Cravings are a major part of most pregnancies, but most people don’t often want the healthiest foods, and yet there are ways to get what you want while avoiding the “junk.” Soda, chips, cold cuts, sweets… these are the things we often call “junk food” because they are full of fat, salt, and sugar but offer little to no nutrition. However, most people develop a taste for such foods and will usually snack on them from time to time, or even more frequently than that. This can lead to weight gain and even some health problems including dental problems from sugar, high blood pressure from salt, and heart disease from trans fats.
When you are pregnant, you absolutely must avoid such problematic foods, but it can be a time when you crave them even more than ever. Though the occasional “cheat” won’t do any harm (with the exception of risky foods such as raw fish, alcohol, and caffeine), you have to find some better alternatives. We are going to consider some of the best ways to satisfy your junk food cravings without compromising yours or your baby’s health.
A List of Easy Swaps
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to go to bed and wake up thinking about certain foods. The demands placed on the body by pregnancy tend to increase hunger and allow a pregnant woman to become fixated on food from time to time. This is something that can make them want to grab a simple or “fast” food to satisfy their cravings. Thus, many women find themselves eating candies, bags of chips, canned fruit soaking in sugary syrup, cookies, and more.
How can you possibly swap out healthy foods for these unhealthy choices? The following tips will help:
1. Dedicate time to making “fast” foods before hunger strikes. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables to have as ready to eat snacks sitting in the fridge. Always carry prepared snacks when out and about too.
2. Choose a time for snacking. When you know that you can eat a snack at a specific time of day, it can help you to overcome hunger pangs created by fatigue, boredom, or because you have just spotted an amazingly tempting food. Instead, you can simply say to yourself, “Nope… you can eat your healthy snack in ten minutes.”
3. Choose to eat five or six small meals. As your pregnancy progresses, you are less likely to feel comfortable eating bigger meals. Before that time arrives, try to regulate your blood sugar and control cravings by getting used to five or six small meals each day.
4. Decide on portions. When you know that a certain food is a weak point and that you will indulge in it, mentally decide your maximum serving size for that snack. As an example, a measuring cup of ice cream instead of a large bowl is a good way to train your brain to avoid overeating snack foods.
In addition to using these tips, also consider the following food swap options:
• Ice cream. This one is okay from time to time, but if you crave it every day you will want to cut the fat and sugar by eating nonfat frozen yogurt or even a sugar-free sorbet.
• Cake. Again, a slice now and then will harm no one, but if you want to eat cake a few times each week, swap it out with some sugarless angel food cake, a whole wheat banana bread, or a dense green tomato or zucchini bread.
• Chips These are not such a great snack at any time because of the high salt, fat, and carbohydrate content. Get them out of the diet and choose unsalted tortilla chips, plain popcorn, a baked potato, or “oven chips” made by slicing potatoes thinly and baking until crisp.
• Soda. Worst of the worst, and can be swapped out for a bubbly mineral water with some fresh fruit juices added.
You don’t have to succumb to unhealthy food and diet choices when you prepare and make a few good swaps.