I remember the first two months of pregnancy, all I wanted was CARBS. And I don’t mean quinoa and sweet potato, I mean plain white bagels with cream cheese or a literal entire box of crackers.
Yup, that was my diet the first two months of pregnancy. Was I afraid that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients for lil bubby boi? Yes, but did my OB ensure me that as long as I was taking my prenatal vitamins and eating enough calories he’d be just fine? YUP.
So I stopped my usual “diet control” mindset and just allowed myself to eat intuitively even if that meant I wasn’t consuming my usual daily salads and smoothies. And then came the cravings (and aversions).
For me my cravings were, and still are, cheese. I was completely dairy free prior to becoming pregnant, but my god now I’m a cheese monster. Before, dairy would make me bloated and windy , and would even give me pretty bad cystic acne. I’m not sure if it’s the different levels of hormones, but cheese doesn’t negatively effect me at all now! Even though I still don’t consume milk, I’ve been going HAM on sheep’s milk feta cheese, goat cheese, parfaits, and kefir. Besides that, I had a 1 month stint where I wanted pickled spicy foods so I would eat pickled jalapenos and turkey roll-ups, or Giardinara mixed with cottage cheese or cream cheese (I still love eating kite hill vegan cream cheese). That was it! Cheese and spicy pickly recipes. Oh and about two weeks of wanting burgers so badly that I researched every single fast food chain around to see what burgers were lower in calories than the others so that I could go on a burger hop daily without adding an extra 2k calories to my day.
I think what was more intense for me in the first trimester as well as now, are my food aversions. During the first trimester I didn’t want to even look at Mexican or Asian food (and I usually LOVE both types of cuisine), and couldn’t eat meat unless it was minced into a meatball or a sausage. Even in my third trimester I’ve turned into a strange picky eater, just letting bubby boi decide for me what to eat as most days I feel like I don’t really have a “taste” for anything. Does anyone else experience this?
ANYWAY! If you’re having crazy strange food cravings, I’ve rounded up some ways that you can manage them and still eat healthy nutrients for you and baby.
How to deal with pregnancy cravings
The number one thing I want to shout from the rooftop. DO NOT DEPRIVE YOURSELF WHEN PREGNANT. I used to be a crazy control freak when it came to what I ate, and now I simply just allow myself to eat what I’m craving while focusing on food swaps (and a lot of times just allowing myself to eat what I’m craving in moderation). We are human and it is 100% ok to slip up, but don’t snowball and stock up your kitchen with chocolate chip cookies and pizzas. I still follow the rule of not keeping desserts or unhealthy foods in my home to prevent cravings from turning into actual eating habits. Does my hubby like this? No – cause he’s addicted to sugar, OI (he’s my special project, and I’m pretty sure he secretly shovels sweets into his face while at work cause he knows I don’t allow sweets in our kitchen, but I’m digressing). In addition to not keeping super sized containers of the foods you’re craving in your kitchen, here’s some additional ways to navigate specific cravings while pregnant.
Sugar cravings while pregnant
Did you know that your cravings could be a signal that you need to consume more of a specific nutrient? When you’re craving sugar, your body may be telling you that you need foods rich in sulfur or phosphorus. So you may want to snack on some fruit, mashed cauliflower, eggs or simmered kale.
Yet sometimes you just want an ooey gooey brownie, but a whole container? Thaaat’s a little excessive. Instead of going hog wild, make healthy swaps of your favorite desserts. I love making avocado and black bean brownies (I swear they taste yummy and you’re getting healthy nutrients), or if you’re craving dessert try making this banana chocolate nice cream or matcha ice cream *but be mindful of caffeine content*. If you’re craving chocolate, this dairy free chocolate pudding tastes divine.
You can also opt for fruit instead like berries which are low in sugar content and ultra high in antioxidants, and watermelon which helps balance your fluid levels.
Carbohydrate cravings while pregnant
I’ve talked to SO many mamas who experience carb cravings in the first trimester (mainly due to that’s all they can stomach because of morning sickness). BUT you don’t have to be completely doomed! You can still eat carbohydrates, just be mindful. When you’re craving carbs like bread your body may need the nutrient nitrogen, so try including more beans/legumes, nuts and fish into your meals and see if that helps level out constant cravings.
But if you simply just want some carby goodness, you can still enjoy it! Now that almost every grocery store has healthier carb heavy snack options, look for crackers breads or pastas that are made with alternative flours like almond flour, chia and flax, or complex sprouted grains. This way you’re still getting nutrients in addition to your carbs. You can also include a healthy protein or fat source so that you don’t experience heavy insulin spikes. Perhaps a morning avocado toast would satisfy?
Salty cravings while pregnant
OH this is one I still struggle with! Cravings for salty foods while pregnant can be a s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e. Some days I just wanted an entire bag of chips. BUT instead of devouring those chips, try noshing on some popcorn sprinkled with pepper and Himalayan salt (or choosing one of many healthy salty popcorn brands available these days). Some experts believe that pregnant women crave salt because their body needs to retain more water while building a bub, and sodium gets expelled when you pee 100 times a day. So instead of reaching for salty chips, choose salted edamame which gives you a protein kick, a handful of olives in a salad with salty cheese, dill pickles and miso soup – all healthier options!
Comfort food cravings while pregnant
If there’s one thing I love pregnant or not, it’s comfort food. Luckily, I’ve spent years creating recipes that are healthy comfort food swaps so I get to feel like I’m eating mashed potatoes and all sorts of delicious meals with healthier ingredients. I love eating cauliflower mashed potatoes (you can get frozen cauli mash at Trader Joes and simply heat it up with whatever type of seasoning you’d like), and I love making healthier pasta carbanara, cheesy cauliflower gratin (dairy free), and all sorts of comfort food recipes.
The theme is, don’t beat yourself up when you feel like you aren’t eating your best while pregnant. The first trimester can be super tough on a mama. Between morning sickness and food aversions, carbs may be all you can stomach and that’s OK! One thing to remember is that this phase is just temporary and soon into your second trimester you’ll be able to eat as you normally do once again (but probably in larger quantities). Any mama’s out there have their own craving alternatives they love to munch on? I’d love for you to share in the comments or to tag me on Insta or Twitter with your tips!