How To Deal With Cravings During Pregnancy

Editorial Team

About 50 to 90 percent of women have a craving for at least one particular food during their pregnancy. Food cravings can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy, and sometimes from day to day in the same pregnancy so a food item that a woman strongly desired the day before could be repulsive the next day.

The cause of cravings in pregnancy is not fully understood but certain authorities have explanations for it. Some authorities pin the cravings on hormonal changes in pregnancy which could influence the sense of taste. Others think that the body cells translate nutritional deficiencies into food cravings while some feel it could be protective although this has no scientific backing.

Some pregnant women find themselves with a strong desire for non-food items which include ice, dirt, clay, paper and this is a condition known as Pica. Pica may signal an iron deficiency in pregnancy.

Expectant mothers may also get the urge to eat flour which despite being food items, are a problem in large amounts. Too much of this can lead to blocked bowels not allowing you to take in the nutrients your baby needs because they make you feel full.

If you have any of these urges, resist eating the items you crave and report them to your midwife right away.

It is important to remember that no matter how strong the desire may be, you have to avoid foods which are considered as health risks for pregnant women and developing babies and these foods include:

  • Raw and undercooked seafood, meat, and eggs
  • Raw vegetable sprouts such as scent leaf
  • Herbal teas
  • Alcohol
  • Unpasteurized juice

Note that it is possible to have food cravings and still provide yourself and your baby with the essential nutrients.What to do about your cravings will depend on what type of cravings you're having. If you are craving relatively healthy foods, you can go on and eat them but of course in moderation.

But also ensure that you don't let the foods you're craving become the only foods you eat and do not let them prevent you from eating a wide and varied diet. But if you find that you are craving foods that are high in fats and sugars, and lacking in nutrients such as ice cream, try to caution yourself and only indulge occasionally.  

Failure to take caution might result into too much weight gain and too much weight gain increases the risk of gestational diabetes and unhealthy blood pressure levels. It can be a good idea to try and find healthier alternatives as well, maybe try a frozen yogurt instead of ice-cream.

You should also ensure you eat a balanced diet that includes lean sources of protein, reduced-fat dairy foods, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes. When your diet is balanced, a small portion of a not-so-healthy food won't distort the nutrition your baby needs.

Eat regularly as well to avoid drops in blood sugar that could trigger food cravings. Also, include regular physical activity as tolerated.