When it comes to your relationship with food, pregnancy can have a somewhat strange and unpredictable effect. From the first trimester where morning sickness can completely put you off your food altogether or leave you eating little and often to keep acid reflux at bay, later stages and trimesters can also bring out some strong or even bizarre pregnancy food cravings and aversions.
A heightened sense of smell, nausea, and that constant metallic taste in the mouth can leave many women feeling completely off their food and struggling to stomach foods that they would normally happily consume. Common food aversions, even to the foods you normally love, are really common, and the most likely foods to develop an aversion to are meat, eggs, onions, or spices.
Changing taste buds and strong surges of pregnancy hormones can also cause you to crave particular food items, bizarre food combinations, or in extreme circumstances, even non-food items such as chalk or dirt! The latter of which is thankfully pretty rare, but could lead to a condition called Pica, and should be discussed with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Whatever your food cravings or aversions may be, it’s important that you don’t always give in to your cravings and look for healthier alternatives in pregnancy, particularly if they are extremely high fat or high salt.
In my personal experience I developed a strong pregnancy food aversion to chicken. I normally LOVED chicken, but the texture and the amount of chewing involved made me feel almost instantly nauseous. When visiting our family for a Sunday roast, I even went and ate in another room! I also had very strong cravings for cod in batter and pancakes with lemon, and even sent my partner out to the shops at 10pm to collect a ham and pineapple pizza – something which may seem strange even at the best of times!
Whatever your food cravings or aversions may be, it’s important that you don’t always give in to your cravings and look for healthier alternatives in pregnancy, particularly if they are extremely high fat or high salt. Here are some tips for maintaining a balanced diet during pregnancy and controlling your sometimes bizarre food choices!
- First, if you are worried about the range of nutrients you are getting from your food, look into taking some pregnancy supplements, particularly those containing vitamin D and folic acid. It’s worth noting that you should avoid taking a general multivitamin, as these can often by high in Vitamin A which is not recommended during pregnancy.
- If you’re craving something sweet, try and opt for dried or fresh fruit instead of chocolate and sweets. If you really do want chocolate, consume in small quantities or try snacking on small cubes of dark chocolate instead. Not only is dark chocolate generally a healthier option, but it is also full of antioxidants too.
- Blood flow increases during pregnancy can make our bodies need more sodium, hence it is really common to get cravings for salty foods such as chips or pretzels. Some healthier options include pickles or olives, which will give you the salty kick you are craving without the same amount of calories or fat!
- Ice cream is a really common pregnancy craving, and there is something really comforting about curling up on the sofa and eating straight from the tub. However, if you feel you are getting a little too acquainted with Ben & Jerry, then stick to frozen yogurts or sorbets instead.
- Spicy foods may be up there on your cravings list, but approach with caution. Curries and chillis whilst lovely at the time you consume them, can trigger heartburn and indigestion making for a very uncomfortable night’s sleep. Scale back on the spice levels or make milder dishes that will do the trick without the negative after effects!
When possible, you should try and maintain a balanced and healthy diet to ensure your baby gets the best nutrients; however, it’s also important to make sure you are eating enough. Not eating enough during pregnancy will make you feel tired and lethargic, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your diet isn’t quite up to its usual standards!