Brighter Days: 4 Top Tips for Coping With Food Cravings in Pregnancy
Pregnancy and cravings go together like pickles and ice cream. Common cravings include ice cream and very salty foods such as pretzels. No one knows for sure why pregnant women have cravings; perhaps they're linked to the hormonal and emotional changes you're going through. Cravings are very normal in pregnancy. Just the word "craving" has sent many a husband scurrying to the store.
Here's how our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- coped with their own pregnancy cravings.
"Initially in my pregnancy, I craved spicy foods," says Diane Connelly, M.D., a mom of one daughter and an OB-GYN in HMO practice in Riverside, California. "But as my pregnancy went along, I craved carbs. I'd ask my husband to make waffles for dinner -- and not those frozen ones. I'd call from work and request homemade waffles."
"I tend to be lean, especially prior to pregnancy, and while I was pregnant with my sons, I was very hungry," says Ann Kulze, M.D., a mom of two grown daughters and two grown sons; a nationally recognized nutrition expert, motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling book series "Eat Right for Life"; and a family physician in Charleston, South Carolina. "Sometimes my body told me to eat things that weren't good for me. I craved French fries and cheeseburgers. I'm an expert in nutrition, so I tried to focus on more wholesome choices, but occasionally I did give in to the high-calorie food cravings."
"I also craved watery, sweet fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple," Dr. Kulze adds. "Those cravings were easy to give in to."
"I think it's important to listen to your body," says Erika Schwartz, M.D., a mom of two and the director of Evolved Science Health. She has been in private practice for more than 30 years in New York City, specializing in women's health, disease prevention and bioidentical hormones. "Cravings are a normal part of pregnancy. They're not a sign that anything is wrong. If you're craving something unhealthy, try to eat something healthier, such as yogurt instead of ice cream. But if you really must have that ice cream, eat it."
"With each of my pregnancies, I developed a huge appetite, and I had cravings for foods that I usually wouldn't allow myself to eat when I wasn't expecting -- salty foods like hot dogs, French fries, and potato chips, and sweet treats like cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and chocolate bars," says Rallie McAllister, M.D., MPH, mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky. "With my first pregnancy, I didn't hold back: I ate whenever I was hungry and whatever I craved. I ended up feeling miserable, both physically and emotionally. Not only did I have a lot of indigestion, I hated feeling fat! By the time my first son was born, I had gained around 60 pounds, which wasn't good for me or my baby."
"When I found out I was pregnant with my second son, I vowed to eat less and gain less weight, but that didn't stop me from craving crazy foods, and it certainly didn't blunt my appetite," Dr. McAllister adds. "Because I was working in the hospital fulltime, I had easy access to an unlimited supply of junk food in vending machines, hospital coffee shops, and the doctors' lounge. Finally, I made a healthy compromise. I started bringing a small cooler to work with me every day, packed with nutritious foods such as yogurt, nuts, granola bars, boiled eggs, and fresh fruits and veggies. At work, I would allow myself to eat whenever I was hungry, but I limited my selection to the foods that were in my cooler. As a result, I never felt hungry or deprived. Although I snacked regularly throughout the day, I ended up eating a more nutritious diet and gaining a lot less weight than I had with my previous pregnancy."
When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife
Sometimes pregnant women crave nonfood items. This condition is called pica. If you're craving nonfood items, such as dirt, copper or detergent, don't indulge those. And call your doctor or midwife about it right away.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, founding CEO of woman- and veteran-owned custom publisher Bright Communications LLC, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years" and six other books in the Mommy MD Guides series. She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.