All About Pregnancy Cravings And 8 Ways To Beat Them
Ladies, today I want to talk about a topic that many of you may have experienced or may have spoken about previously — pregnancy cravings.
Referring to that feeling of wanting a particular food or flavour as a ‘craving’ isn’t necessarily something I would do. Sometimes, the word cravings can be associated with ‘guilty pleasures’. I don’t want you to think about food negatively.
I want to encourage you to have a healthy relationship with eating and food, especially during pregnancy. So, keep reading to find out what pregnancy cravings can mean and how to manage them in a healthy way.
What are pregnancy cravings?
Just like any other type of craving — pregnancy cravings can feel like an urge to consume a particular food or drink.
One of the reasons why there is so much talk about pregnancy cravings is because there can be some very common pregnancy cravings and some that are thought of as weird!
Why do you get pregnancy cravings?
This might surprise you but while there are many theories, the exact cause of pregnancy cravings isn’t known.
Something we do know is that the changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can have an impact on a woman’s sense of taste and smell. That can explain why some people hate foods that they used to love! It may also be the reason pregnancy cravings may feel stronger than regular cravings.
If you are trying to stay fit during pregnancy and want to maintain healthy eating habits, pregnancy cravings can feel like an extra hurdle. Your body needs more energy to support the baby’s growth, so you may get cravings for energy-dense foods and it can be easy to accidentally overeat as a result. When you feel tired, you want something that will give you energy but sometimes that means reaching for a quick solution (like sweets or ice cream).
In addition to this, pregnancy is a time of multiple changes in your body and mood. Feeling tired, sick or rundown may set off emotional cravings too — so it can be common to want to eat foods that you normally reach for when you are not feeling good.
When do pregnancy cravings start?
Most women who get pregnancy cravings find that they start from the end of the first trimester and onwards.
Not every person gets cravings either — some may get them with one pregnancy but not another — so whether you have pregnancy cravings or not can be completely normal!
Weird pregnancy cravings
I’m sure we all have a friend who admits to having weird pregnancy cravings! For some people, it is combining foods that may not usually be eaten together — like ice cream and pickles.
In a small number of pregnancies, cravings may be for things that aren’t food, such as chalk, soap or sponges. This is known as Pica, something which should be discussed with your healthcare professional.
Common pregnancy cravings
Wanting to eat certain foods during pregnancy is not unusual — here are some of the common cravings:
- Spicy foods
- Ice cream
- High carbohydrate or ‘starchy’ foods (pasta, potato chips, pizza)
- Fruit and vegetables.
Cravings for salty or sour foods can be really common, especially if you are dealing with pregnancy-related nausea.
Ways you can beat pregnancy cravings
Whether you think you have common or weird pregnancy cravings, there are ways you can manage those feelings. Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Eat regular meals and snacks.
As I mentioned above, often you might want certain foods because your body needs energy. Eating regularly throughout the day can help to prevent you from getting really hungry — you can be less likely to overeat less healthy foods.
2. Choose high fibre foods
Eating foods high in fibre, such as fruit, vegetables, wholemeal bread and legumes can help to keep you fuller for longer. These foods not only give your body essential vitamins and minerals, but they can also help to sustain your energy levels.
3. Prepare healthy snacks in advance
Keeping some healthy snacks around you can make it easier to avoid snacking on less healthy food.
Make some quick, healthy snacks like bliss balls or nice cream if you feel like something sweet. If your pregnancy cravings are for salty foods, try having some air-popped popcorn, a handful of nuts or spread some nut butter on an apple.
4. Drink water
Often, feeling hungry can actually be because your body needs water. Staying hydrated is important throughout every stage of your life, including pregnancy.
Drinking water throughout the day can also help to reduce fatigue. You can even try some fruit-infused water, which is a great way to increase your fluid intake. You may want to limit how much water you are drinking before bed so that you aren’t getting up and down to the toilet throughout the night.
5. Get enough sleep
Trying to sleep well during pregnancy can be tough as you adjust to the changes in your body.
Sleep helps to regulate the body’s hormones, so lots of broken sleep can lead to an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that triggers your appetite. A lack of sleep can also increase levels of leptin, a hormone that helps to regulate energy, which can affect hunger levels. So, if leptin levels are higher, you may not feel as satisfied after you eat and begin reaching for snacks!
Having a regular bed time can help you get into a pattern so you get more sleep. This can help to minimise cravings that might be triggered by hormones.
6. Try not to shop when you are hungry
Grocery shopping on an empty stomach can make it hard to choose healthy ingredients — you may be lacking in energy and find yourself walking out with a trolley full of convenience foods.
A quick snack before shopping can help keep unhealthy impulse buys to a minimum.
7. Make healthy swaps
Following (or continuing to follow) a healthy lifestyle into pregnancy is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting plenty of nutrients to support the health of you and your baby.
Making some healthy food swaps (such as switching to a 70% dark chocolate) or learning how to satisfy a sweet tooth with healthier snacks can make a difference in how you feel.
8. Don’t deprive yourself
Sometimes you want to eat something specific and that’s okay!
Super strict diets and placing lots of restrictions on what you eat isn’t always maintainable. Denying yourself something that you really want can sometimes lead to a binge later on. So having a small portion of something you want, such as chocolate or ice cream, can be a part of a balanced approach to eating!
Managing pregnancy cravings
I hope this blog has helped you to think of pregnancy cravings a little bit differently.
Cravings may become a problem if they are replacing healthy eating habits — because you don’t want to be missing out on the nutrition you need, and nutrition is very important during pregnancy.
I’m curious, ladies — does anyone have any weird pregnancy cravings they want to share?
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.