Got Crazy Food Urges?

Monday, June 22, 2015

women with a bowl of ice cream in front of her

Many women have strong desires for specific foods during pregnancy. The desire for "pickles and ice cream" and other cravings might be caused by changes in nutritional needs during pregnancy.

While most cravings are harmless, some women crave nonfood items such as clay, ice, laundry starch, or cornstarch. This may mean that you are not getting the right amount of a nutrient. Your health care professional can help you if you have these urges.

Even though most cravings are normal, it helps to focus on what foods are good for you. A healthy eating plan for pregnancy includes nutrient-rich foods. Current U.S. dietary guidelines advise eating these foods each day:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or non-dairy soy, almond, rice, or other drinks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Protein from healthy sources, like beans and peas, eggs, lean meats, seafood (8 to 12 ounces per week), and unsalted nuts and seeds

Your baby will have a healthier start in life if you limit salt, solid fats (like butter, lard, and shortening), and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods. And it’s very important for pregnant women to avoid alcohol, smoking, and fish that may have high levels of mercury, like tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

The bottom line: it’s OK to indulge your cravings every now and then, but including lots of healthy foods in your diet will support your baby’s health―and yours too!

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