How do you curb pregnancy cravings? Are you looking for tips on how to eat healthy during pregnancy and be sure to get the proper nutrition. We are thrilled to feature nutrition coach, Abby, and share her tips with you.
Abby Clark is a certified strength, conditioning, yoga, and nutrition coach who is also an experienced bikini competitor. With a passion for fitness, Abby runs a popular blog to inspire and motivate other women to find their own natural strength, beauty, and curves.
She is now expecting her first child and has taken on the commitment to have a fit pregnancy and share her trials and tribulations with other fit moms-to-be.
You can read more blog posts by Abby at www.
I am expecting my first baby next spring! Danny and I are excited about this new adventure of parenthood and we cannot wait to meet our little guy (That is right, we are having a boy!!). I am 22 weeks along now and I have to admit pregnancy is not what I had expected.
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to pregnancy and nutrition. I have heard from dozens that I can “eat for two” or to “listen to the baby; baby will tell you what you need.” For many women these myths can lead to massive, out of control cravings that can take control of their food intake (and life) while pregnant. As we all know, most women already struggle with cravings before pregnancy. Add in an increase need for nutrients and astronomically high levels of estrogen and good old fashioned will power becomes totally ineffective. Averting cravings while pregnant can be difficult but it is possible with a little nutrition and psychology 101.
First, let’s talk about nutrition…the physical part of cravings.
The best way to avoid cravings is too minimize their frequency through sound nutrition. Pregnancy is NOT the time to worry about weight loss or diets, but it IS a great time to learn more about the following:
1- Consistent, balanced meals vs. random meals
2- Nutrient dense foods vs. calorie dense foods
3- Nourishing, well thought out nutrition strategy vs. an impulsive one
With an understanding of these principals you will be likely to make healthier food choices for both you and baby and avoid packing on unnecessary weight due to cravings.
As a nutrition coach I’ve worked with many women with weight loss goals. Many tell me that they go to the gym and work out, eat salads for lunch, and drink lots of water. Many of these women are frustrated with lack of results and want to give up. After I review their food journal almost 9 out of 10 times the reason for their lack of progress is because they are not eating enough. Many women eat very sparingly throughout the day and then by evening they are starved because they are at a huge caloric deficit! Because the body is programed for survival, naturally they receive strong urges to reach for the most convenient calorie dense food they can find in the kitchen and dig in. Then they get up and repeat day after, day, after day. It is a vicious cycle that often leads to slow weight gain instead of slow and steady weight loss. The best way to avoid cravings and unnecessary weight gain in general is to eat frequent, balanced, nutrient dense meals throughout the day and not become obsessed with calories. Period.
Frequent = Eating often throughout the day
Balanced = Meals that provide all of essential macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) in roughly equal proportions.
Nutrient Dense = Unprocessed, real food naturally full of vital micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
Nothing changes with pregnancy, except the need for MORE nutrient dense foods! (Note: This means eat MORE food. Stop being afraid of calories!). For some people that means more frequency and others it just means bigger meals. Here’s the magic behind this approach…cravings will virtually disappear and any weight gain will be exactly what is needed for a healthy pregnancy!
Additionally, a great habit to build while pregnant is taking a prenatal vitamin. A prenatal vitamin will guarantee (sort of like an insurance policy) that you are taking in all of the micronutrients that your body needs as well as baby. Your baby is sucking tons of nutrients and if you are having a hard time eating lots of fruits and vegetables due to morning sickness the prenatal vitamin will provide those essential micronutrients.
OK, now let’s talk about emotions…the psychological part of cravings.
While committing to consistently incorporating the nutritional principles outlined above will eliminate most cravings, we all know that eating is also closely tied to our emotional state. I know firsthand that pregnancy is very (emphasis on VERY) emotional and eating yummy treats is an easy way to temporarily cope. My greatest psychological struggle has been my body image. As a woman, I know that body image is our shared nemesis. No matter what we do, our pregnant body continuously grows larger, wider, puffer… (insert whatever adjective used to describe large, gelatinous objects). For me, sometimes reaching for the Butterfinger sounds like a pretty good idea to me because I think, “What the hell, I am going to gain weight no matter what”. At this point I have an intense internal dialogue to decide what to do. Sometimes I take the bite (literally) and sometimes I walk away. I am here to tell you that taking a bite every once and awhile is okay. But you have to be stronger than that emotionally driven craving and not give into it all the time.
The absolute best way to avoid emotional eating, in my experience, is to exercise instead. Why? Because exercise stimulates the release of the very same type of “feel good” hormones that eating junk food does. The critical difference is that, unlike eating junk food, exercise also promotes a better body image and encourages better eating habits for you and your baby.
I have found other coping mechanisms that have helped when I am feeling vulnerable.
Drink a warm cup of tea with some honey
Take a bath with aromatherapy such as lavender or spearmint
Yoga- Child’s Pose is very relaxing
Have fun preparing new healthy meals
How often should you allow yourself to enjoy fulfilling cravings for junk food?
Every 3-4 days is about right.
In the end, the goal for a any pregnancy is to provide you and your growing baby with the proper nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnancy can be a very difficult time for moms-to-be and there shouldn’t be any pressure to be perfect; just as healthy as possible. The strategies above will only help you with that goal and allow for a quick recovery postpartum.
What are your thoughts on cravings and pregnancy?
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