Managing food cravings during pregnancy

  • Food cravings are a normal part of pregnancy, most likely caused by hormonal changes
  • You should know when to speak to your doctor about non-food and bizarre food cravings.
  • Occasionally indulging in cravings is fine, but be mindful of the extra calories.

Food cravings can be a totally normal part of pregnancy. You may even crave bizarre combinations of foods, like pickles and ice cream! It’s fine to occasionally give into these cravings, but with some limitations.

What causes food cravings?

A lot of experts believe cravings are the result of hormone changes. The biggest shift in hormones happens during the first trimester, which is when cravings are most likely to kick in. These hormonal changes can also affect your sense of smell and taste. That’s why the smell of cooking food can either be a turn-off or cause a craving. 

Good to know

Your cravings might vary from day to day. Your favorite meal could sound yummy today and nauseate you tomorrow.

Some believe that food cravings are the body’s response to a lack of certain nutrients, but this is likely not the case. Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods and your prenatal supplement can help ensure your body is getting what it needs.

Striking a nutritional balance

Most pregnant women crave foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt. One of the biggest problems with giving in to too many food cravings is the extra calories that can quickly lead to extra pounds. Managing weight gain throughout your pregnancy is important, since excess weight can affect both you and your baby.
Balance the occasional indulgence in a food you crave with healthier alternatives.

 Food you
 Practical trade-off 
 Ice cream Low-fat frozen yogurt 
 Chocolate A few dark chocolate chips or low-fat chocolate pudding 
 Cheese Reduced fat cheese
Sirloin or tenderloin (look for "round" or "loin" in the name for lean options). 
 Chips Lightly salted popcorn, baked chips, or low-sodium pretzels 
Oven-crisped fries

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