When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start? How Do I Deal With Them?

I could really go for Nutella and a pickle right now.

It’s your first trimester of pregnancy, when suddenly all you can think about is that family size bag of potato chips sitting in the kitchen awaiting your company.

Perhaps it’s the tub of chocolate ice cream in the freezer that is calling your name. Maybe you’ve decided that everything is better with a few dashes of hot sauce.

Chances are that you are not in the running to become the next culinary TV star with your new and uncharted food combinations; instead you are experiencing pregnancy cravings.

When do pregnancy cravings start?

Sometime within the first trimester, at least half to ninety percent of all pregnant women experience food cravings according to Orloff and Hormes. Cravings last throughout the first and second trimester and usually decrease during the third.

Why do I experience cravings?

While we don’t know exactly why women develop cravings, it is thought to be the result of increasing hormones or your body’s need for a certain nutrient it is lacking such as calcium or salt that creates them.

Women’s cravings typically fall into four categories– salty, sweet, spicy, or sour. While craving food is normal, if you ever desire or eat non-food items, talk to your doctor immediately as this is cause for concern for the health of you and your baby.

How do I manage cravings?

Cravings themselves are not necessarily bad things. While you may not be able to completely prevent them, there are some ways you can try to manage them.

First, try to maintain a healthy well balanced diet. Make sure you are taking a prenatal vitamin, as discussed with your doctor since it helps to provide you with nutrients you may not get enough of from your diet.

Just like eating five or six smaller meals in a day might help with morning sickness for some moms, smaller meals also help to maintain your body’s blood sugar levels. Preventing your blood sugar from dropping can keep your body from triggering cravings says Elizabeth Ward on WebMD.

Distract yourself.

Next, you can try to distract yourself from the craving; use physical exercise, like a walk, to get a change of scenery and take your mind off your craving. Smells of food can also help to trigger a craving, so removing yourself from the kitchen might help too.

Finally, when you decide to indulge that craving, remember to use moderation. One glazed, not four, will squelch that craving. If you ate a balanced diet before being pregnant, suddenly indulging in every fatty or sugary food can throw your body for a loop and make you feel unwell.

What if that craving keeps reoccurring? We may all dream of bacon cheeseburgers and candy bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in our hearts, but our brains still tell us that isn’t healthy.

Make healthy substitutions for unhealth cravings.

As suggested by Colette Bouchez on WebMD,  you can try to substitute a healthier option if you are experiencing a craving continuously.

For example, if you are craving potato chips think about what your body might really want. Is it the salt? Could it be the crunch? Then, you can find a healthier alternative, like pretzels or popcorn, that could fulfill that craving. If it is ice cream you want, then consider frozen yogurt.

Are you constantly in the mood for pizza? Put on your chef hat and try making your own at home.

You can use fresh vegetables, whole grain dough, and will be able to control the salt. This is a better alternative to frozen or delivery. Remember, your body is using food to grow a human, so it is important to nourish it properly.

So the next time apples with barbeque sauce is surprisingly appealing to you, you can credit your cravings. In the big picture, cravings are a more enjoyable symptom of pregnancy when compared to nausea, swollen feet, or heartburn.

Since you’re likely to experience them throughout your pregnancy, appreciate this quirk of pregnancy, use moderation when indulging, and laugh with your friends and family at the strange foods your baby makes you crave.

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