Your question about having cravings while you are pregnant raises an interesting point: are food cravings in pregnancy due to addiction or hormones alone? And yes, indulging in your cravings can impact your baby.
Pregnancy is a time of hormones gone wild: the increases in estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin lead to insomnia, mood disturbances and food cravings. At the very least, the pregnant woman still have abnormal taste and smell perception, which leads to the intense desire for some foods and aversion to others.
Having abnormal food cravings in pregnancy is very normal: one South African study showed that up to 84% of pregnant women have some kind of food craving. It does not mean you are a food addict if you are wolfing down sugars, fats and sour foods uncontrollably. It is an example of how hormones can strongly dictate appetite. Typical foods that pregnant (and premenstrual) women share are chocolate, pizza, cheese, even ice, and in some cases mud or dirt or cigarette butts. These cravings, that can be contrary to a women’s usual diet, occur most often in the first trimester.
“ I am eating for two” is the most common rationale for indulging in your cravings. Beware though! Junk food habits of the new mother can get past on to the baby. Although neither mother or baby may be food addicts, both can become sensitized to the compelling lure of these processed foods so that these foods will always be just a little more tempting. Furthermore, genetic and in utero and early environment variable all can contribute to the creation of a food addiction.
If you must eat spicy foods, or odd combinations of tastes, try to go for the most nourishing and least processed variety of your cravings. This will help you nourish your baby and also provide a good template for his / her eating habits in the future.