Satisfy your pregnancy cravings with healthy snacks instead of rich, fatty foods.
Lily Teo’s cravings for lard laced char kway teow, and prata were so powerful that the first-time pregnant 30-year-old interior designer would get into her car at midnight, still in her pyjamas, and drive off to Geylang or some other 24-hour eatery. “I can’t stop her. She’s like a tiger when she gets into her cravings mood,” admits her husband, Peter, a 34-year-old naval engineer. “The most I can do is drive her to where she needs to go, wait in the car, and watch her buy packets and packets of food. Sometimes she can’t wait for me to get changed and speeds off on her own.”
Food cravings and food aversions (powerful urges to consume or avoid particular foods) are common during pregnancy. The causes aren’t fully understood; changes in the digestive system, hormones and heightened sense of taste and smell have all been suggested. They’re unlikely to have an adverse affect, provided the overall diet is nutritionally balanced. The most common aversions are to alcohol, caffeinated drinks, fatty foods and meats.
Many women crave particular foods during pregnancy. And while a few have been known to pine for broccoli or bananas, most have visions of ice cream, chocolate, and, in Lily’s case, char kway teow and prata, dancing in their heads. If your urge for sugar and fat is just too powerful to resist, go ahead and indulge — occasionally. But think, too, of your growing baby and all the nutrients he needs. For his sake, try to keep your cravings in check.
Research actually shows that snacking in between meals, or even eating four to five smaller meals throughout the day, is better for you than the traditional two or three larger meals. That is, of course, if you are eating nutritious snacks instead of greasy potato chips and sugary drinks. Including snacks or several smaller meals throughout the day is especially a good idea for pregnant women who may be feeling queasy at one point in the day, but feel fine later on. You’ll be more likely to get in a solid batch of nutrients this way.
It’s really a matter of making good snack choices when it’s time for a food break to keep your energy-fueled and the nutrients coming. Power foods are always a good bet because they usually combine high nutrients and lower calories. These could be anything from grains to dairy to fruits and vegetables.
Healthy snack choices start at the grocery store or supermarket. That’s where the decision is made to eat healthy snacks – not at the office, restaurant or on the bus. Keep your fridge and kitchen stocked with healthy foods so you are not tempted at home, and to keep your check on those crazy fatty cravings.
However, you still want to be careful how much of these healthy snacks you eat. This is a snack, remember, not a meal. So buy, cut up or make single servings of any snack food you can. As an added bonus, snacking regularly can help prevent nausea throughout pregnancy. Here are some healthy snack ideas to consider next time you head to the supermarket:
Fruit cup, apple, banana, pear, peach, grapes, plum, orange, Berries, watermelon, raisins, carrots, celery, broccoli, green or red peppers, peanut butter crackers, nuts, whole wheat cereal with skim milk, whole wheat bagel or toast, pure bran muffins, fruit smoothie, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, non-cream vegetable soup, mixed nuts, chicken noodle soup.
Get your husband to cut these up nicely into little snack-size bits or mix-and-match them attractively into salads, desserts, appetisers, smoothies, power juices, vegetable sticks and dips, and so on.
Here are five ways to control your cravings without making yourself feel more deprived than you already do:
Eat breakfast every day. You’ll be less susceptible to mid-morning snack attacks. A winning combination: A glass of calcium-fortified orange juice, yogurt and fresh fruit, and toast with jam.
Exercise regularly. Working out is an excellent way to curb hunger.
Emotional support. The hormonal roller-coaster of pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to mood swings. You may turn to food when what you really need is someone to talk to. Chat with your pregnant colleagues at the office, friends or relatives.
Think small. Try a few spoonfuls of ice cream rather than a whole bowl or one square of chocolate instead of the entire bar.
Substitute healthy items for your cravings. See the list below for a few suggestions.
|Ice cream||Nonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet|
|Can of cola||Mineral water with fruit juice or a squeeze of lime|
|Prata or sweetened pastry||Whole-grain bagel with jam|
|Slice of cake||Low-fat banana-nut bread. If you must have cake, try angel food topped with fresh strawberries.|
|Sugar cereals||Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal topped with brown sugar|
|Potato chips||Low-fat chips, microwave popcorn, pretzels|
|Sour cream||Nonfat sour cream, nonfat plain yoghurt|
|Sundae toppings||Fresh berries or sliced bananas. If you crave crunch, throw on some crispy rice cereal.|
|Canned fruits in sugar syrup||Fresh fruit, unsweetened frozen fruit|
|Chocolate||Fat-free hot cocoa made with nonfat milk. Or make a mix with raisins, dried fruits, nuts, and just a small handful of chocolate chips|
|Cookies||Graham crackers. Add a little peanut butter.|
|Cheesecake or other creamy dessert||Small slices of cheese on whole wheat crackers, low-fat rice or vanilla pudding|
When snacking or handling food pregnant women should be careful not to expose themselves to any risk of food poisoning, which is potentially very dangerous to the unborn baby, especially in the case of listeriosis and toxoplasmosis.
– Always wash your hands before preparing food.
– Keep kitchen surfaces, cooking utensils, tea towels and so on scrupulously – clean.
– Store cooked and ready-to-eat food in separate containers and shelves in the fridge; don’t let juices from raw or thawing meat or fish drip onto other foods.
– Use separate chopping boards for preparing meat or poultry, and fruit and vegetables.
– Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to remove dirt and soil.
– Never eat food that has passed its use-by or expiration date.
– Cook food thoroughly and according to manufacturers’ instructions.
– Cool leftover food quickly and use within 24 hours.
– Wash your hands carefully after touching any animals.