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Many women crave particular foods during pregnancy. And while some may pine for broccoli, bananas, or oatmeal, most probably have visions of cookies, chocolate, and ice cream dancing in their heads.
If your desire for sugar and fat feels too powerful to resist, it's okay to indulge occasionally. But try to keep your cravings in check, so your growing baby gets all the nutrients he needs. (If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes, follow the diet your provider recommended for you.)
Here are six ways to control your cravings without feeling deprived:
- Eat breakfast every day. If you start the day well nourished, you'll be less susceptible to midmorning snack cravings. One winning combination: a hard-cooked egg, an orange, half a whole grain English muffin, and a glass of milk.
- Exercise regularly. Staying active is an excellent way to curb hunger and distract yourself from cravings. Regular exercise – like a daily walk – is a great way to keep fit throughout pregnancy too.
- Outsmart that snack attack. Plan healthy snacks and have them ready to eat when hunger strikes. If you're suddenly starving with nothing in mind to eat, you might snack on things you don't need.
- Get emotional support. The hormonal roller coaster of pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to mood swings. You may turn to food when you might be better served by talking with a friend or taking a walk to ease stress or frustration.
- Train yourself to think small. Have a single scoop of ice cream rather than a whole bowl, or one square of chocolate instead of the entire bar.
- Substitute healthier stand-ins for your cravings. Look for ways to satisfy your craving and get the nutrients you and your baby need. Here are some ideas:
Ice cream: Low-fat frozen yogurt or reduced-sugar, low-fat ice cream, sherbet, or sorbet
Soda: Sparkling water with fruit juice or a squeeze of lime
Pizza: Use whole wheat pitas for crust (or try recipes for whole grain pizza crusts made from brown rice and flaxseed) and top with roasted vegetables, tomato slices or marinara, and a little grated parmesan
Doughnut or pastry: Whole grain cinnamon raisin toast or half a small whole grain bagel with strawberry cream cheese spread
Slice of cake: Low-fat banana nut or zucchini bread, or angel food cake topped with strawberries
Sweetened, low-fiber cereals: Whole grain cereal or oatmeal topped with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, raisins, or cranberries
Potato chips: Baked potato or tortilla chips, popcorn (plain or sprinkled with seasoning), or pretzels. Split whole wheat pitas and cut into triangles, spread lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs or spices, then bake. Make kale chips, crispy chickpeas, or roasted broccoli and cauliflower nuggets.
Sour cream: Low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
Hamburger: Grilled portobello burger on a whole wheat bun with barbecue sauce and a slice of provolone
Fried chicken: Baked chicken coated with crunchy panko crumbs or crushed pretzels
French fries: Baked sweet potato or carrot "fries"
Sundae toppings: Berries, sliced bananas, or crushed pineapple in juice, topped with a sprinkle of coconut or chopped nuts
Canned fruit in sugar syrup: Fresh fruit or unsweetened canned or frozen fruit
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