Pregnancy Cravings: When You Gotta Have It!
Pregnancy and food cravings go hand in hand; 3 experts offer suggestions for healthy cravings.
Not only can this cause serious deficiencies in both baby and mom, since
oftentimes the foods we crave during pregnancy can be laden with empty
calories, it can also lead to gaining too much weight; a problem that doctors
say is on the rise.
Rebarber explains that because the population, as a whole, weighs more, it's
not uncommon for overweight women to get pregnant -- meaning there is an even
greater need to ensure she doesn't gain an excessive amount of weight during
Indeed, a Scandinavian study of 600 pregnant women published in the journal
Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2002 showed that excessive weight gain during
pregnancy increased the risk of preeclampsia (a life-threatening condition
often characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure), as well as a series of
labor and delivery problems.
According to the Institute of Medicine, if you are of normal weight before
pregnancy, you should aim to gain between 25 and 35 pounds while pregnant. But
if you're overweight at the time of conception, your goal pregnancy weight
should be no more than 15 to 25 pounds.
Bernstein tells WebMD that how you handle your cravings could make a big
"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
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.