Coping with Pregnancy Food Cravings

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coping with pregnancy cravings

Pregnancy cravings – true or myth?

How bad can they get? Is it true that once they strike, you just got to have it?!

When I was pregnant, that was the one thing that I was so curious to know for real.I am a mum of 2 - my toddler is 3 and my baby boy is 4 months old. FFirst time around, I was quite nauseated in my first trimester. I vomited most days and needed to eat AS SOON AS I opened my eyes. Eating small amounts helped with queasiness.

My cravings weren’t too weird - nothing like eating soap or soil, as I hear can happen.I found myself wanting mostly foods I eat normally, but just wanting them REALLY badly and NOW (e.g. baked beans on toast). I also remember being put off by… water! Strange, right? I just tasted metallic to me and I needed to force myself to dash out a big glass every now and then, as small sips seemed more dreadful (we lived in Singapore then and it was so hot and humid, so I was really conscious of being well hydrated. Juices are not my thing and there are only as much of herbal teas one can drink! :)During my second pregnancy, I didn’t have too many cravings. But, I remember feeling hungry a lot and often choosing carbs (bread, crackers, rice-based meals).

So, how to deal with cravings when the hunger strikes?

Here are my top tips on how to cope with cravings, so they do not control your nutrition during pregnancy:

  • Listen to what your body says – do you feel like eating breakfast or a thought of it makes you even sicker? I needed to keep a piece of peanut butter toast wrapped in a foil on my bedside table for the first trimester – otherwise, I’d be sick before even getting to the bathroom. Don’t eat when everyone else is eating or telling you so; learn to listen to your body and have breakfast when you get to work or have a big cooked meal as soon as you’re up - whatever makes you feel better.

  • Meal prep and think ahead – this one was important to me and it also started my love with exploring all the amazing food blogs out there! Cravings or not, one thing for sure: you got to be prepared when hunger knocks on your door. I recommend prepping your meals if you can do it (think: precutting some veggies, boiling rice, cooking once and eating 2-3 times etc.). That way a healthy tasty meal will be just a few minutes away. Also, pregnancy is sometimes all about snacking – we get hungry! So, get some healthy snacks ready – homemade granola bars, energy balls or healthier oatmeal cookies really worked for me. Stash them in the fridge, cupboard or handbag; otherwise, you will just demolish that bag of Nachos or tub of ice cream like there’s no tomorrow. (I'll be sharing my favorite pregnancy recipes soon!)

  • Think before you eat – i.e. understand the craving. Do you crave a burger or is it really just about those fries? Or maybe that mayonnaise? Try to stop and figure out your craving. Sometimes we only want a specific flavor or an ingredient and we can eat it with/as a healthier alternative. During my first pregnancy, I had a few weeks when I needed to have some Thai spring rolls, but after a while, I realized it was all about sweet chili sauce that came with it (so I started adding it to my sandwich or salad until the craving went away).

  • Stop thinking 'all or nothing' – just because we want ice cream or chocolate, it doesn’t mean we need to eat lots of it to curb the craving. I believe that you should allow yourself a treat every now and then, (especially pregnant!), and that constant denying can just make it worse. Have that cookie or ice cream, but don’t go too crazy – often mindfully eating a small scoop or a couple of cookies will do.

  • Drink. Plenty! –water and herbal teas are best drinks when we are pregnant. Before you give in to any cravings or endless snacking, drink a big glass, wait a bit and then check-in with yourself again. Often, we can be just dehydrated or hungry for a proper meal.

  • Cook at home – instead of having takeaways every second night or eating store-bought chocolate or cookies, try making them at home. There are plenty of beautiful, easy and nourishing recipes out there that will satisfy your cravings. Some of my favorite recipes for something sweet were by Livia’s Kitchen or for savory dishes like curries or burgers, by Minimalist Baker. 

  • Be kind to yourself – we are humans, so don’t beat yourself up if you give in and have a bad meal, bad day or eat ice cream every night for a week. Cravings can be a real pain to deal with and we often feel literally possessed by the desire to eat whatever we think we want at that moment (I know the feeling!). Don’t worry if you slip here and there, but I’d say, try to pay attention to any patterns and notice what your body is telling you.

    Have you had any interesting pregnancy cravings? How did you cope/ are coping with them? I’d love to hear from you!