When we speak of food for pregnant women, it is likely that things such as pickles and spicy foods, salty and sweet snacks etc come to mind. This is because pregnant women can have some very strange cravings but this is not all that pregnancy food is about.
Why cravings occur during pregnancy
As with all pregnancy related things, this also owes itself to the hormonal upheaval in the body. There is also the understanding that when the body needs some nutrients these are conveyed in the form of cravings.
For instance a calcium deficiency may mean that a woman wants to have more milk, cheese and yoghurt. Cravings can be an indication of what food for pregnant women is desirable.
The fact that a woman’s sense of taste and touch also changes in pregnancy could also dictate what she feels like eating and what she finds revolting.
Previously favored foods may become anathema, whereas things that were earlier not even considered now find favor. Also strange food combinations may suddenly appeal.
Why you should not give in to all the pregnancy cravings
While an occasional scoop of ice-cream or small bar of chocolate will not cause any harm, there are certain things that should not be part of a pregnancy diet.
Food for pregnant women should include a nutritious and balanced diet and any nutritional supplements that are needed so that the cravings are curbed to a large extent.
In some cases the cravings could actually be harmful: a condition called Pica could make a woman crave inedible things such as dirt, chalk, laundry starch and so on which should certainly not be indulged.
Rather food for pregnant women should consist of regular, balanced meals that include a good breakfast and several smaller meals throughout the day rather than a few large meals.
How you can work around the hankering for sweets/salty snacks and so on
If it is a huge bowl of ice-cream that you crave, try a bowl of unsweetened yoghurt with fresh, chopped fruit in it. This will give you the calcium that your body needs, the complex carbs for sustained energy release form the fruit, beneficial probiotics bacteria from the yoghurt and less of the fat and refined sugar that the ice-cream would have contained.
Experts also recommend making fish oil supplements part of food for pregnant women because they can reduce cravings. It has been seen that when pregnant women started fish or flax seed oil the proportion of essential fatty acids in their diet went up and their cravings decreased.
Similarly a craving for chocolate (probably triggered by lower levels of magnesium) may be address by eating more beans, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Including good quality protein in the food for pregnant women is always a good idea and may be behind the meat craving that some women have. If it is meat fat or marbled steak that a woman desires, try satisfying that desire by having some roast turkey or a portion of smoked salmon which are healthier alternatives.