One of the more well-known side effects of pregnancy is having strong food cravings that can hit without warning. The cravings you have can vary from time to time and make your diet seem like a mish-mash that doesn't really look healthy. Pregnancy food cravings can be strange sometimes -- think of the classic pickles and ice cream -- but many times they're for fairly normal foods. Unfortunately, many of these foods are also unhealthy and can make you gain weight quickly, something that isn't necessarily a good thing when you're already gaining pregnancy weight. But there are times when it's okay to give into a craving, if you handle the situation carefully.
When the Craving Itself Is Healthy
If you suddenly find yourself craving plain fruit salad, (properly) baked chicken breast, or other foods that would be considered healthy, there's no reason not to give in to the craving except to watch calorie intake and be sure you don't eat that one food while excluding all others. Constantly eating baked chicken breasts for each meal, with nothing else, is not healthy because you're not getting fiber, carbohydrates, or many vitamins and minerals that you need.
But if you want to add chopped chicken breast to your breakfast and have some chicken breast with a balanced lunch and dinner every day, you're not really ruining your health. You're just having a craving for a particular protein. If you can work the craving into your meals without eliminating the other healthy stuff, you should be okay.
When You Can Find a Healthier Substitute
If the craving isn't so healthy, though, then even eating it with healthy foods can be questionable if you're doing it all the time. If you crave full-fat ice cream all the time, having even a small portion with each meal and for snacks can send your daily fat intake soaring.
The solution here is to find a healthier substitute and try to eat that most of the time. Having a little full-fat ice cream daily isn't so bad if the rest of your diet is fine, of course. But to ensure you're not eating that ice cream all the time, look for variations like plain yogurt mixed with fresh strawberries and a little stevia. That could give you the creamy texture and sweet flavor you want without too much added fat and sugar. Cooking a thin burger that you then eat with grilled onions, pickles, and lots of tomatoes could provide enough flavor to take the edge off your double-cheeseburger craving. You'll have to experiment, but remember that spices and cooking methods (like grilling or roasting vegetables instead of microwaving them) can satisfy many of the flavor and texture cravings you have.
When Your Mind Can't Take It Anymore
There's something to be said for just giving in. If you are having strong cravings and still have them after going through all of the tips and tricks to not give in, like waiting a few hours, doing something distracting, and so on, it may be time to just try having the food.
If you are trying to avoid pizza because you know you will eat it all the time, yet after avoiding it and distracting yourself, you still want a slice, and your brain will not let you think of anything else, then you may have to just have a slice. Try to eat slowly, though, so your brain actually recognizes that you're eating the food you crave. Also try to schedule when you eat the food; knowing that, yes, you'll have that thick slice of cheese pizza on Friday evening at a certain time could help your brain back off a bit and let you concentrate on something else.
Of course, you still have to watch your intake. Still using the pizza example, eat one slice, not two or four. If you want more than one, schedule another day to have that slice so your brain knows it will get the food it craves eventually.
If you find yourself having a lot of trouble controlling your cravings, talk to your obstetrician again. He or she can help you go over your diet (or provide you with additional resources to help you) and pinpoint reasons why you might be having so much trouble combating those cravings.
For more information about your craving or other pregnancy concerns, contact an OBGYN clinic, such as Desert Rose OBGYN PC.