First Trimester

Q&A: Crazy Pregnancy Cravings?

I am eating pickles straight out of the jar right now. Why do we get these weird cravings? Is it okay to indulge?

Studies show about 90% of expecting women have cravings, particularly in the first trimester. Experts aren’t sure why, but one theory is that your body is simply asking for what it needs. The boost in blood volume increases your need for sodium — hence, you crave pickles. Why the sudden change in food preferences? Blame it on raging hormones, which are messing with your senses of taste and smell. Hunger, restlessness and difficult emotions can intensify cravings, so make sure to eat breakfast, exercise regularly, and ask for support when you need it.

Moderate indulgence is fine (and totally inevitable), but watch your intake of empty calories — especially if they start to replace important nutrients. Here are some healthy alternatives to common junk cravings.

Instead of ice cream
Try sorbet, popsicles, low-fat fro-yo

Instead of donuts, pastries
Try whole grain toast with jam

Instead of cookies, cake, pie
Try angel food cake, graham crackers and peanut butter, low-fat banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread, oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon, low-fat pudding

Instead of candy
Try trail mix

Instead of chocolate
Try low-fat chocolate milk, low-sugar hot cocoa

Instead of chips
Try popcorn (air-popped or light microwave), pretzels, whole grain cereal

By Paula Kashtan