How to eat well during pregnancy
25 Jul 2017
blackmores naturopath


How to eat well during pregnancy (even when you're craving burgers & ice-cream)

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Find the healthier alternative to that must-eat-now food that you’re craving during pregnancy.

Ahh – the dreaded pregnancy food cravings!

We’ve all heard the weird and wonderful combination cravings like pickles and ice-cream, the classics like cheese burgers and potato chips and others discovered in the writing of this piece including mashed potatoes with caramel sauce and buttered watermelon.

Some women will crave foods they wouldn’t normally eat, others non-food items (like chalk & dirt). Then there’s the ‘I must have this {insert food} right now!’ type of cravings.

Around 50 to 90% pregnant women experience cravings for at least one particular food during their pregnancy. Cravings often vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, and sometimes from day to day in the same pregnancy.

The cause of pregnancy cravings is not yet fully understood, but some believe that it may be linked to the hormonal changes occurring in the mother’s body. Others believe that it may be a type of protective mechanism for Mum & bub – that you crave what your body needs, and develop an aversion to those that are not good for you.

When it comes to pregnancy cravings - some of those crazy (and not so crazy) cravings may not be an indication that your body needs the specific food you are craving - but it may need a nutrient that is in that food (for example – there’s probably not too many women that physically ‘need’ cheeseburgers to survive during pregnancy – but they may need more protein – and their body is interpreting that into a Cheeseburger craving).

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What to do about your cravings will depend on what type of cravings you’re having.

If you are craving relatively healthy foods – go for it- albeit in moderation. Just ensure that you don’t let the foods you’re craving become the only thing you eat, or prevent you from eating a wide and varied diet.

If you find that you are craving foods that are high in fats and sugars, and lacking in nutrients (think potato chips, ice-cream, donuts, chocolate biscuits, etc) try to be strong, and only give in occasionally. The problem with these sorts of cravings is that if you give in to them often enough – that baby bump is likely to turn into a baby blimp – which presents a whole host of other problems.

The best idea in this case is to try and find a healthier alternative. Maybe try a frozen organic yoghurt instead of ice-cream, or home-made carrot or zucchini bread instead of that piece of chocolate cake – have a look at a few other healthy substitution ideas here.

If you find that you are craving non-food items like dirt, chalk and ice you may be suffering from a condition known as Pica which may be a sign that you are deficient in certain nutrients. Avoid eating those non-edibles that look so tempting, and go see your GP for some blood tests.