Most pregnant women can testify to experiencing cravings so strong, sometimes to the point of throwing up. According to one theory, pregnancy cravings are a way for your body to communicate its needs and deficiencies. For instance, a craving for red meat may mean you need more iron in your system, while a craving for chocolate could mean your body needs more magnesium. But this is not necessarily true. A more factual explanation for the existence of pregnancy cravings has to do with the increase of hormones in a pregnant woman’s body.
Hormones play a key role in your pregnancy. They regulate the many changes that happen in your body to ensure the healthy growth of your baby. However, they could also be behind many of the issues pregnant women usually face. An increase in estrogen, for example, may heighten a mommy-to-be’s sense of taste and smell. As a result, you may develop an affinity for food you never liked before, or suddenly feel an extreme aversion towards odors that never bothered you in the past. This could happen early on in your pregnancy, even before you realize that you’re already 1 month pregnant. The good news is, pregnancy cravings typically tone down after the first trimester.
A good action plan is to pinpoint what kind of taste you’re looking for. This way, you can choose smarter alternatives over less healthy options. Let’s say you suddenly feel like eating chocolate ice cream. It could be that you just want something cold and sweet. Why not eat a frozen yogurt instead? Or maybe it’s the taste of chocolate you’re after. Then you can try cereal drizzled with fat-free chocolate syrup. In other words, choose healthy subs that satisfy your cravings without sacrificing nutrition. Many of the food that pregnant women crave tend to contain empty calories. Overindulging could lead to nutrient deficiencies and unnecessary weight gain.
It’s okay to give in to pregnancy cravings from time to time, provided that you follow these considerations:
- You maintain a varied, well-balanced diet.
- You avoid too much sugary and fatty food.
- You gain only the appropriate amount of weight.
- You are not constantly snacking.
Here are a few good tips to control pregnancy cravings:
- Eat 3 balanced meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) plus 1 or 2 snacks in between (11am and/or 4pm).
- Consume starchy foods such as whole grain cereals, whole grain bread, and legumes. These provide extended energy and are easily digested at the same time.
- Save the dessert for snack time, especially if you are watching your weight.
Keep in mind that during pregnancy, any changes to your diet should first be consulted with your healthcare provider.
From the Nestle Global Archives co-written with RND KATE PERALES