Pregnancy can be an amazing and unique experience for any woman, but it also comes with a lot of changes – including those to your diet. Most women will likely experience cravings during pregnancy, ranging from the mundane (like a sudden adoration for vegetable soup!) to the more extreme (cravings for non-food items).
Although indulging in these cravings every once in a while won’t hurt you or your baby if you want to make sure that you are still getting enough nutrients and making healthy choices overall, then having an understanding of pregnancy nutrition is key. In this post, we’re breaking down everything there is to know about food cravings during pregnancy – giving tips on how best to incorporate them into your diet while still following doctor’s guidelines. Keep reading below!
Understand the Role of Hormones in Food Cravings During Pregnancy
As any pregnant woman knows all too well, food cravings can be intense during pregnancy! But most people don’t realize what important role hormones play in these cravings. Thanks to an increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone during this time, pregnant women are bombarded with a range of intense urges and desires for certain foods – particularly for sugar or salt-rich snacks.
This “craving” phenomenon is usually strongest when a woman is around 12 weeks pregnant but can come and go throughout her pregnancy. While scientists are still researching how best to satisfy these cravings, it’s becoming more widely accepted that giving in to them (in moderation) won’t harm the developing baby.
Eat a Balanced, Nutritious Diet to Satisfy Your Cravings
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet isn’t just about the health benefits; it can also help you satisfy cravings. By packing your meals with nutrient-rich foods full of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, you can feel energized with every bite—and be less likely to give in to unhealthy snacks.
Having healthier versions of foods you crave on hand such as protein-packed chili instead of pizza or almond flour cookies instead of cake can make it easier to enjoy treats without overindulging. And making sure you’re meeting your daily need for vitamins and minerals reduces the chance that cravings are caused by nutritional deficiencies. Treat yourself—mindfully—to nourishing and delicious meals, so you can put those cravings to rest!
Identify and Avoid Unhealthy Cravings
Cravings can be difficult to resist, especially when we’re feeling down or stressed out. That’s why it’s important to identify if what you’re experiencing is an unhealthy craving and learn how to manage and avoid them. Unhealthy cravings tend to involve high-calorie foods that are full of sugar and fat.
These cravings should be avoided since they can lead to weight gain and other negative health outcomes. To beat unhealthy cravings, practice mindful eating, drink lots of water, take deep breaths when the urge arises, snack on healthy alternatives, and get plenty of sleep. Making these lifestyle changes can help you resist temptations so you can focus on making overall healthier choices.
Talk to Your Doctor or Midwife About Nutrition Tips
Taking care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy can be so overwhelming. Making sure you get all the nutrients you need and avoiding foods that may be harmful is especially important. That’s why it can be a huge asset to talk to your doctor or midwife about nutrition tips specific to your health conditions, lifestyle, and pregnancy.
They will be able to provide tailored advice about which fruits and vegetables to include for essential vitamins or how much fish you can eat for helpful Omega-3 fatty acids. If there are any special dietary needs such as lactose intolerance, they can also recommend the best alternative sources of nutrition that meet those needs. Keep in mind: having a balanced diet is key for your well-being and the health of your baby during this special time!
Design a Meal Plan with Healthy Alternatives to Commonly Craved Foods
If you’re trying to create a healthy meal plan but have found your cravings for junk food nearly impossible to ignore, the good news is healthier alternatives do exist! With a bit of creativity, it can be easy to design a meal plan that satisfies without sacrificing nutrition.
For instance, instead of a greasy slice of pizza try cutting up veggie-packed pita bread and topping it with tomato sauce, cheese, and vegetables. Don’t forget to add healthy snacks like low-fat yogurt, granola bars, and veggies with hummus as well! The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to creating tasty meals that are good for you.
Keep Track of What You’re Eating so You Can Monitor and Adjust as Needed
Track what you’re eating can be a great way to keep your diet on track and make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need. Whether it’s logging your meals, meal prepping, or using one of the many food-tracking apps available today, having an idea of what and how much you’re eating is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It’s also important to take stock of how often you are indulging in snacks or treats that may not provide enough nutritional value — doing so will help ensure that you adjust your intake as needed for better overall health down the road.
Eating right during pregnancy is not only important to provide your baby with the needed nutrition, but it also allows you to safely satisfy those cravings that come up. Taking the time to understand how hormones may make food cravings more intense can help you create a meal plan so that they are satisfied healthily. Be sure to speak to your doctor or midwife as soon as possible in order to ensure that you’re getting all of the proper nutrition advice for both yourself and your developing baby.
Once you develop a simple meal plan for yourself that has healthy alternatives for common cravings, stay consistent and keep track of what you’re eating daily so that if something doesn’t feel quite right or if feelings and habits change, adjustments can be made accordingly!