One of the first questions my clients and friends ask me is if I’d had any food cravings during my pregnancy, and surprisingly the answer is: NO! While there have been times that I’m in the mood for dessert or french fries, they haven’t been real cravings because I can live without them (and usually do).
Most pregnant women do have some types of cravings, but why?
- Research is inconclusive as to why pregnancy food cravings occur.
- Some believe that it’s your body telling you that you need a nutrient. For example if you are craving a burger, maybe your body needs iron or protein. However, studies have not proven this.
- Many professionals say it’s those pregnancy hormones once again that lead to the cravings.
When to be concerned?
- There’s a condition called Pica, which is a craving for non-food items (clay, dirt, paper, paint chips, raw flour, etc).
- If you are experiencing this make sure to talk to your doctor.
How to manage cravings:
- Allow yourself a little slack, and give in when you know absolutely nothing else will suffice. Just make sure to eat balanced meals in addition to your cravings so that you don’t replace healthy foods (ie fruits and vegetables) for junk food all the time!
- Keep your portions small. If you want ice cream, get it, but get the small!
- If you want a burger and fries, split it with someone and get a salad to start. Like I did here.
When you are craving something salty try:
- Pretzels (instead of chips) or pita chips with hummus
- Whole grain crackers or rice cakes with low fat cheese and sliced tomato
- Low fat popcorn
- 1 ounce of salted nuts
- Low fat tortilla chips dipped in salsa and/or guacamole
- Soy Crisps
- Lightly salted edamame
- Vegetables and low fat ranch dip
When you’re craving something sweet try:
- Fat free yogurt with 1/4 cup granola
- Kashi TLC Granola Bar
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruit (watch portions!)
- Frozen grapes or bananas (very refreshing in the summer!)
- Smoothie: skim milk, fat free yogurt, frozen fruit and flaxseed
- Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries: melt 1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips in the microwave and dip strawberries
- Fat free pudding
- Chocolate Milk or Hot Chocolate (made with skim milk)
- 1 Graham cracker sheet topped with low fat ricotta, a drizzle of honey and cinnamon
- Luna, Balance, Clif or Zone Bar
- Fat free or low fat frozen yogurt/ice cream (portion it out from the big containers!)
When it comes to actual meals: burgers, pizza, lasagna, etc. I say make your own! You can easily save a lot of calories and fat. If you’re too tired, not in the mood, or just don’t have the time watch your portions!
There are two main concerns with pregnant women giving into food cravings all the time. The first is that they may gain too much weight which isn’t healthy for mom or baby. And secondly is that the less healthy foods will replace healthy ones and the women might not get all the proper nutrients she needs.
Have you had intense pregnancy cravings?