The rollercoaster of hormones, emotions, and energy levels are just a natural part of pregnancy, but food and cravings also play a significant role in the daily routine. Even though the urge to eat a particular type food can signal a nutrition deficiency, portion control is key to avoiding weight gain during pregnancy. Many pregnant women create strange combinations of snacks and meals to battle their ravings for sweet, salty, bitter, or spicy foods, and intense cravings are known to strike at the oddest hours.
Pregnant women naturally need an increase in calories, and usually have a strong preference for a particular food group. Falling in love with the extremes is quite common; pregnant women can suddenly have a strong aversion to bitter taste while savoring anything and everything sweet. Some women prefer sour and salty foods, and can be found raiding the cupboards for high-sodium fare. Pickles, potato chips, and salsa are common cravings. In most cases, the craving subsides after a few weeks, often turning to a new one instead. Here are eight of the most common pregnancy cravings:
1. Pickles and olives: the high sodium content of these snacks could be the reason why these are commonly called upon during the first or second trimester. Pickles and olives naturally have a high level of salt and water, but excessive snacking on these can trigger a bloating episode. Balancing out these high-sodium foods with plenty of water is the best option.
2. Cheese: not necessarily a bad craving, and it may simply indicate that the diet needs more calcium. Calcium can be found in healthy alternatives including broccoli, green vegetables, or even in supplement form.
3. Peanut butter: this can be a signal for a B-vitamin deficiency, and can be managed with a supplement or an increase in fish oil. Peanut butter has a very high fat content, and overeating will lead to rapid weight gain.
4. Chocolate: a natural ‘feel good’ food, chocolate is also rich in magnesium and iron. Milk chocolate won’t help reduce the craving, so it’s best to reach for the dark stuff when possible. The number of cravings might also be reduced by eating wholesome food such as oatmeal, beans, and nuts on a regular basis.
5. Eggs: omelets and scrambled eggs seem to be a popular craving for many pregnant women, and could be a signal of protein deficiency. Eggs also contain essential amino acids which can be included in the diet with oily fish or dried beans.
6. Apples: one of the healthiest cravings, apples are rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Too many, however, may lead to rocketing blood sugar levels so one or two with some peanut butter can help balance out the snack.
7. Fried bacon: the need for both protein and fat can trigger this craving, and it’s often accompanied with a craving for eggs and cheese; thus the need for an all-star breakfast at 3 a.m. Increasing protein and eating healthy fats at other meals might reduce this intense craving.
Having healthful snacks readily available and eating on a schedule can prevent craving attacks from occurring. Still, it’s okay to indulge once in a while to reduce the craving itself; in most cases, the urge to overeat subsides in a few weeks!