Food Cravings and Pregnancy

Though there is no agreed-upon explanation for them, food cravings are extremely common during pregnancy. There will be foods you can’t seem to stomach, and there will be foods you just can’t get enough of. Some experts blame raging hormones.

Just as some women crave certain foods during their menstrual cycle due to hormones, the same thing happens during pregnancy. Some believe that in an opposite case from food aversions, the body’s craving of a certain food signals a need for some nutrient or nutrients.

Alternately, some scientists believe that cravings are the way the body takes care of getting its extra calories. Some of the most commonly craved foods for pregnant women include citrus fruits, chips, dairy products, spicy foods, ice cream, chocolate, and other sweet foods. In fact, women tend to crave sweet foods more during their second trimester than at any other time in their pregnancy. One thing is undeniable: A woman’s taste preferences do change throughout her pregnancy.

What does it Mean

Your food cravings may not necessarily be a problem or cause imbalances in your diet if you seem to be craving healthier foods, like fruit or milk. But what do you do when you are craving that hot fudge sundae? If high calorie, high-sugar and/or high-fat foods are what you crave, you will have to exercise mind over matter on occasion.

Giving in to cravings every time especially if they are frequent and you are craving high-calorie foods, is a good way to pack on more pounds than you intended. In addition, if you seem to be craving and eating a lot of one certain food and not eating much of anything else, you may become deficient in important nutrients over time.

Do your best to fit your cravings into a nutritionally balanced diet. As long as you are eating a balanced diet and getting the essential nutrients you need for you and your baby, giving in to your cravings once in a while is probably fine. The bottom line is that indulging in your food cravings in moderation is harmless. You may find that your food cravings get less intense as your progress through your pregnancy.

Tips for Coping with Cravings

Try some of these helpful hints to work cravings into your balanced diet:

    1. Eat a good, healthy breakfast. Skipping meals such as breakfast can increase the cravings for certain foods later in the day.

    2. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat breads, brown rice, whole-grain cereals, and pasta. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and therefore help to keep blood sugar levels consistent. Dips in blood sugar can cause cravings.

    3. Work the foods you crave into a nutritional diet. If you crave chocolate, try chocolate milk. If you crave ice cream, add sliced fruit such as bananas or strawberries your ice cream and give it a nutritional punch.

    4. Take a closer look at your total diet. Keep a food diary for a week or so – and review it to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting the nutrients that you need.

    5. Indulge in your healthy cravings and try to find healthier alternatives to your unhealthy ones most of the time. For example, substitute nonfat frozen yogurt if you crave ice cream or pretzels if you crave chips.