We’ve all been there, it’s that time of the month and you want something salty or chocolaty or
both and you are rummaging through the back of your pantry to find that package of Oreos you hid from yourself after your last period. Now you are pregnant, which means no more periods and no more crazy period related cravings, right? Not quite. Actually quite the opposite. Pregnancy too leads to cravings, but not the typical cravings you are use to. Whether it is pickles and ice cream or chocolate and french fries, pregnancy can cause you to desire wild combinations of foods! Seems odd right, well it is. But when you are pregnant, these odd food combinations can seem like the most amazing thing you’ve ever eaten. Cravings are perfectly healthy and normal, but can be a bit risky if what you crave is unhealthy or if you over indulge in these foods.
I know what you are thinking, I have already given up alcohol, and my five cups of coffee, sushi, and cheese, now you are telling me I have to regulate myself while I have these insanely intense food cravings. It’s unfair, but important for you to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Here are some tricks for you to satisfy those crazy cravings but also minimize the negative impact they may have.
Incorporate foods you crave in small amounts to healthy meals you are already eating.
Instead of a serving spoon worth of peanut butter, think peanut butter on toast or celery. Instead of a handful of olives, add a few olives to your lunch salad.
Find healthier alternatives to the junk foods you crave.
Think Snickers bar = fruit and nut bar
Don’t buy the supersize!
When a craving hits, only buy enough to satisfy that craving and don’t leave excess at arm’s reach. We typical eat what’s in front of us. If your craving monster sends you to Costco to buy the year supply of Cheez-Its, you’ll likely eat more than if you bought a single serving bag.
Do anything else!
Cravings don’t typically last that long, so distracting yourself will help you overcome some of your more extreme cravings. Try putting on your favorite song and dancing during it. When it’s done, bet your craving has lessened.
Food cravings are different for all women and are hard to predict or explain why you crave what you crave. Cravings are sometimes related to what your body and baby needs. If you need more calcium, you may experience cravings for ice cream. If you need more sodium, you may crave pickles. If you need Iron, maybe you start Jonesing for a steak. Isn’t the body amazing, but also super annoying and confusing. Sometimes cravings have nothing to do with what your body needs and are just another side-effect of being pregnant! It is important to stay aware of your cravings and if they start becoming strange. I’m not talking hot sauce on icecream strange. More like developing cravings for non-food items such as ice, toothpaste, soap, baking soda, coffee grounds, and even dirt. This condition is called PICA and should be brought to the attention of your OBGYN. PICA is rare and the exact cause isn’t known, but can be dangerous for your health and the health of your baby.
Pica: Causes, Common Cravings and Risks During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association (2012). Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/unusual-cravings-pica/. (Accessed: 16th November 2017)
Cravings during pregnancy. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/cravings-during-pregnancy.aspx. (Accessed: 16th November 2017)
How long does a typical food craving last? Less than you might think | MLive.com. Available at: http://www.mlive.com/health/index.ssf/2012/01/how_long_does_a_typical_food_c.html. (Accessed: 16th November 2017)
Pregnancy Cravings: When You Gotta Have It! Available at: https://www.webmd.com/baby/features/pregnancy-food-cravings#1. (Accessed: 16th November 2017)
iOrloff, N. C. & Hormes, J. M. Pickles and ice cream! Food cravings in pregnancy: hypotheses, preliminary evidence, and directions for future research. Front Psychol 5, (2014).