An intense desire to eat some specific foods is experienced by almost all women during their period of pregnancy. During pregnancy, some of us may even develop a strong feeling of dislike towards some food that we enjoyed before. These food cravings and aversions vary from person to person and have also been seen to change during different pregnancies/or stages of the same pregnancy of the same person.
What Causes Food Cravings During Pregnancy?
Some of the experts studying pregnancy cravings point hormonal changes during pregnancy as an important reason behind these overwhelming urges. According to this theory, a woman’s sense of smell and her ability to taste sharpens during the first trimester of pregnancy when her body is loaded with pregnancy hormones, creating aversion or fondness towards some specific foods and smells.
Some researchers believe that the taste buds can understand our body needs and they relate craving with deficiency. That is, if your body is in need of sodium you will crave for salty foods and so on. The same way a woman who used to drink alcohol before getting pregnant, develops repulsion towards it once she gets pregnant. Except that this theory does not support any dangerous craving during pregnancy.
Some mothers-to-be are found to crave for non-food things like mud, soap, hair etc. which is a dangerous condition called pica. Although cravings are comparatively innocuous and bearable, unhealthy cravings and cravings for same food daily will affect your balanced diet which should not be allowed. If you are craving for foods that result in empty calories will null nutritional value, you will just gain more weight and expose your body to toxins. It is very important to get rid of or control such cravings.
What Food Cravings Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
No matter how intense your cravings are, these food cravings should be cleared off for good.
- Cigarettes and drugs
- Non-food items like mud, soaps, dirt etc.
- Eggs, meat, and fish which are not properly cooked
Putting some effort and having some knowledge about food and nutrition will help you to overcome the challenging food cravings you experience during pregnancy.
Top 8 Ways To Deal With Food Cravings During Pregnancy
Let’s find 8 healthy and satisfying ways to deal with food cravings in pregnancy.
- Recognize the reason for your craving: Craving may be an indication of the need of vitamin and minerals that your body needs. Sudden urge to have dairy products might be an indication for the need of more calcium. Craving for meats may be an indication for the need of more protein. Try to find out the reason behind your craving. If it is because of some deficiency, then solving that deficiency will definitely help you overcome your craving
- Eating at regular times: Always remember not to skip your breakfast. A healthy breakfast will help you to avoid midday cravings to an extent. Dropping in blood sugar level may trigger your cravings for sweet. So take small frequent meals so that your blood sugar level will remain intact
- Find an alternative in a healthier way: Substituting the high-calorie food that you crave with a food with the similar property but lower in calorie is another way to deal with food cravings during pregnancy. You can always choose frozen yoghurt or frozen fruits bars over a calorie rich ice-cream. Same way selecting salted nuts instead of potato chips when you crave for salty short-eats. Choose baked food instead of fried ones. Always try to find a healthy alternative and have it when the craving strikes you
- Controlling the portions: If you badly want to eat a food which can’t be replaced or substituted, don’t torture yourself by not having it. Go ahead and have it, but only take a small portion of it. And even if you crave for it every day have it once in a while. Like you can fix the frequency yourself as once in a week or so on. Just make sure you won’t have it every day. If you like to have a chocolate bar, go for a smaller bar which will satisfy your crave and not hamper your health
- Eat balanced diet: Always have a balanced diet every day which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and dairy products which supply required amounts of all the essential nutrients and dietary fibre the body needs when you are pregnant. Taking a small portion of not so healthy food, for what you craved, after a well-balanced diet won’t affect the development of your baby
- Emotional support: Mood swings and the ebb and flow of emotions are found to be another reason that will trigger cravings. This is a proven fact that the emotionally unstable mind will try to find comfort through the process of eating food. All you need is a hug and emotional support from your loved ones to overcome your cravings. Ask your family members for any help that you might need and talk your fears and apprehensions out
- Distract yourself from cravings: Try to distract yourself when the craving hits you. Move out of the places where you store food, chat with your mother or sister or friend over the phone, and start talking. Reading a book, watching a movie, taking a stroll outside etc. might help you to distract yourself from the thought of food
- Physical activities: Physical activities like going for a walk and regular exercise that is allowed for you will help to control the craving. If you feel tired drink plenty of water which will again delay your craving
Small cravings that are not bothering you is a good experience that will make you smile when you recollect it later in your life. It is always fun to remember and tell your child how your loved ones ran in search of the food you craved when he was inside your womb. Enjoy the pregnancy and have some good fun every once in a while.