Are you suddenly obsessed with a food that you previously hated? Are you constantly craving for sweet treats, salty snacks or some kind of odd combination of foods? Don’t fret. A lot of pregnant women experience food cravings, which begin in the first trimester, peak in the second trimester, and then gradually decrease. So, why does this happen and can these cravings be unhealthy for you and your baby? Let’s find out all there is to know on this important topic.
Q. Why do pregnant women get food cravings?
Ans. A vast majority of pregnant women experience food cravings. A food craving is basically a strong desire to eat a certain kind of food item. According to studies, food cravings in pregnant women can be caused by dietary deficiencies. An urge to eat certain foods could simply be your body’s way of responding to nutritional deficiencies. This can be countered by making sure your body is getting the essential nutrients. But that’s not the only reason. Some experts also say that these cravings are caused due to hormonal changes. Because of hormonal changes, pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell and taste, which is why certain foods can suddenly become repulsive to them while others can become appealing.
Q. Can pregnancy cravings have an impact on you or your baby?
Ans. It’s perfectly okay to give in to your pregnancy cravings, as long as you control your portions and ensure you have a balanced diet. However, eating too much junk food during your pregnancy can lead to excessive weight gain, which can also result in gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Ideally, pregnant women need only eat 300 extra calories a day in addition to their regular intake. So, while you can satisfy your food cravings, it’s important to pay attention to your weight as well for a healthy and easy pregnancy.
Q. How to deal with pregnancy cravings in a healthy manner?
Ans. Although it’s absolutely normal to have pregnancy cravings, if you crave for a lot of unhealthy food, here are some tips you can follow to try and decrease your cravings.
Eat a proper breakfast
Eating a wholesome breakfast canreduce your cravings to some extent and will keep you satiated for a while.
Satisfy your cravings by eating smaller portions
You don’t need to say no to your cravings. Simply curb your intake and pay attention to what you eat.
Substitute unhealthy foods with their healthy counterparts
If you feel like you’re constantly craving unhealthy food, simply substitute them with healthier options. For example: instead of regular chocolate and sweets, nibble on some dark chocolate or fill up with fruits like apples or bananas; substitute ice-cream with yoghurt; replace regular potato chips with homemade sweet potato chips.
Stock your pantry with healthy snack items
If you have healthy snack options within easy reach, it provides you with a healthier alternative the next time you get hunger pangs. Click here for some healthy snack ideas for you and your little one.
Regular exercise has been shown to suppress pregnancy cravings. It can also help lift your mood, reduce stress and help you feel great through your pregnancy. However, it is important to consult with your doctor regarding your exercise regime.
Q. Is it normal to crave non-food items?
Ans. Some pregnant women can experience cravings for non-food items such as chalk, clay, soap etc. This unusual craving is called ‘Pica’. Certain studies suggest that it is caused by a deficiency in iron. Although it happens to many women, do keep in mind that consuming non-food substances can be very harmful for you and your child. If you feel such cravings coming on, speak to your doctor so that he/she can address any nutritional deficiencies, if necessary.
Did you experience pregnancy cravings? Tell us what kind of foods you craved for during your pregnancy and how you dealt with it.