What To Know About Pregnancy Cravings

Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. So, always make food choices that makes you feel good.

Divya R, Senior executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, Kanakapura Road

Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. So, always make food choices that makes you feel good. At the same time concentrating on the nutritional requirement is also equally important as “You are what you eat”. Moreover, understand that you will not have to cook fancy dishes or masterpieces, just a good food made of fresh ingredients is enough to alleviate the bad mood.

Especially during pregnancy, eating healthy and in right amounts can have wonderful effects on the growing foetus. Due to hormonal changes and majorly due to the depletion of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine, pregnant women experiences mood swings and depression. This makes an expecting mother to eat more or crave for eating more feel good foods which might lead to extra weight gain and other complications during pregnancy.

PICA is an unusual behaviour by a pregnant women wherein she feels like eating something peculiar. This is also called pregnancy cravings. The reason behind this unusual craving might be due to hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies or increased sense of smell and taste during pregnancy. Sometimes the pregnant women also craves for 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 signs of eating that particular substance

Pregnancy cravings can start as early as 4-5 weeks of the 1st trimester and is at its peak during the 2nd trimester, but it 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 feeling for 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 longer time.
  • Get good sleep as stress leads to hormonal imbalance.
  • Drink a lot of water.

Healthy swaps:

If you crave for Try eating this
Sweets/chocolates Fruits, dry fruits, dark chocolates
Chips Homemade khakra, unsalted popcorn
Sour cream or Ice cream Homemade yogurts with fresh fruits or sugar-free sorbet
Salt and salty foods Healthy herbs
Packed juices and soft drinks Fresh fruit juices [sugarless], Tender coconut water
Packed pickles Homemade low fat and low salt pickles
Tamarind Lemon
Coffee/Tea Herbal teas/ jeera water

Avoid:

Craving for non-food substances might lead to many complications like premature birth, spontaneous abortion and neurodevelopmental 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.

Strictly avoid:

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 sea foods
  • Certain kinds of fishes such as Shark, Swordfish, Tuna and Tile fish, 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 diet during pregnancy as it affects the baby’s brain development.
  • Tea, coffee, cigarettes, 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.
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