these:

Ice cream sundaeSweets: Ice cream, cake, chocolate and pies are very common cravings for expecting mothers. Ways to combat these sweet food desires is to incorporate more fruit into your diet. Eating too much sugary food may knock your blood sugar level off balance, so compensate by eating several small meals spread through the day.

chips and dipsSalty: Chances are if you don’t crave sweets, you may crave salty food like chips, pretzels and pickles. If you eat them, do so sparingly in order to avoid too much sodium. Too much salt may lead to swollen hands and feet.

TacosSpicy: Another common craving of pregnant women is spicy foods. Mexican food is a favorite. Some women even find they can handle the heat of the spices better when pregnant. However, beware as too much may cause heartburn.


Sour food: Researchers have found several women crave sour foods such as lemons and limes. These citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and other nutrients, but be careful to monitor your consumption as they are high in acidity and can damage your teeth.

Non-food: Craving ice during pregnancy may be a little bizarre, but some pregnant women have been known to crave dirt, plaster and other non-food items. If you are experiencing these cravings, see your doctor right away. You may have an underlying condition.