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How to Manage Pregnancy Cravings


All women experience cravings, but with the fluctuating hormones of pregnancy, food cravings reach an all time high. A nutritious diet helps the physical and cognitive development of the baby on board, so it should come as no surprise that eating too much junk food can negatively impact your pregnancy. Learn how to curb pregnancy cravings (and know when it’s okay to indulge).

What Women Need to Know about Pregnancy Cravings

Eating healthy foods boosts the wellbeing of a mom and her baby during pregnancy. Following a nutritious diet improves the child’s brain development, lowers the risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects, and helps keep both mom and baby at a healthy weight. Does that mean expectant mothers can never indulge? Of course not. Recent medical research suggests that it’s alright to indulge, even in items previously thought off limits, like limited amounts of caffeine. However, the idea that pregnancy cravings tell moms their body needs is unsubstantiated. Pregnancy cravings, though harder to ignore than regular cravings, are often nothing more than a hormone-hijacked thought that, “That sounds delicious right now.”

How to Curb Pregnancy Cravings

What’s a mom to do when the cravings strike? Before reaching for comfort foods, learn how to deal with pregnancy cravings.

  • Know what your cravings mean. While a craving for chocolate may just be a craving for chocolate, cravings for nonfood items like ice, cornstarch, or charcoal may be a sign of pica. Always notify your doctor if you experience unusual (especially nonfood) cravings.
  • Always resist eating raw seafood, meat, or eggs; unpasteurized milk; unpasteurized juice; and raw vegetable sprouts. Avoid drinking herbal teas or alcohol.
  • Eat a balanced diet recommended by your obstetrician or midwife to reduce pregnancy cravings.
  • Eat every few hours to avoid dips in blood sugar.
  • Keep active as recommended by your doctor.

When to Indulge

Pregnancy isn’t nine months of self-denial. Try these healthy ways to indulge pregnancy cravings.

  • Find the source of the craving. Are you really craving chips, or are you craving crunch? Choose a healthy snack that satisfies your base need.
  • Eat healthy versions of your favorite snacks (like fresh fruit instead of sweet treats).
  • Indulge in small doses. Instead of eating a king sized candy bar, try the fun-sized version.
  • Don’t ignore the power of dark chocolate! Milk chocolate has few nutritional benefits, but dark chocolate is full of antioxidants. If you can’t curb your chocolate craving, trade that Hershey’s bar for something 60% cocoa or higher.

Not sure what to eat during your pregnancy? Ask your obstetrician or midwife to create a nutritional meal plan to fit your needs. For more advice on prenatal health, call us at 770.720.7733.