There are plenty of unexpected physical changes and sudden food preferences that arise with pregnancy. Some women crave the refreshing taste of watermelon, some are drawn to the tartness of pickles, and others like myself, lean into the sweet, sugary and overall unhealthy indulgences like cookies and candy that satisfy and comfort, but carry little to no nutritional value. While I’m a firm believer in satisfying your cravings, it is essential to keep a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet that aids in the healthy development of your growing baby. Here are four common cravings of expectant mothers, and some healthy replacements for when those needs come calling.
1. Craving: Ice Cream – Replacement: Greek Yogurt
Let me start by saying that nothing can truly replace ice cream. However, Greek yogurt is a delicious and less-fattening alternative that is protein-rich and fulfills 20% of your daily calcium requirement. It even provides vitamin B12 and contains nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which work together to promote healthy bones. That combination of vitamins helps combat high blood pressure as well, which can be critical for some expectant moms. Make sure you purchase yogurt that is made with pasteurized milk to avoid any risks with listeria. Here’s a little trick to satisfy that craving: buy your favorite brand of Greek yogurt and put it in the freezer. Scoop it out of the container into a bowl or a cone and add a few toppings like shaved coconut, cocoa nibs, nuts, or dare we say, sprinkles. Hey, why not?
2. Craving: Salty or Tangy Potato Chips – Replacement: Flavored Almonds
It’s easy to munch your way through an entire bag of potato chips, pregnant or not. Unfortunately, chips have little to no nutritional value and they add unhealthy fat to your diet. If you get a craving for salty or tangy chips, try Salt and Vinegar Almonds, by Blue Diamond. They’re crunchy, packed with flavor, and much better for you than chips, due to their high content of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. You can finally feel good about a little late-night snacking.
3. Craving: Chocolate – Replacement: Dark Chocolate
If you’re craving chocolate, your body is letting you know it needs Magnesium. Magnesium is essential because it helps your body to absorb calcium, which is a crucial element to your diet, especially while pregnant. Luckily, dark chocolate can fulfill this need, provided you eat a purer quality chocolate, so go right ahead and indulge, but don’t reach for the candy bars at the local pharmacy just yet. Look for the percentage of cacao on the wrapper, an indicator of antioxidant flavonols, and avoid dark chocolate that specifies “alkalinization,” which strips out flavonols altogether. What you want to see is a balance of sugar and vanilla that don’t dominate the chocolate, but level out the bitterness of the cacao and cocoa butter.
4. Craving: Crunchy Ice – Replacement: Grass-fed Beef or Green Leafy Veggies
If you’re craving cold, crunchy ice, it’s a blatant sign that your body might need iron. Needing something crunchy and cold is one of those tell-tale pregnancy signs that if actually acted on, could lead to damaged teeth. Let’s avoid a hefty dentist bill and fulfill that craving in a more substantial way. March yourself to the butcher or the steakhouse and enjoy a good steak. If you’re a vegetarian, a hefty plate of dark green leafy vegetables of your choice should also do the trick.
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