Ice creams, pickles, spicy food and other weird cravings are hallmark signs of pregnancy, isn't it? I bet you have your own food craving stories to share. While I agree that you need to double your daily nutrition, I disagree that these foods are the best choices you can make. Most of them are loaded with calories and saturated sugars that will contribute to unhealthy weight gain. However, the cravings make their presence felt, and strongly at that!
So, what can you do to control them? Sacrifice your sudden urges? You don't have to if you can learn to manage them. Here are some ways that can help you manage your high-calorie food cravings:
1. It's More In Your Mind
Cravings during pregnancy are more rooted in your mental state at that point in time. It is quite understandable since you experience hormonal fluctuations during your pregnancy. For example, leptin, the satiety hormone secreted by your fat cells that reduces appetite and stimulates your metabolism, may be low. Also, Neuropeptide Y (NPY) which is a powerful appetite stimulant may be secreted more into your blood causing your craving for comfort food.
Also, women with prior history of eating disorders are likely to feel the food urges more strongly than others. The only way to deal with your urges is to discipline your mind. Ask yourself if the food you crave is the food your body needs. You are not making sacrifices. You will only be making the better and healthier choice.
2. Never Shop Hungry
This one trick should always be remembered. When you are hungry and shopping for your groceries, you are more likely to pick those foods that satiate your soul but are no help with your weight loss. Doing so stimulates ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, and thus makes you overeat.
Leptin or the satiety hormone takes longer to be secreted in your body and send signals to your brain that interprets the message and tells you that you are satisfied. Hunger can compel you to make the worst food choices, so never walk around with the shopping cart when you are hungry.
3. Use Quick Fixes
Also, when you are hungry and at home, never try making elaborate meals. It will only make you cranky. Instead, go for quick fixes. Mix up a salad of baby spinach leaves, zucchini, roasted and crushed almonds, some cottage cheese or leftover roasted chicken. Drizzle some olive oil as dressing and season with salt and pepper. The fiber in spinach and zucchini will help satiate your hunger. The meat and nuts will add texture and flavor to your food.
Or, if you have a watermelon in the fridge, take it out and cut it into small cubes. Watermelon is an abundant source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also a diuretic and helps flush out toxins from your body more frequently. Watermelons also contain lycopene that prevents preeclampsia during pregnancy.
4. Never Skip Your Scheduled Meals
You can control your cravings significantly if you can curb your hunger. You can do so by sticking to your meal schedules. Not only is it unhealthy to skip meals when you are pregnant, but it also contributes heavily to your cravings and indulging in fatty foods.
You should ideally have 3 meals and 2-3 snacks between your meals. Also, ensure that you have a balanced diet of adequate carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. If you are suffering from morning sickness, heartburn or food aversions, it's best to small portions, but more frequently.
5. Think Of Alternatives
It serves well to think of alternatives to your comfort food. It prevents you from indulging in foods that will cause unhealthy weight gain. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, brussel sprouts, and broccoli are rich sources of dietary fiber that add volume to your food. Added fiber ensures that you feel full for longer and keeps your hunger pangs at bay. You can also choose colorful fruits and whole grains for dietary fiber.
Fruits also contain antioxidants that strengthen your immunity and supplement your baby's nutritional requirements. If you want a chocolate milkshake, you can whip up chocolate yogurt smoothie in the blender. Or, if you are craving chocolate, then have dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolates. Some quick thinking can be of great help while dealing with your cravings.
You have to remember that your food choices are going to affect another person besides yourself. So, it is best to rationalize and make the better choice. You can indulge but make it a once in a while affair. Discipline your mind so that you do not succumb to temptation that is eventually going to prove to be harmful to you.
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