In the early days of pregnancy, I was obsessed with carbs. I woke up thinking about carbs, spent my day eating carbs, then went to bed at night dreaming of carbs.
It was the same when it came to icy drinks, and I'd often stop en route to preschool to purchase a slushy – and at 8am in the middle of winter, that got me some funny looks.
However, I never experienced any truly strange cravings and nor did I put together any random food concoctions. But many women do, and a new online cookbook is proving just that.
The cookbook, Eating for Two, is the brainchild of two artists, Vicky Ebbinghaus and Juarez Rodrigues, and has detailed instructions on how to create some rather strange 'meals', accompanied by a stylised picture.
The initial inspiration for the cookbook project came from a pregnant friend, who admitted to secretly eating Oreos and toothpaste at night.
The artists then obtained further bizarre recipe combinations by researching pregnancy cravings and speaking with other expectant mums.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the pair said, "We thought it was interesting that some rather disgusting things could be incredibly tasty to someone who is pregnant.
"So we decided to photograph them just as the women who crave them must see them; in a really mouth-wateringly delicious way."
All the recipes featured on the site are real, genuine cravings and have been eaten by a pregnant woman. The artists even went as far as making, trying and rating them all as part of the project.
Needless to say, they won't be rushing back for many of the dishes again.
"The worst dish, by far, was the soap. We had the feeling it gave our mouths post-traumatic stress disorder, because not only did it taste terrible, but the taste lingered for hours and hours afterwards," they said.
"The orange and tomato sauce one was really awful too. Surprisingly awful; Juarez actually stopped eating tomato sauce after that experience."
Other recipes from the online book include mashed potato with caramel sauce, Mars Bar burgers, steak with ice cream and chocolate olive cake.
Strange pregnancy cravings are something that Virginia Pessahna can relate to.
"I ate mustard directly out of the jar when I was pregnant with my son, then ate chicken nuggets dipped in McDonalds' chocolate sauce when expecting my daughter," she says.
Leanne Jones had a similar experience.
"I had chocolate ice cream and tomato flavour crisps during my first trimester and, even though I was sick after, it was just what I needed at the time," she says.
So why do we have these cravings during pregnancy, and is it okay to embrace them?
"There are a number of different theories why we get cravings during pregnancy – many of which relate to hormonal changes – but we still don't really know what causes them," says Natasha Murray, accredited practicing dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
In the case of unusual food or flavour combinations, however, Murray says there's no problem with indulging within reason.
"As long as you maintain a healthy diet with a variety of foods from all the food groups, these cravings can still be enjoyed in small amounts," she says.
Despite this, she warns that there are some exceptions.
"Foods that have a high risk of carrying listeria should be avoided – things like cold cooked chicken, pate, soft serve ice cream, uncooked seafood and soft cheeses," she advises.
Murray also offers the following tips for healthy eating during pregnancy:
- avoid eating for two – you only need to increase your food intake slightly
- eat small amounts often
- include red meat in your diet at least three times a week as a source of iron
- choose low fat dairy as part of meals and for snacks
- take a folic acid supplement and eat foods high in folate, such as green vegetables, fruit, legumes and breakfast cereals
- include iodine rich food such as bread, eggs and seafood
- avoid sugary foods or caffeine to boost your energy
- avoid alcohol
- ensure food is heated and reheated to piping hot.
- if you have non-food cravings (eg chalk, charcoal, rocks) please let your doctor and/or midwife know, as this can be a sign of anaemia.