How to control your pregnancy cravings

Nobody knows why pregnant women feel such strong cravings while expecting, but common sense says it has to do with the hormone changes we experience when carrying. These hormonal shifts heighten your sense of smell and taste. So when you get a craving, it feels so real that you need to satisfy it. Here are our best tips for controlling your cravings.  


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Unfortunately, these hormonal changes often cause us to feel nauseous, bloated, tired and cranky. So we look to food to comfort us. It's okay to indulge a little bit. A lot of the foods we crave when pregnant are rich in protein, calcium, and other nutrients. So even though these foods usually aren't the healthiest sources of those nutrients, they won't do us much harm.

But we can't be giving in to every craving. Eating too much junk food when pregnant puts us at risk of high blood pressure and many other scary conditions. Also, if we gain too much weight, it's going to take us much longer to bounce back after we have the baby. So you have to find ways to control those cravings and shut them down before they even get started.

Here are some tips that will help you do that:

1. Make sure to eat small meals every few hours. When you're eating regularly, you keep your blood sugar constant and avoid the drops that trigger food cravings. Eat five to six small satisfying meals throughout the day, spaced two to three hours apart.

2. Eat a balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Protein-rich foods are very satiating and keep you full for longer. Fruits and vegetables are packed with important vitamins and minerals. And whole grains contain lots of fiber, which keeps your digestion working correctly and helps stop cravings.

When you eat these healthy foods, you'll feel comfortable that you're giving your unborn baby the nutrition they need.  So if you need to indulge in a little junk food later, it isn't such a big deal.

3. Get regular physical activity (as long as your doctor approves). Even a simple walk is a great stress reliever. It helps to clear your mind and get you relaxed, so you won't heavily rely on "comfort foods."

4. Use portion control. You really want a chocolate bar? That's fine, but have the fun (smaller) size. Craving Doritos? Stick to the smaller bag. This helps to minimize the damage, while allowing you to still satisfy cravings.

5. Look for low-calorie alternatives. Instead of the high-fat ice cream, maybe you can fulfill that craving with some frozen yogurt. Sorbet, sherbet and frozen fruit bars are other delicious low-calorie frozen treats you can enjoy.

There you have it. By following these tips, you'll drastically cut down on the amount of cravings you feel when pregnant. And when those cravings come, you'll minimize the harmful effects, ensuring you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

This post was originally published on May 16, 2013.

Image via iStock

Topics: first pregnancy  health  cravings