To the many pregnant women I counselled over the years, please accept my apologies for presuming that my advice could help you control your cravings. As a nutritionist, I believed there were certain principles that applied to pregnant women to prevent cravings. Frequently I hear from colleagues (and have said myself) that a healthy, balanced body will not crave any unhealthy foods, even during pregnancy. As is the case at any stage of life, cravings are an indication of imbalance or deficiency, right? So being the know-it-all that I am and having what I thought was a healthy, balanced body, upon discovering that I was pregnant, I purchased a fabulous new juicer and planned out my menus for the first trimester.
This is what I learned: When you’re pregnant, your body wants what it wants. Pregnancy cravings are much more than a hankering for something sweet. My cravings were so powerful I was absolutely helpless against them. Thankfully in my case, it was fruit I hungered after during the first trimester, and I mean, lots of it. A pineapple a day, a pint of blueberries, a snack of four apples... Then it was bread and cereal, and in the third trimester, while there were no cravings, my appetite was huge (and corresponded with the mad growth going on inside my belly).
In my head, I wanted to eat vegetables and drink fresh-pressed juices, but my body wouldn’t have it. The brand new juicer was banished to the back of the closet. The very sight of it turned (and often emptied) my stomach. I tried to eat vegetables – every day, in fact, but minutes later, I was looking for the closest receptacle to vomit in.
One of my nutrition students ate at McDonald’s every single day of her first trimester. She obviously knew better and fought it, at least for a little while, but like I said, the body wants what it wants.
I found it especially amusing when a male colleague gave me his two cents about how to control my cravings. His advice began with, “It’s simple.” Sorry guys, you’ll just never understand the power of pregnancy cravings. They are a force to be reckoned with.
Whether it’s salty or sweet, starchy or meat, no one really knows what causes food cravings during pregnancy. Ladies, do your best to muster up some self control, try not to be too hard on yourself, and don’t feel guilty when the experts tell you that you’re doing something wrong. Eat as well as you can despite the urges, and as soon as your body allows, return to the best diet you could possibly eat during this critical time.