Apart from the increased appetite that occurs with pregnancy especially after the first trimester, cravings are also considered part and parcel of the dietary changes that occur in pregnancy. Some women may crave unusual combinations of foods and drinks. Some may even crave indigestible items especially when certain deficiencies are present. But most women just crave everyday foods or some delicacies that are within easy reach. Whatever the craving, the question is whether pregnant women should be be satisfying these cravings or ignoring it?
Eat Freely But Within Reason
Pregnancy is one of the few times in life when a woman’s dietary excesses are not considered to be a problem. Of course, this only applies if excessive weight gain or metabolic disorders like gestational diabetes are not present. Although it is advisable to eat healthy and in moderation, piling on a few hundred extra calories in the day and satisfying the cravings are not considered to be detrimental to the health. In fact this extra nutrition may be needed to sustain mother and the unborn baby and cravings can address deficiencies before they arise.
The bottom line is that cravings should not be ignored. Provided that it is reasonable and accessible, cravings should be satisfied. Driving to your favorite fast food joint in the middle of the night to satisfy a craving can be dangerous. Instances like this should be overlooked in order to avoid the dangers of night driving and potential crime during the dark hours. If the craving persists then it can easily be satisfied in the daytime when acquiring the food of choice will not be a risky endeavor.
Cravings and Nutritional Deficiencies
While we focus on the tastes of different foods, the body is more focused on the nutritional content within these foods. Cravings for specific foods is sometimes the body’s way of signaling that it wants or needs certain nutrients. In pregnancy these cravings will undoubtedly be more frequent and intense as the nutritional demands of both mother and child need to be met. Therefore it should be satisfied when and where possible. However, waiting a few hours or even a day or two to attend a craving will not drastically compromise nutrition.
Even small amounts of the desired food may satiate the cravings. Overeating during a craving can have a host of consequences both in the sort and long term. Indigestion and acid reflux are two common digestive conditions to plague pregnant women. Both conditions are caused and aggravated by overeating. Similarly constantly satisfying cravings with large amounts of the desired foods can lead to excessive calories intake well beyond what would be considered ‘eating for two’. It can lead to excessive weight gain which is not advisable.
The key is finding the balance between satisfying cravings and not going overboard with the munchies. The odd craving now and then which is easily satisfied with a small to medium sized portion of the desired food is not a problem. However, if you are having several cravings in a day that demands large amounts of food to satisfy then it may be time to seek the advice of a nutritionist.