Food cravings and aversions are common side-effects of pregnancy, usually emerging during the first trimester (particularly morning sickness), can continue or peak through the second trimester and then typically recede around month five or six.
While pregnancy cravings and aversions are largely medical mysteries, likely culprits are pregnancy hormone fluctuations, which heighten the sense of smell, as well as the physical discomforts associated with pregnancy that make women turn towards favorite “comfort foods.” Whichever the case may be, the most important things to remember are:
- The goal is to get sufficient protein and nutrients into your body to grow a healthy baby.
- Pregnancy cravings are typically fine, as long as you’re craving edible foods and keep pregnancy weight gain in check.
- Stressing out about food cravings and aversions isn’t good for you and baby – a sensible conversation with your doctor and/or midwife will put your fears to rest.
Think in Terms of Moderation When Battling Food Cravings
If you’re craving carrot sticks, celery and hummus – there’s nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the most commonly craved pregnancy foods are sweets and other high-calorie, no-substance carbs. For example, most women crave things like candy, pizza, chips, chocolate, ice cream, etc.
If your cravings all fall within the “not so good for you category,” try to keep things within a rational, healthy balance.
Think smaller portions
If you have a craving for chocolate, buy high-quality darker chocolate (lower in fat and calories/higher in anti-oxidants) and eat a small portion, rather than a king-sized bar. If you crave ice cream, see if frozen yogurt or a healthier ice cream substitute will satisfy the craving; if not, keep yourself limited to a single portion as a treat in the afternoon or at the end of the day.
Go ahead and indulge, but do so with respect to your daily calorie intake and healthy pregnancy weight goals.
Make sure you’re getting what you need
Your OB should provide you with essential pregnancy nutrition guidelines to follow. Contrary to popular believe, pregnant women should only consume about 300-450 extra calories per day (sorry, you’re not eating for two after all…). Make your daily calorie intake count by eating foods you and baby need first, then treat yourself to a couple hundred calories’ worth of pregnancy cravings.
Make sure its edible
Sometimes, pregnancy women crave (and consume) things that aren’t edible – dirt, clay, laundry detergent, burnt matches or charcoal, etc. This condition is called pregnancy-related pica. Report these cravings to your doctor who will verify you’re getting enough iron and other nutrients.
Is Morning Sickness Preventing Your From Getting the Nutrients You Need?
There are rare cases where severe morning sickness needs to be treated by professionals. In most cases, however, you and baby will be fine. For many women, the key to powering through morning (or anytime!) sickness is to:
- Eat smaller snacks so your tummy is never empty
- Suck on sour and/or ginger candy, sniff lemons and/or eat watermelon to take the edge off
- Keep soda crackers and water or tea on the nightstand so you can nibble and sip in the middle of the night and upon waking up
- Drink small amounts of fluid throughout the day (but not necessarily with meals) to avoid hydration
- Play with a few morning sickness smoothie recipes for nutrient-laden sipping
The good news is that of the 50% of pregnant women who experience morning sickness, the large majority feel notably better after the first six-weeks.
Concerned about your pregnancy cravings and/or aversions? Schedule a consultation with the compassionate OBs here at Overlake.