Pregnancy cravings — good or bad?

Chocolates, sour foods, meat, seafood and dairy products, you seem to want them all! But should you?


Everybody knows that pregnancy is a great excuse… uh… time, we mean time… to gorge on sweets, meat and everything in between. After all, you’re eating for you and for baby! And as unhealthy as some foods may be, pregnancy cravings can be hard to suppress.

          But can you resist or stop these cravings? Or substitute something healthier that still feeds your cravings? SmartParents talked to several nutritionists to find out more.

          “If you look at it from an evolutionary point of view, cravings ensure that a pregnant woman gets key nutrients for the survival of mum and child,” says Pooja Vig, a nutritionist at The Nutrition Clinic.

          Cravings usually start in the first trimester, heighten in the second and start declining in the third trimester. Nutritionist Dr Kalpana Bhaskaran from the Singapore Nutrition & Dietetics Association (SNDA), explained that cravings in pregnancy are caused by fluctuations of the mother’s hormones, changes in the way she perceives tastes and smells, maternal and/or foetal nutritional needs and preferences, some evolutionary  mechanisms that protect the foetus from toxins, and cultural norms.

“Cravings ensure that a pregnant woman gets key nutrients for the survival of mum and child.”

           Some cravings result from a nutritional deficiency. Pooja says, “I had a client who had been on a vegan diet for several years before becoming pregnant. In her pregnancy, she had strong cravings for red meat. That was her body's signal that she needed the protein and iron top up during pregnancy.”

          In general, how you can exercise control over your cravings is by:

  1. Eating small, healthy meals throughout your pregnancy. Plan for healthy snacks such as a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.
  2. Eating breakfast every day (to start your day right after your “fast” while sleeping).
  3. Exercising regularly (under your doctor’s care, of course).
  4.  Trying to stay away from foods you crave by avoid anything that triggers the craving. This could be as simple as not going out to pubs with your colleagues after work — you know that alcohol isn’t good for baby, so ask your colleagues to meet at a coffee shop and order herbal teas.
  5. Get emotional support — from your husband, from your family, from your friends and colleagues.
  6. Train yourself to think small — if you crave one of the more harmless foods such as chocolate, try eating one square instead of an entire bar.

What to eat for a healthy pregnancy 

Click next for no-no foods to avoid.…

Photo: iStock