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Pregnancy cravings out of control? Here’s what you MUST know to contain them

Published on:6 September 2021, 10:53am IST
Some women experience uncontrollable pregnancy cravings. But here’s what you need to know in order to keep them in check!
Divya R
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pregnancy cravings
Watch what you eat when you're pregnant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Every meal you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. That’s exactly why we must always make food choices that uplift us, especially when it comes to satiating your pregnancy cravings. Concentrating on the nutritional aspect is also important. It is often said that ‘you are what you eat’, and it holds true in every way. Eating well is not about cooking fancy dishes or masterpieces. It is all about eating food that is made from the freshest of ingredients. 

During pregnancy, eating healthy and in the right amount, can benefit the growing foetus. Due to hormonal changes and depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, pregnant women experience mood swings and depression. This makes an expectant mother eat more or crave for more feel-good foods, which might lead to weight gain and other complications during pregnancy. 

pregnancy cravings
Handle your food cravings during pregnancy with care. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

PICA is an unusual behaviour by a pregnant woman, wherein she feels like eating something peculiar; these are also called pregnancy cravings. The reason behind these unusual cravings might be due to hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies or increased sense of smell and taste during pregnancy. Sometimes, pregnant women also crave non-food substances like ice chips, dirt, laundry soap, starch, clay, cigarette ashes, chalk, antacids, paint chips, plaster, wax, and other substances. These can be very harmful due to toxicity or blockage concerns. So, they should be informed of the dangers of eating that particular substance.

Pregnancy cravings can start as early as 4-5 weeks of the 1st trimester, and reach their peak during the second trimester. Nonetheless, they can occur anytime during pregnancy. So, this sudden change in the maternal food habits during pregnancy should be monitored well, as this will have a greater impact on her health and also on her child’s growth and development. 

Healthy eating tips
  • Small frequent meals to avoid sudden feelings of hungriness.
  • Ensure your kitchen store has healthy snacks. 
  • Do not eat, according to mood.
  • Always prefer low calorie, fibre dense and snacks to keep you full for a longer time. 
  • Get good sleep, as stress leads to hormonal imbalance. 
  • Drink a lot of water. 

Also Read: 7 dangerous mistakes you MUST avoid in the first trimester of pregnancy

pregnancy cravings
Eating healthy leads to a healthier pregnancy! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
You could also go for healthy swaps:
  • If you have the urge to eat sweets and chocolates, try eating fruits, dry fruits, and dark chocolate; 
  • Ditch chips and nosh on homemade khakra and unsalted popcorn; 
  • Do away with sour cream or ice-cream, and indulge in homemade yoghurts with fresh fruits or sugar-free sorbet; 
  • Swap salt and salty foods with healthy herbs; 
  • Say no to packed juices and soft drinks, and go for fresh fruit juices and tender coconut water; 
  • Try homemade low-fat and low-salt pickles, instead of store-bought salted pickles; 
  • Use lemon instead of tamarind; 
  • Drink herbal teas/jeera water, instead of coffee/tea.
Here’s what you must avoid:

Craving non-food substances might lead to many complications like premature birth, spontaneous abortion and neuro-developmental deficits in the growing fetus. The harmful effects of these substances are sometimes very lethal. Hence, pregnant women need to be educated about the cravings and its effects on both mother and the fetus.

Also Read: 4 simple lifestyle habits to help you keep those pregnancy cravings at bay

pregnancy cravings
Alcohol is a no-no! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
And these are a BIG no-no:

Soap, paper, clay, paint chips, chalk, powder, ash, hair, metals, glue, pebbles, dirt etc. 

 

  • Undercooked or raw eggs or foods likely to be made with them, including home-made mousses, ice cream and mayonnaise etc. 
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish. eg. shellfish such as oyster, lobster, prawns and seafood 
  • Certain kinds of fish such as shark, swordfish, tuna and tile fish, as well as king mackerel during pregnancy, as they have high levels of methylmercury.
  • Unpasteurized milk or yoghurt/ curd made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Avoid eating raw vegetables, fruits, juices, etc. when eating outside, since there is no assurance for quality.
  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited from your diet during pregnancy, as it affects the baby’s brain development.
  • Tea, coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol inhibit the absorption of iron. So, it is best to avoid them [at least followed by meals] and instead have herbal tea, fresh fruit/vegetable juices and water.

 

Divya R Divya R

By Divya R, Senior Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru