Pregnancy Cravings

by Jackie Hershwitz

apple or ?Pickles, ice cream and olives -- the Hollywood version of a pregnant woman's cravings. What she really wants though, might be something entirely different! Our recent survey discovered that:

  • Almost 35% wanted "something sweet"
  • 15% opted for salty snacks
  • 17% craved citrus fruits, green apples and other lip-puckering foods
  • 12% needed protein
  • 7% went for Mexican and spicy foods
  • 14% checked in with as wanting cough drops, avocado and constantly changing cravings

    Pregnancy.org moms shared their must-haves -- mashed potatoes and lemons, pickles or strawberries dipped in ranch dressing, and turkey sandwiches stuffed with barbecue chips. One mom loved green olives and strawberry ice cream. Seriously? If you're pregnant these treats can seem like heaven on a plate.

    Fun Pregnancy Craving Factoids

    1) Women are most likely to crave sweet foods during the second trimester.
    2) More moms-to-be say food cravings are part of their pregnancies compared to a decade ago.
    3) Only a scant 10% of pregnant women crave fruits and veggies during pregnancy.
    4) Chocolate is the number one pregnancy craving.

    Put Those Cravings to Good Use

    Nutritionists and researchers have tried to root out a reason women crave strange combinations of food during their pregnancies. While they've found very little concrete evidence, some point to your body's "alarm system" declaring the need for more calories, "raging hormones" kicking in, a specific nutrient deficiency, a learned behavior (like automatically going for those comfort foods to make you feel better) or as a response to stress.

    The bottom-line is that most experts agree you should definitely listen to your pregnancy cravings. Indulge your healthy ones and stay away from those cravings not offering much for you or your baby bean. A good rule of thumb is to, "step away from the cookie," and give yourself a few minutes to discover what your body is actually trying to tell you. What is your body saying to you?

    Sweet: Are you craving something sweet? We recommend a banana-chocolate smoothie.
    Meat: Do you need protein or you'll eat someone's arm soon? Try a big, juicy grilled Moroccan-style burger.
    Tart: Those SweetTarts™ calling your name? How about a spinach salad with green apple and dried cranberries? That should give you that "pucker."
    Salt: Is today a must-have salty snacks day? Bake your own. We suggest baking up a batch of chickpea or kale chips. Not liking that idea? Try sweet potatoes!
    Comfort food: Feeling a bit homesick? Our twice-baked potatoes might meet the comfort food requirement.

    No desire to gobble down peaches, blueberries, or broccoli? Before dismissing healthy foods in your attempt to appease the craving monster, try these emergency substitutions:

    CRAVING TRY INSTEAD
    ice cream frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, greek yogurt with fresh sliced fruit
    milk shake yogurt and fruit smoothie
    candy, sweets dried fruits like apricots, or fresh tropical fruits like mango or pineapple
    salty snacks popcorn sprinkled with herb blends, or sesame breadsticks with spicy mustard dip
    sour snacks lemon on salad, lemon on fish
    donuts, pastry whole grain mini bagel with fresh fruit jam
    sugar coated cereal oatmeal with a touch of honey or brown sugar

    Nurturing Your Body

    Choosing healthy substitutions isn't the only way to curb those cravings! Keeping on top of your physical and emotional health will make your cravings less, and less severe. Just a small amount of preventative maintenance can mean the difference between sending your partner out for a midnight ice cream sundae or settling for a midnight watermelon! Besides, spitting the seeds is fun!

    Pampering your pregnant self by giving into pregnancy cravings is certainly not forbidden! Balance and moderation can be your friends as well! Here are additional suggestions that can keep you tuned into your body's needs and aid your goal for a healthy baby and body:

    • Eat a balanced diet. Yes, mom was right. Seriously, finding the right balance for your body can stave off even the strongest cravings and leave your body feeling satisfied.
    • Jump-start your day -- with breakfast.. Eating regularly will help keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel. It also may give you a much needed break from morning sickness.
    • Get moving! Exercising, even a leisurely stroll around the block (or mall), distracts and eases stress! It also offers an additional benefit by increasing your stamina for the future (both during labor and delivery and later in keeping up with a oh-so-active ball of energy known as your child).
    • Grow your support group. Whether you reach out to your partner, your best female friend or your pals at Pregnancy.org, you may find that a group hug (or vent) will help you know you aren't all alone. Connecting with another mommy-to-be can help you challenge one another to make healthier selections, in turn giving you both positive results!
    • Listen and experiment. Don't limit yourself while trying alternatives. Cravings are mysterious at best, and what you think you're craving may be satiated by more than just the food you have on your mind. Don't be afraid to experiment with different alternatives. Listen to your body!
    • Still NEED that... When nothing else works, go for moderation. Have a fun-sized candy bar or a 100-calorie package of chips.

    "You don't have to say no each and every time," author Ann Douglas reminds us. "But be aware that if you say yes too often, you'll be left with some unwelcome souvenirs of your pregnancy on your hips and thighs. That should leave you with plenty of food for thought."

    What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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