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Pregnancy Cravings: When You Gotta Have It!

Pregnancy and food cravings go hand in hand; 3 experts offer suggestions for healthy cravings.


Bernstein tells WebMD that how you handle your cravings could make a big difference.

"If you are craving high-fat premium ice cream and chocolate doughnuts and eating them all the time, you could see your weight blossom to an unhealthy level quite early on," he says.

If you are at risk for gestational diabetes (diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy that can affect the health of both baby and mom), giving in to high-sugar cravings could cause even more problems.

"With gestational diabetes you not only have to watch weight gain, but also what you eat -- so again, cravings can easily get out of hand," says Bernstein.

The good news is that you don't have to spend your pregnancy with a yen you just can't fill. Clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, says it's easy to quench a pregnancy craving with healthy alternatives if you simply know what it is you really want.

"It's all about understanding what your craving is really for and then finding a more healthy version of that same food, and make a simple substitution," says Heller, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

Nutritionist Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, agrees: "If the food you are craving is pretty healthful, I'd give in to the cravings; but if it's lacking healthful nutrients, I'd look for healthier alternatives."

The key say both experts, is to not automatically reach for the food you think you want -- but instead take a few minutes to understand what your body is telling you.

"If you crave, for, example, some yummy premium strawberry ice cream, try to break your craving down: Are you longing for something cold, smooth, creamy, and sweet, or is it the taste of strawberries you really want?" says Heller.

Once you understand what you really want, it's easier to choose a healthy alternative.

"Maybe a strawberry sorbet will fill your needs, or a dish of fresh strawberries with low-fat topping or maybe even a strawberry yogurt. If you just stop to think about what you're really craving, it can be easy to find something healthy and tasty," says Heller.

"If it's the calcium you are needing, you can take a calcium supplement or use other dairy products such as cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, and kefir to fill the bill," Lipski tells WebMD.

To help get you started thinking in the right direction, our experts offer these suggestions for healthy food fixes that can satisfy your craving and keep you well.

Healthy Food Fixes for Your Pregnancy Cravings

If you craveTry eating ...
Ice CreamNonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet
ColaMineral water with fruit juice or lime
Doughnuts/pastryWhole-grain bagel with fresh fruit jam
Doughnuts/pastryWhole-grain bagel with fresh fruit jam
CakeLow-fat banana or zucchini bread
Sugar-coated cerealWhole-grain cereal or oatmeal, with brown sugar
Potato chipsLow-sodium, low-fat chips, popcorn, or pretzels
Sour creamNo-fat sour cream or non-fat plain yogurt flavored with herbs
Sundae toppingsFresh berries or bananas
Canned fruits in heavy syrupFresh fruit, frozen unsweetened fruit, fruit packed in water, juice
Lunch meatsLow-fat or fat-free meats, turkey or soy Bologna, beef hot dogs
Whipped creamIce cold no-fat milk whipped with a hand-held immersion blender

Colette Bouchez is the author of Your Perfectly Pampered Pregnancy: Health, Beauty and Lifestyle Advice for the Modern Mother-To-Be.

Reviewed on October 08, 2008

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