Pregnancy cravings: Top 5 ways to beat them
From morning sickness and mood swings to food cravings, pregnancy can take a toll on your body and mind with its various side effects. And the drastic hormonal changes you go through during this phase are usually responsible for these. A pregnant woman can especially experience strong food cravings, which can impact her own health as well as her baby’s. Therefore, it is vital to understand the cause of these cravings and how to cope with them.
Cravings can be of different kinds
According to nutrition science, cravings for sweets, dairy foods, salty snacks or tangy items like pickles are common during pregnancy. However, skewed dietary intake or indulging in too many fatty, sugary, or salty snacks can result in excessive weight gain and even obesity. Although some amount of weight gain in pregnancy is essential, it should happen through healthy and natural foods.
Also, cravings for odd foods, which one has never eaten before or never liked eating, might show up during the first trimester. For example, some women might crave for paper, ice, paint, glass, metal or even hair. These unusual cravings might peak in the second trimester and gradually decline by the end of third trimester. In rare cases, some women crave odd foods post-delivery as well. According to doctors, craving foods high in salt, sugar, and dairy products might be an indication that you are deficient in iodine, fat, calcium, etc. Craving odd items can also happen due to certain mineral deficiencies.
Managing food cravings
It is very crucial for an expectant mother to understand her body and what she is actually craving. A good understanding of frequent food cravings can help in managing the cravings and maintaining portion sizes at every meal.
5 tips to manage food cravings during pregnancy
- Accept and understand that some cravings are your body’s way of telling you about nutrient deficiencies-
So, essentially, you need to understand why food cravings happen and why you shouldn’t ignore them. As mentioned, they might be your body's way of telling you that you lack a particular nutrient.
For example, if you are craving a double egg cheese omelette with toast and peanut butter, it might not seem healthy, but it might be a sign that your body is lacking protein. And hence, you shouldn’t shy away from it. Instead you should include this dish in your diet and just take care of the portion size. For instance, if you are craving 2tbsp of cheese, reduce it to 1 tbsp, and apply the same logic for peanut butter as well.
- Learn to add the deficit nutrients in a healthy way: Always go for home-cooked food and not outside food during pregnancy and consume nutrient-rich meals that are balanced. Whether you are lacking in proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals, relevant foods can be added to your diet in the right amounts. Try to boil, roast, grill and bake foods rather than frying them.
- Have small frequent meals throughout the day and practice eating slowly: Munch on nuts, yoghurt, fruits and vegetables throughout the day as snacks, so that you don’t face untimely hunger pangs. Eating small frequent meals will also keep nausea, vomiting and headache at bay.
- Include dietary supplements to meet the nutritional requirements: If you feel you are not getting enough nutrients from natural foods, consult your doctor about supplements. For instance, a multivitamin capsule every day might ensure a steady supply of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Be aware of good and bad foods: As mentioned before, women sometimes crave things like clay, mud, glass, etc. during the second and third trimester, and this condition is termed as PICA. Research shows that PICA is a condition which usually occurs due to lack of calcium and other minerals in your body. So, when you are craving things other than food, you must seek your doctor’s help immediately.
So, you now know that it is normal for pregnant women to experience extreme food cravings. These often happen due to some nutritional deficiency in the expectant mother. However, if these cravings are not managed properly, it can impact the mother and her baby. So, with the help of the above tips and tricks, women can overcome their cravings and have a healthy pregnancy.