The Amazing Allure of Junk Food During Pregnancy

In the wake of the mass freakout over Amber Miller running a marathon while ginormously pregnant (and subsequently going into labor after she walked the last 13 miles), I keep thinking how impressed I am by her dedicationand how utterly foreign it is to me. I don't hold the opinion that she did anything unsafe, I just cannot for the life of me imagine what it's like to run a half marathon with a full term belly. (For one thing, I'm pretty sure I would have slowly but steadily peed myself the entire time.)

Also, I was way too busy to take the time to train for and participate in a marathon. You see, during both my pregnancies, I had one very important task that occupied nearly all of my waking hours and most of my nighttime dreams: food. Food, and the act of shoving mass quantities of it into my pregnant pie-hole.


It wasn't that I went into pregnancy with the belief that it was the perfect excuse to throw moderation out the window, it was that nearly as soon as I peed on the stick, something bizarre happened to food. Suddenly all these things that I used to like were making me queasy, while other things took on a nearly spiritual level of deliciousness.

I can't lie, the foods in the second category were primarily utter crap.

During my entire first trimester I had a constant overwhelming desire to eat anything and everything that might contain large amounts of 1) sugar, 2) salt, or 3) fat. My fantasy meal typically included lustful thoughts of upending an entire bag of salt n’ vinegar chips into my gaping maw, following that with a massive glug of banana milkshake, maybe throwing some tropical flavored Jelly Bellies in there too, what the hell, and oooh, how about a peanut butter and bacon sandwich, oh yes, yes, yes, YES!

In fact, I have photographic evidence of my food preferences during my first pregnancy. Behold, a meal I ate on Friday, February 18, 2005:

(Yes, that's an ENTIRE thing of liverwurst right there. I . . . wow.) (Also, is liverwurst off limits for pregnant women now? I bet it is. Stupid ever-changing food rules.)

When I was expecting my second son I was determined to stay in better shape. Oh, I had grand plans to continue to eat a restricted—but totally healthful—diet throughout that pregnancy, and I would remain exactly the same size everywhere except my belly. Ha ha ha ha HAAAAAA! Seriously. You’d think I'd received a lobotomy along with that first C-section.

I had forgotten how the combination of low-grade nausea and weird cravings resulted in an absolutely unstoppable desire to eat certain kinds of foods, and often times those foods are Cheetos. Certain other foods, such as salad, became unacceptable to the point of triggering a tiny little cat-barf gag in the back of my throat. Vegetable and lettuce, together? HURK.

Pregnancy is the only time I’ve ever experienced this sort of crazy pornographic relationship with food, where the right thing (such as Deli Rye Triscuits blasted with E-Z Cheese) could actually elevate me to a higher plane of existence, a place where angels were singing and my tastebuds were doing a happy little hoedown and sparkly unicorns are blowing heart-shaped balloons from their lifted, rainbow-y tails. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing . . . even worth all the hard work it took to lose the weight afterwards, I'd say.

It's funny, though, how eating lots of junk during pregnancy is usually viewed as a fairly benign, acceptable thing to do, while tons of people apparently think running a marathon at 39 weeks is as dangerous as holding a gun to your belly while gnawing raw fish and smoking a Virginia Slim. As for me, I think Amber Miller is pretty damn amazing. If I were ever to get pregnant again, I would definitely run . . . straight back to the snack food aisle.

Go ahead and confess: did you have junk food cravings when you were pregnant?

Image via Flickr/Raison Descartier

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