Pregnancy and cravings seem to go hand-in-hand. Many moms used to use cravings to justify eating whatever they want and as much of it as they want. Now, women are more conscious of what they put in their body and want to make healthier choices but what do you do when the craving hits?

According to Hands Off My Belly! The Pregnant Woman’s Survival Guide to Myths, Mothers and Moods Cravings have been studied at length, and yet no definitive answers … exist. Personally, we tend to think they are more behavior related thean mediated by actual nutritional need.” So you may desire a food you no longer treat yourself to now that you are pregnant and may feel deprived so you “crave” it. Similar to dieting, you may simply be wanting something you believe you can’t have. For the most part a craving is fine to indulge in as long as you keep the portion reasonable and it’s part of a healthy diet.

A few important points to consider before you indulge:

– Organic may be healthier but not healthy. Potato chips are still loaded with fat, salt and offer little nutritional value even if they are organic.

– Prenatal Vitamins do not replace a healthy diet. Vitamins are meant to fill the nutritional gaps in our diet, not be the only way to get proper nutrients. Eat well first.

– Eating out of boredom or stress will only add to your caloric intake and physically discomfort. Try journaling to address the emotional triggers and keep snacks and meals small to stay comfortable.

– Eat a well balanced breakfast everyday so that you don’t get too hungry and stop for coffee and a donut because it’s convenient.

What to choose when you crave a certain food

Here are some healthy and yummy alternatives to the most craved foods in pregnancy:

Sweet Ice Cream: Choose low-fat or non-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream. Even just a serving of vanilla yogurt may satisfy the need for something cold, sweet and creamy while also giving you calcium, Vit D, and even probiotics.

Salty Potato chips: Low sodium pretzels or microwave popcorn will give you something crunchy without too many calories. Another option is whole grain tortilla chips and salsa, flavoured rice crackers or baked crackers. Baked potato chips are ok but although they have less fat, they may still have the same calories.

Colas or Soda: Try flavoured mineral water or water with a little juice. At the very least choose non-caffeinated sodas and avoid artificial sweeteners or diet drinks. There are many natural sodas made with juice that make a great substitute.

Sweets like cakes, pastries:  Whole-grain cinnamon or blueberry bagels, low-fat muffins. One option is raisin bread which also has iron and might just hit the spot.

Chocolate: Try chocolate milk, hot cocoa with milk or if you absolutely need it choose at least 70% dark chocolate for the  antioxidants, less fat and sugar.

Spicy: BBQ flavoured rice cakes or baked crackers, salsa on pasta, Cajon spices on grilled chicken.

Greasy: Oven baked french fries (even store bought) are often lower fat than fast food fries, more nutritious and can still feel like an indulgence. For added nutrition, try to use sweet potatoes.

Enjoy your pregnancy and indulge a little with healthier food choices.  For more great advice, please read “Learning to Love Your Pregnant Body” by Ann Douglas.