It's definitely common to have some food cravings in pregnancy but don't let the cravings "trick" you into eating things that aren't good for you! Eating as healthy and balanced as you can during pregnancy is essential to support optimal fetal growth and development, as well as handling the physiological changes that occur to you as you grow your baby.
Here's 5 tips to help you fight those sugar cravings:
1. EAT OFTEN!
Trying your best to stick to a schedule of small meals and snacks throughout your day will help keep your blood sugars more balanced than eating 3 regular meals. Your best option is to try to graze through your day, not going longer than 3-4 hours without eating.
During your 2nd trimester, your body needs extra energy and nutrients to help with fetal growth. As a result, you might feel like you're always hungry because you "fill up" sooner with less food than you are used to eating. Eating smaller, frequent meals and snacks helps you get what your need without overloading your system.
2. ADD PROTEIN TO EACH MEAL OR SNACK!
Protein will help balance your blood sugars and has the added benefit of building new muscle and increasing your overall blood supply.
Protein helps to regulate blood sugars and feel less drawn to indulging in the extra calories and sugars of other foods.
Optimal protein intake in pregnancy is 80-100 grams daily.
Protein provides amino acids (the building blocks of the body) which are necessary for fetal tissue development and maternal tissue expansion. Several studies indicate that protein is the single most critical element for fetal neurological development. So grab that chicken (26 grams per 3oz) and eat those eggs (12 grams per 2 eggs).
3. EAT A VARIETY.
Incorporating foods from all the food groups...fruits, dairy, vegetables, grains, and protein...will help keep that diet at its best. The better you eat, the better the chances are you and your baby are getting your best nutrition.
Eating foods rich in folate and folic acid helps to prevent brain and spinal cord problems, and decreases risks of premature birth and having a low birth weight baby. Ideal amounts are 4000mcg before pregnancy and 600-1000mcg during pregnancy.
Calcium helps to strengthen not only your bones but those developing for baby as well. Calcium also helps support healthy circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems.
Vitamin D works together with calcium to help build those bones and teeth.
Virtually everyone is walking around with lower than optimal levels of Vitamin D due to our indoor lifestyles. We always recommend starting with 125mcg (5000 IU) daily up to 250mcg (10,000 IU) daily for our melanin-rich moms and staying on that for 3-5 weeks, then decreasing by half for the remainder of pregnancy.
Iron is what builds our hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout our systems. During pregnancy you need double your non-pregnant iron levels to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby. Iron deficient anemia can cause headaches, and unnecessary fatigue, as well as increase your risk for premature birth, low birth weight in baby, and postpartum depression. A good starting point is 27mg daily heme iron through a diet rich in quality red meats, poultry, and seafood.
4. INCREASE FIBER INTAKE.
Fiber will help you feel more full, helps with constipation, help to maintain blood pressure levels, and decreases the risk of preeclampsia. Easy ways to increase your fiber include eating 5 fruits and veggies daily, add chia or flax seeds to your cereal or smoothie, and choose whole grain bread and pasta. The recommended daily intake is 28 grams.
5. EAT FRUITS INSTEAD OF SWEETS.
This can be a little trickier as some fruits are full of sugars that aren't the best for you. Some good ones include:
bananas (added fiber and potassium help maintain good blood pressure)
oranges (folate and vitamin C)
avocados (healthy fat, vitamins C, E, K, and fiber)
apples (fiber, potassium, Vitamins A and C...and they pair well with peanut butter as a protein)
mangoes (can help ease diarrhea and respiratory issues), berries (raspberries, blueberries, goji, strawberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants), watermelon (helps reduce acid reflux and heartburn, eases muscles cramps, increases hydration levels, helps flush fluids that are causing edema)
apricots (calcium, folic acid, magnesium, and potassium boosts)
cherries (helps create sufficient blood supply to the placenta)
pomegranates (iron-rich and nutrient dense these will help prevent iron deficient anemia in pregnancy).
You can always "treat" yourself to an ounce of chocolate now and then. Dark chocolate (60% cocoa or higher) has been shown to help increase blood flow to your brain to help improve memory.
It contains Epicatechin which can help lower blood pressure (2oz per week can decrease stroke risks by 20%), and it can decrease bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. The oleic acid in cocoa butter is the same momo-unsaturated fatty acid that's found in olive oil.
It can also amplify your cells' mitochondrial function (energy levels).
Cocoa butter fats trigger natural endorphins and tiny amounts of anandamide (a marijuana-like brain chemical) for a "happiness lift"
Cocoa can light up your brain's frontal lobe -- its addiction center -- and leave you craving more.
But don't over-do it! Some studies have shown that dietary sources of flavonoids/polyphenols/nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) can trigger fetal ductus arteriosis constrictions, especially when consumed in 3rd trimester,
Want to learn more about how nutrition plays a part in helping you build your best pregnancy? This is what midwifery care does best! Contact us here or on Facebook and let's book your consult for midwifery or monitrice support for your pregnancy.
All About Women MD
What to Expect
Choices in Childbirth
Integrative Women's Health Institute