Pickles on ice cream, chocolate on pasta, hot sauce on biscuits, are you suddenly wanting food combinations you’d never EVER want to eat if you weren’t pregnant? Then you’ve got pregnancy cravings.
These cravings are intense desires to eat specific foods that feel almost impossible to resist, and it can happen whether or not you’re hungry. While these cravings might appear in the first trimester, the second trimester of your pregnancy is usually the most common time for unusual food cravings.
Food cravings can range from sweets, chocolate, and desserts to starchy carbs and fast foods. It can also be healthier foods like fruit and vegetables, but it’s important to find a healthy balance. Eating too much junk food can add to extra weight gain, which can become a risk for the baby.
Joy of Life® has put together this blog to give you 7 healthy tips on how to deal with unhealthy cravings during your pregnancy.
How to Handle Pregnancy Cravings
Not all pregnant women are lucky enough to crave healthy foods, you might be dreaming of a greasy pizza, or a sugary treat right now. Whatever your cravings, it’s vital to make the baby’s health a priority.
Eating a balanced diet will ensure that you and the baby are getting all the nutrients needed. So yes, while this does mean you can eat burgers, it also means you should eat enough nutritious food too to get enough vitamins and minerals.
Eat Before You Shop
An easy mistake to make, but not eating before you go grocery shopping is a dangerous game to play, whether or not you’re pregnant. Hungrily eyeing up all the sweet treats and savory snacks on the shelves while doing the weekly shop makes it so much harder to resist the urge to buy junk food.
Your shopping list and willpower might go right out of the window if your cravings get the better of you, so shopping on a full stomach will at least prevent any hunger pangs from taking over. Follow your shopping list and avoid walking down the junk food aisles to stop yourself from buying unhealthy food that won’t benefit you or the baby.
Fill Your Kitchen With Healthy Snacks
Don’t fight your cravings for snacks, if you’re hungry, then you should eat. The key to this, though, is replacing junk food with healthy alternatives to deal with those unhealthy food cravings.
While you’re out doing your weekly grocery shop (on a full stomach!) stock up on tasty healthy treats like granola bars, a variety of nuts, delicious fruits, and smoothies instead of soda. Finding healthy alternatives that taste similar to their unhealthy counterparts will help satisfy your cravings without compromising on nutrients. This could even be buying baked chips instead of fried, or yogurt instead of ice cream.
Eat Enough Proteins
To make sure the baby is growing and developing properly, eating proteins will help nurture the cell growth for the tissues and organs. Protein increases your blood supply so that the baby will receive more blood. Not only does it have beneficial nutrient properties, but it can also help control cravings.
Start your day with a protein-filled breakfast to help reduce hunger and cravings throughout the day. Mix it up each day to keep it interesting, whether it’s a smoothie bowl with nut butter, eggs and avocado on toast, oatmeal with your favorite fruit, or yogurt topped with granola.
Eating more protein with each trimester of pregnancy is important, so plating up the protein with each meal will help towards this. You can find a vast array of foods that are rich in protein, but some good sources include nuts, beans, peanut butter, lentils, chicken, and salmon.
Eat Smaller Portions More Frequently
Cravings are often caused by hunger, and if you’re hungry often, then eat often. Don’t focus on three big meals a day, instead, split this into 5 or 6 small meals, eating smaller portions but more frequently to sustain yourself.
For women with sensitive stomachs, this can also help while satiating you for longer. Throughout the day, make sure you are eating a balance of foods around every four hours, to help keep you energized. Avoiding meals or not getting enough of a particularly nutritious food source can actually be more harmful in the long run, as the food cravings intensify.
Eating in moderation will help curb cravings. Don’t restrict yourself from eating the occasional junk food, just eat a small amount alongside healthier and more nutritious food to make it easier to control the cravings.
Assess Your Hunger Levels
If you feel yourself craving something naughty, stop for a moment and consider how hungry you are. Think about when you last ate, what you ate, and what your hunger feels like. In some cases, you might actually just be thinking about food due to boredom, or if you’re experiencing increased stress levels.
You shouldn’t ignore hunger pangs but satiate them instead with small nourishing meals or healthy snacks.
Do Some Gentle Exercise
Who knew exercise could help with cravings? Going for a run, taking a stroll through the park, practicing yoga, going for a swim, whatever your favorite way to exercise is, movement can help with cravings in many ways.
Not only does exercise boost your mood, which if you’re feeling stressed or bored can lead to bad eating habits, but it also helps you feel good about your ever-changing pregnancy body while distracting yourself from those tempting cravings. There has even been some research to suggest that running could be connected to a reduction in cravings.
Of course, one of the more obvious parts of exercising is to keep fit. Keeping your weight at a healthy level will influence the baby’s growth while helping you prepare for labor. Sometimes pregnancy can have stressful moments, which isn’t good for you or the baby, and exercise has the ability to reduce stress.
Give Into the Cravings Sometimes
Stopping yourself from eating can be just as harmful as eating too much. The feeling of guilt won’t make your mind or body feel good, so if you want a scoop of ice cream, eat that ice cream. Eating in moderation just means eating one scoop, rather than the whole tub.
Ignoring a craving can make things worse. It will make you want it,even more, so denying yourself makes the whole situation even harder to control. Yes, eat the food you’ve been dreaming about all day, but slow down and eat it thoughtfully and gratefully. Eating this way will prevent your eating habit and cravings from spiraling out of control, and will help from overeating too.
Learning how to control your unhealthy cravings can feel a little tricky at first, tempted by your cravings however weird and wonderful they might be. Like our normal diets, we should eat in moderation, a balance of the good and the naughty. If you’d like to learn more about cravings during pregnancy or need help keeping your cravings under control, contact us today and speak to our friendly team here at Joy of Life®.