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Pregnancy and Cravings

January 21, 2017

We have all heard the stories of crazy cravings during pregnancy. One woman wants pickles and peanut butter, the other ice cream and potato chips. Cravings are perfectly normal during pregnancy, but you also want to keep in mind that you are nourishing your growing baby.

I am currently eight months pregnant and people have commented that since I am a dietitian that I know what I should be feeding myself to properly nourish the baby. While that is true, I still have cravings! It can be difficult to avoid the foods you really want, and every now and then it is fine to give in. The main thing is not to overindulge all of the time and keep in mind that you do not need to eat for two. The American Pregnancy Association recommends about 300 extra calories during the second and third trimesters. You do not need any extra calories during the first trimester.  

I have found healthier alternatives for some of the foods that I have been craving. Most often, you can find a substitute that is more nutritious and will also save calories. If you are craving sweet foods, there are options to help curb your craving without breaking the calorie bank. First of all, think pre-portioned. There are frozen Greek yogurt bars which taste very similar to ice cream and run about 100 calories, plus you are getting some additional protein and probiotics from the yogurt. Look for popsicles made with real fruit or 100% fruit juice. In addition, you can make your own frozen sweet treats. Take ½ of a banana and dip in melted dark chocolate and freeze; you could also do the same with strawberries and pineapple. You can sprinkle some shredded unsweetened coconut or crushed peanuts on the chocolate for added texture. Other women I’ve talked to find that frozen grapes also help to satisfy a sweet craving.

Now, let’s talk about the salty snacks. It seems that everyone associates pickles with pregnancy cravings! I have enjoyed pickles and olives in my pregnancy (and before). However, I reach for low sodium olives and I limit myself to one kosher dill spear. The sodium content in pickles can add up quickly and contribute to swelling, so it is important to limit your intake!

As for crunchy snacks, air popped popcorn can be a great treat to munch on. Three cups equals about 100 calories. Add some parmesan cheese or try salt-free spices to add flavor to your popcorn. You can also find many pre-popped varieties that are typically 35 calories per cup. There are even flavors available such as salted caramel, so you get the combination salty and the sweet! If you like chickpeas, roasted crunchy chickpeas are a new snack craze that may help get you through the salty and crunchy craving. You can buy them pre-made or make your own at home.

Cocoa dusted almonds are one of my favorite snacks that combine both crunchy and sweet. They even come in 100 calorie packages which make portion control a cinch. Nuts and seeds provide heart healthy fats for you and your baby, but it is always necessary to portion them out. Snack sized plastic bags come in handy and you can make several portions ahead of time. 

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