Pickles and ice cream? Peanut butter or oranges? The food women crave during pregnancy can make for funny stories or frustrated husbands. Today I was craving oreos. At 17 weeks I’m past my super-nauseaus stage and am ready to eat almost anything, but oreos have been stuck on my mind for 4 days now. The problem is that oreos contain hydrogenated oils, otherwise known as trans fat, which no person, especially children and pregnant women, should include in their diet. The package says 0g trans fat, but that just means that there is less than 0.5g per serving – many process foods including peanut butter and hot chocolate mixes pull this trick. Knowing my pregnant self I would eat more than one serving anyway, and that rules out buying oreos for me. What to do with pregnancy cravings? Here’s some tips that have helped me, and hopefully they will be useful to you as well. But first, why do we have such strong cravings? Science has yet to definitively answer this one, but most believe that it has a lot to do with the hormonal changes (go figure). However, cravings can also be caused by nutrient deficiencies, especially with iron. Cravings can also come from low blood sugar, especially if you are “crashing” after having a high-sugar snack or meal. Lastly, cravings can also be emotional…always do a heart check to make sure you are eating for your stomach and not for boredom, sadness, or stress.
1) Is it a nutrient-dense food? Then just give in! If you are craving milk or fruit, go ahead and have a serving, then wait an hour and if you crave more enjoy another serving.
2) Is it a “treat” food like cookies or ice cream? Check the label to make sure there’s no preservatives or other ingredients to be avoided and then enjoy a small serving…you can always have a another serving tomorrow if you are still craving it then. I’m a chocoholic when not pregnant, and have been thoroughly enjoying my milk chocolate and chocolate milk on a regular basis. Just make sure to sit down and focus on enjoying your treat – if you gulp it down while running errands or chasing a toddler you’ll just get stuck with the calories, and miss out on the pleasure.
3) Is it something on the “do not eat list?” Then it’s time to substitute or wait it out. I chose to make chocolate oatmeal cookies…one of my personal faves. It didn’t totally cure the craving, but I’ll just stay out of the grocery store for a few more days and I’m sure it will pass.
4) Control those cravings by making sure you are eating small, frequent meals and snacks that have protein and fiber. The better your diet, the less likely you’ll have deficiency-induced cravings and the more likely you’ll have a healthy pregnancy.
5) Sip on water with a slice of lemon or lime. Dehydration can also make you crave food for some unknown reason, and it can be tough to meet your expanding fluid needs as your baby and belly grow.