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Cravings During Pregnancy

Pregnant Mom with ApplesEver find yourself craving something sweet or salty during your pregnancy? It’s not uncommon for women to experience an overwhelming desire for certain snack items. In fact, these sudden urges for ice cream, pickles or potato chips can hit 50-90% of woman at some point during their pregnancy. But are such cravings harmful to you or your baby?

More often than not, cravings are for foods and beverages containing empty calories that can potentially replace good nutrition when eaten in excess. This could eventually lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as extra weight gain during pregnancy.

Satisfying that insatiable food craving is okay as long as the foods you’re craving are safe. Here are a few quick tips from the March of Dimes for handling your food cravings like a pro:

  • Work your cravings into everyday meal planning and eating. For sweetness add fruits like melons to meals, or salsa for a bit of spice.
  • Find healthier options to your cravings. Instead of indulging in chocolate cake, see if a square of dark chocolate will do the trick. If it’s the crunch you’re looking for, opt for fresh veggies such as carrots with hummus.
  • Avoid the bulk. Buy single-serve foods so you can avoid over-indulging.
  • Plan snacks. Having a snack to look forward to may help curb the impulse to reach for less nutritious foods.
  • Keep portions in mind. Eating too much of what you crave can cause problems like heartburn and weight gain. Remember, you only need 300 extra calories each day to support baby’s growth!

What if my cravings are for items that aren’t actual foods?

The compulsive intake of nonfoods, called pica, can cause problems for you and your baby. Examples of common pica cravings include ice, clay, coffee grounds, laundry soap, chalk and dirt. If you find yourself wanting to fill up on these items, contact your healthcare provider immediately.