Emily Rydbom, CN, HN, CNP
Cravings. We all have them, pregnant or not. Even when you are craving pickles, eggs, and broccoli, eating too much of one thing can make any of us feel worse for the wear. Regardless of our best intentions, we can still become imbalanced with healthy food, let alone food that isn't nutrient dense and health promoting. That's why sometimes too much of a good thing can still be too much. I often get asked, "Am I craving certain foods because the baby needs them?" Short answer? It depends. If the craving is a whole cheesecake then I think we can all safely say, "probably not." However, if the craving is fish or oranges, or beef, or yogurt, and it matches the development that is happening for baby, then we can say, yes! But the real question that I want to help answer is how do you manage a balance?
A Short, but Sweet Guide to Managing Cravings:
Eat-Do it. Skipping meals increases your susceptibility to over-consume. Try for small meals throughout the day. If that is not your style? No problem, you can do three meals, but be sure that your plate looks mostly like veggies, protein, and healthy fat. Limit grains and dairy.
Drink-Water that is. We often mistake hunger-pangs for dehydration. When you're pregnant, try for 1/2 your growing body weight in clear fluid ounces daily. Herbal tea, and sparkling water (without sodium counts). Breastfeeding? You have some drinking to do m'dear. The goal is your full body weight in clear fluid ounces daily. Why so much? Breastmilk is 90% water.
Protein and Fat First. Carbohydrates are a quick burning source of energy. Your body is no dummy, it knows that a cracker, slice of bread, or cookie will quickly do the trick, however, soon after that short burst, you will feel even more famished (and full of cravings). This is when emergency eating starts. Handfuls of nuts, scoops of avocado, olive oil in your eggs, bites of yogurt, are all quick, easy, and long-lasting, and will help curb emergency eating.
Combine it. Cravings are not just about a single flavor, like salty or sweet, they are much more complex than that. Doesn't a salted caramel, chocolate ice cream sundae sound better than just chocolate, or just caramel? Yes! It's because, when you combine flavors, with texture, then that's when complexity of food comes alive. Match your craving, by assessing a few things first. Salty, spicy, or sweet? Creamy or crunchy? Soft or hard? Once you determine your combination, then we can come up with an answer (and often a healthier one than an ice cream sundae!). It would be so awesome if we had a wheel in our kitchen that we could spin, wouldn't it? This is our version of a spin-the-wheel-craving-choice game.
Creamy? Banana smoothie with yogurt, almond milk, and cocoa nibs, yogurt, hummus, peanut butter, almond butter, avocado. Peanut butter, chocolate almond milk with a banana, blended.
Crunchy? Nuts and seeds, popcorn (air pop it, and add your own brewer's yeast, and small drizzles of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil).
Sweet? Rooibos tea, fruit, veggies, and small amounts of honey or maple syrup, freshly squeezed fruit juice or veggie juice, watermelon/mint smoothie.
Salty? Olives, crab, nuts and seeds, popcorn (air pop it, and add your own brewer's yeast, and small drizzles of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil), cheese, seaweed.
Carbonated? Sparkling water without sodium, add freshly squeezed citrus, or add mint or cucumber.
Who am I kidding--sometimes we still just want a bowl of ice cream. I am here to say if you want a bowl, go for it, but don't feel guilty about it afterwards! There shouldn't be right or wrong/good or bad associated with food. Why? Because the negative emotional response that we have to food can sometimes far outweigh the nutrient composition of the food itself. So, enjoy, but do check in with yourself following the (insert food here) and see how it makes you feel, and know that there really are some foods that make you feel worse! Check in often with your body.
Have a happy and healthy day,
Posted on Jul 23, 2015