During pregnancy, most women will have a variety of cravings and it is not uncommon for some women to crave things that have no nutritional value. These types of cravings are known as pica and some of these cravings can even be non food items like chalk or dirt. While pickles, ice cream and other sweet and salty foods are the more common cravings women will yearn for, eating ice while pregnant is also common. What can be causing these ice cravings? This article will cover just that.

What Causes You Eat Ice While Pregnant?

Ice Cravings and Mineral Deficiency

During pregnancy, women need to produce more blood to support the fetus. This increase in blood results in the need to take in more iron as the developing fetus will take more iron out of the blood being circulated. Women who find themselves craving ice may actually have an iron deficiency. Because ice has no nutritional value, the mineral deficiency is never corrected.

Ice Cravings and Eating Disorder

Overeating ice during pregnancy can result in an eating disorder. Since ice has no nutritional value, it can often be used as a way to combat excessive food cravings during pregnancy. This habit can turn into an addictive habit over the course of the pregnancy. Indulging in continuous ice cravings can be damaging to both the mother and baby's health.

While ice cravings can be a sign of issues with pregnant women, there are also a number of pregnancy symptoms that eating ice can help alleviate.

  • Eating Ice for Morning Sickness. There are a few lucky women who never experience morning sickness during their pregnancy, but most women will feel some type of nausea during at least the first trimester. “Morning sickness” doesn't just occur in the morning, it can occur at any time of the day and even throughout the entire pregnancy. Since so many foods and beverages, including water, can cause this morning sickness, many women find comfort in chewing on ice cubes that won't have this nauseating effect.

  • Eating Ice to Lower Caloric Intake. Eating ice while pregnant can help reduce the calories you consume. There are no calories, fat, carbs or sodium in ice, so you can eat as much as you want without gaining a pound. In fact, since your body needs to raise the temperature of the ice to eat it, your body will burn more calories. Your metabolism also increases since the ice is hydrating your body. While it would take a significant amount of ice to actually help you lose weight, it is often used to help curb hunger cravings. However, keep in mind that you need to be eating enough healthy foods to properly supply yourself and baby with the right amount of calories, vitamins, and nutrients.

  • Eating Ice for Burning Mouth Syndrome. Burning mouth syndrome can range from feelings of numbness in the mouth, pain, tongue tingling, burning sensation on the lips or even a crawling feeling in the mouth. There is no clear indication as to why this occurs, but acid reflux, nutritional deficiency, and dry mouth can be the possible causes. Ice can help alleviate these symptoms, but antibiotics or other medical treatments may be necessary if the conditions worsen.

  • Eating Ice for Heartburn. Heartburn can be a painful experience that most women do not experience until they are pregnant. Heartburn is common later in the pregnancy when the baby is bigger. As the baby grows, the organs begin to squish together and the acid in the stomach tends to climb up the esophagus and to the back of the throat because of the lack of room. The burning sensation and acidic taste heartburn can cause can sometimes be soothed from sucking on ice. While eating ice won't completely relieve heartburn, it will give temporary relief.

  • Eating Ice for Stress. There are many habits your body yearns to help fight off anxiety, stress or frustrations, and eating ice while pregnant can be a good way. However, it can also be an indication of severe emotional issues. While pregnant, it is best to help control your stress instead of covering it up by chewing on ice.

Is It Safe to Eat Ice While Pregnancy?

All pregnant women have a specific number of calories they need to consume to ensure their baby develops and grows in a healthy manner. This is why diet during pregnancy is an important aspect that woman focus on. While eating ice can be normal during pregnancy, you are not supplying your body with the nutrition that is needed.

Women who tend to chew on more ice during their pregnancy will have a greater risk of developing deficiencies. Iron, zinc, protein, and carbohydrates are all vital components of a healthy diet that women who increase their ice intake will not get enough of.

How to Deal With Eating Ice While Pregnant

It is normal to crave ice while pregnant, so the first thing to do is not to panic. You want to consult your doctor and inform them of your cravings so that they can better explain the risks and ensure you have a clear understanding of what can be causing these cravings.

Once you recognize your continuous ice cravings, there are some way you can help deal with them.

  • You want to monitor your vitamin and mineral intake, especially iron.

  • Find an alternative to chewing on ice, like chewing on sugar-free gum.

  • Let a friend know about your problems of eating ice during pregnant, so they can help you avoid this habit.


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