Craving Beef Jerky While Pregnant (Why It Happens & How To Handle It!)

There is no limit on the variety of cravings a woman can have while she is pregnant! Spicey foods, ice cream, cheese, and beef jerky are all very common cravings. It is that last one, beef jerky, that we are going to take a look at it today. Is beef jerky safe to eat during pregnancy?

While beef jerky is high in protein, it is best to consume it sparingly, if at all, while pregnant. It is also high in sodium, which can lead to dehydration and worsen morning sickness; overeating jerky could raise your blood pressure to dangerously high levels. Additionally, the preparation method doesn’t guarantee that it will be bacteria-free.

Still curious about eating beef jerky while pregnant? Well, keep reading below to find out everything about eating beef jerky while pregnant!

Is it normal to crave beef jerky while pregnant?

It is possible for pregnancy cravings to run the entirety of the culinary spectrum. One day you are wanting bags of fast food; the next, you can want to load your plate up with fruits and vegetables, and the next, you could want heaps of beef jerky! Research suggests that 50 to 90 percent of women will experience cravings while pregnant.

Pregnancy cravings typically start in the first trimester and become their strongest during the second trimester. By the end of the third trimester, the cravings should begin to lessen until finally going away entirely after the baby is born.

Doctors are not completely sure why pregnant women crave certain food flavors and textures. Many believe it to be the result of hormonal changes inside the woman’s body or that the body is craving foods that will replenish missing vitamins and nutrients.

Is beef jerky safe during pregnancy?

To know whether or not it’s safe to eat beef jerky while pregnant, it’s important to understand what beef jerky is.

At its simplest, beef jerky is lean trimmed down strips of meat. The meat will undergo a dehydrating process but is not entirely cooked. Often a large amount of salt is added to help preserve the meat and aid in preventing bacteria growth, although it is still possible for bacteria to be present. Beef jerky gets its flavor from being seasoned with spice, marinated, or smoked.

The only positives beef jerky offers expecting moms is going to be protein and the fact that it can scratch a specific craving or itch. Those two things aside, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant to consume beef jerky.

In fact, studies suggest women who eat large amounts of meat of any type while pregnant tend to experience more severe morning sickness symptoms.

Beef jerky is often loaded with salt. While salt is excellent at helping to preserve the jerky, it can severely affect blood pressure. As a result, overeating beef jerky could potentially raise an expectant mother’s blood pressure to dangerously high levels!

There are brands and flavors of beef jerky to satisfy any taste or craving. Let’s take a look at some of the more common beef jerky brands and what’s in them!

Nutritional Information of Popular Beef Jerky Brands

BrandProtein
(per serving)
Calories
(per serving)
Total Fat
(per serving)
Sodium
(per serving)
Old Trapper11g700g590mg
Cattleman's Cut10g800.5g560mg
Tillamook Country10g903g730mg
Jack Link's11g801g590mg

Another possibly harmful – even deadly – effect of eating beef jerky while pregnant is the risk of toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite, toxoplasma gondii, and can be acquired from cat feces or eating undercooked meat. The illness is the reason women are advised to avoid changing or coming into contact with kitty litter while pregnant.

While many people who contract toxoplasmosis are relatively symptom-free, babies born from infected mothers can suffer from birth defects.

Here are a few symptoms associated with toxoplasmosis:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes, often in the neck region
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Inflammation of the lungs, heart muscles, and eyes

Is beef jerky a healthy snack during pregnancy?

Beef jerky can be thought of as the ultimate on-the-go snack food. It has an incredibly long shelf life, and its small size makes it perfect for throwing into any backpack or bag.

Plus, jerky is loaded with helpful vitamins and minerals:

  • Loads of protein
  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins A & C

As great of a snack as beef jerky can be, it still isn’t recommended for pregnant women. The large amounts of sodium and salt used to preserve the meat during the curing process can also pose a significant health risk to the mother and unborn child!

Although it can taste and feel well done, beef jerky is not cooked thoroughly. Because of this, consuming it does pose the risk of you being exposed to harmful bacteria and the parasite toxoplasma gondii.

Is beef jerky cooked or raw?

Beef jerky is not a raw piece of meat; it is cooked, but not in the traditional sense.

Thin strips of beef are selected, and as much fat as possible is removed from the meat. Any fat left on the meat will not dry out, hindering the dehydration process. Next, the strips are heated for a period of time and coated in salt before being dehydrated.

Is beef jerky cooked before it is dehydrated?

After the fat is removed from the strips of beef (or other meat types), it is cooked some before dehydration.

It is recommended that beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, 165° for poultry, before the dehydration process.

Along with adding salt for flavor and preservation, the meat will often be rubbed with spices, marinated, or smoked for added flavor.

Which type of beef jerky is best to eat during pregnancy

If you are wondering what the safest beef jerky to eat while pregnant is, I have some bad news for you.

All beef jerky should ideally be avoided during pregnancy. 

If your cravings for meat are starting to get the better of you, don’t despair! As long as you are using moderation, there is no reason you can’t dig into a delicious steak. It’s still critical that you make sure the meat is well done, though. Ideally, a one-inch steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of 170°F to have it well done.

If you’re still craving a portable snack option and can’t get the idea of beef jerky out of your mind, you have one other option. Vegetarian jerky is a plant-based product that, while it may not taste identical to beef, may help tide you over till the craving passes!

What does it mean if you crave beef jerky while pregnant?

Craving beef jerky while your pregnant doesn’t necessarily point to a greater need. It’s a delicious salty snack that can be hard to walk away from! That’s why it can often be found on shelves at check-out lines.

It is worth keeping in mind that craving meat in general while pregnant could be your body’s way of replenishing lost iron and protein.

Your little one will be mooching off of you before they are even born!

It is essential to talk to your doctor about any cravings you may be experiencing. While usually normal, reporting your cravings could help your doctor identify problems before they become more serious.

Does craving beef jerky while pregnant mean it’s a boy or girl?

The world is full of old wives’ tales and myths. And wow, are they a lot of myths about pregnancy! Let’s take a look at some:

You’re having a boy:

  • Your nose spreads
  • You have bright yellow urine
  • Your hands dry out
  • You keep having headaches

You’re having a girl:

  • You crave sweets
  • Your morning sickness began early in pregnancy
  • You have dull yellow urine
  • Your breasts are larger

According to the old wive’s tales, if you’re craving meats… it’s a boy! Except, of course, there’s still a 50% chance you’re not because there is no scientific (or even solid anecdotal) reason behind this belief.

If you want to learn more, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!

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