Pregnancy Nutrition

Top Tips for Coping with Pregnancy Cravings

pregnancy cravings
Written by Stephanie McClane

Salsa from the jar?

An ice cream dinner? Pickles in processed cheese?

If you’re pregnant, you have probably had cravings like these.

Around 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women get a specific craving for food, a study shows. By the 13th week, 76 percent of women had craved at least one food.

Some common pregnancy cravings include spicy and sweet foods and foods rich in carbohydrates. Many women also get weird pregnancy cravings, including strange food combinations like ice cream and pickles.

While cravings are not unusual and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, overindulging can negatively impact your health, even when you are expecting.

In this piece, we’ll look at when pregnancy cravings begin and some tips to help you deal with them.

When do Cravings Start in Pregnancy

At some point in the first trimester, 50-90 percent of pregnant women get food cravings. These cravings last all through trimester one and two, and usually subside in the third trimester.

While the food cravings are quite intense during pregnancy, they typically go away after childbirth.

How to Control Pregnancy Cravings

Cravings aren’t necessarily bad things themselves. While you may be unable to prevent them completely, there are some things you can do to try to manage them.

Identify the Cause of Your Craving

A craving may be a sign that your body needs some vitamins and minerals.

A sudden urge for dairy products could indicate the need for more calcium. A craving for meats might signal the need for more protein.

Try to find the reason for your craving. If it’s due to some deficiency, fixing that deficiency will certainly help you beat the craving.

Don’t Deprive Yourself

It’s okay to indulge a bit in the food you’re craving. However, just ensure that you aren’t too hungry at that moment to avoid overeating.

Control Your Portions

If you want to eat a certain food badly and can’t substitute or replace it, don’t deny yourself. Go ahead and eat it, but only a small portion. Have it every now and then, even if you feel like eating it daily.

You can even set the frequency yourself, like once per week or so. Just ensure you don’t eat it daily. If you’re craving a chocolate bar, have a smaller bar. This will satisfy your urge and not affect your health.

Have a Balanced Diet

Always eat a healthy, balanced diet daily. The diet should be rich in vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and nuts which supply the required amounts of vital nutrients and fiber your body needs when you’re expecting.

You can have a small portion of the food you crave afterward. This won’t affect the developing fetus.

Eat Frequently

Don’t skip meals and avoid extended periods of hunger. If this occurs, your blood sugar goes down, which can make you crave food and overeat.

Instead of having three huge meals per day, aim for six smaller meals. You can also carry around healthy snacks to help you stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Make Smart Choices

Sometimes, addressing the root cause of your craving may help. Want something sweet? Take some fresh pineapple, instead of cookies.

Want something salty? Try some popcorn, rather than French fries.

Want something creamy? Avoid ice cream and have some yogurt filled with healthy fats instead.

Craving herb roasted chicken, mashed sweet potatoes and yummy sauteed spinach for dinner? Go ahead and have it.

Find Something to Distract You

When the craving strikes, distract yourself with something.

Get out of areas where you keep food, talk or chat over the phone with your mum or sibling. Watching a movie, reading a book, taking a walk outside and so on may also help to take your mind off food.

Seek Emotional Support

Pregnancy is amazing–but it’s characterized by a cyclone of emotions. With daily stresses and anxiety about becoming a parent, as well as fluctuating hormones, it might be emotionally draining sometimes.

To cope with these emotions, women tend to turn to food for comfort.

How do you feel when craving some food? Do you experience sadness, stress, or anxiety? Are you eating the food to forget about a worry or distract yourself?

If so, try finding other methods to manage your emotions. The following ideas might help:

  • Talk to your significant other about your anxieties. They aren’t experiencing pregnancy, but they probably share many of your concerns and can relate.
  • Read a book, take a bath or try anything else that relaxes you.
  • Start journaling. Some individuals find that writing about what they feel can help to lift mood.
  • Work out or have a stroll. Cardiovascular exercise is proven to boost endorphins and decrease stress hormones.
  • Watch a comedy film. A good chuckle may relieve your response to stress and aid relaxation.
  • Get into nature. A 2014 study shows that simply gazing at trees, no matter where you are can considerably help you deal with stress.
  • If your emotions overwhelm you, consider seeing a therapist.

Get More Sleep

Sleeping more during pregnancy is great because your body tires more easily–and it may also help you beat cravings.

Sleep deprivation can have an effect on your hormonal fluctuations. And if you didn’t know, your hormones may alter your appetite and cause cravings.

Even if you’re exhausted, it can be difficult to get a good night’s kip when you’re pregnant. If discomfort and pregnancy symptoms are making it difficult for you to sleep, talk to your doctor.

Beware of Some of the Weirdest Pregnancy Cravings

Again, many women do crave weird food when pregnant–ice cream with pickles, anyone?

But if you find that you’re craving non-food things, like ice, dirt, or soap, you might have a condition known as pica, so make sure to report it to your doctor.

Summing Up

Pregnancy cravings are pretty common and are normally nothing to fret about. But it’s vital to not yield to cravings too often–otherwise, you might end up with too much weight.

For more comprehensive information about all things pregnancy, make sure to take a tour of our blog.

About the author

Stephanie McClane

Hi, I’m Stephanie. I graduated college with a business degree and a minor in biology. I met my husband at a business convention and was happily marriage and pregnant within the first two years after saying the words “ I do”.

Jennifer is the eldest of the three. Being pregnant with her, my first, I researched everything pregnancy related and read nearly every book. Giving birth to Anthony and Matty seemed more natural and less stressful the third time around.

I’m happy to share what knowledge I have gathered and learn new things from other mothers. From morning sickness to Anencephaly, or potty training to thumb sucking, I have books and resource guides to share.