Generally, the first trimester is when the majority of cravings occur, but it is not uncommon for those to last for the duration of the pregnancy. Finding ways to cope with overwhelming food cravings can be challenging for the mom-to-be. However, with some effort, a healthy nutritional balance can be achieved.
No matter how strong the desire is, pregnant mothers should steer clear of foods considered health risks for both the mothers and the developing babies. This include:
- Raw and undercooked seafood, meat and eggs
- Unpasteurised milk
- Unpasteurised juice
- Raw vegetable sprouts
- Herbal teas
Giving in too often to a mother’s desire for high-calorie foods may translate to too much weight gain. Excess weight gain increases the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure levels.
Here are a few suggestions on how to handle pregnancy cravings.
- Eat a balanced meal that includes proteins, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes.
- Eat regularly to avoid drops in blood sugar. This could trigger food cravings. Instead of eating three full meals, dividing up food into six small and satisfying meals helps.
- Exercise regularly as permitted by the doctor.
- Try taking your mind off food by going for a walk, calling a friend or reading.
- Try to focus on low-calorie foods.
Some women crave for non-food items, including ice, dirt, clay, a condition known as pica. Pica may signal iron deficiency. Expectant mothers may also get the urge to eat flour or cornstarch, which despite being food items, may not be a healthy option in large amounts. Too much can lead to blocked bowels. This can crowd out the nutrients the baby needs by causing the mother to feel full or bloated. Report to the doctor right away if she cannot resist these urges.
When the mother follows a healthy and balanced diet, a small portion of a not-so-healthy food will not harm the nutrition her baby needs.