5 Tips To Manage Pregnancy Cravings That Won't Go Away

Relentless food cravings are just one of the joys of pregnancy. Along with food aversions that make you want to gag at the mere sight or mention of certain ingredients, food cravings can completely dominate your mind when you're pregnant. Even if you've never craved peanut butter on a dill pickle before, strange foods and food combinations will suddenly become your go-to snacks.

Pregnancy cravings tend to accompany morning sickness and are usually present by the end of the first trimester, according to Flo. They're extremely common, with between 50% and 90% of people in the U.S. experiencing pregnancy cravings, and are believed to stem from hormonal changes. Cravings may also be your body's way of seeking comfort when it's under considerable physical stress as it grows a new life.

Though pregnancy cravings can come in all shapes, many people experience an uncontrollable desire for junk food, which can lead to the baby developing increased risk for heart disease and allergies (via The Bump). If you find yourself persistently craving foods that just won't leave you alone, there are a few strategies you can employ to manage these cravings.

Give in to your cravings

Unless you're craving alcohol, pregnancy experts advise giving into your cravings so they will stop pestering you (via What to Expect). As long as you are meeting your nutritional needs elsewhere in your diet, it's okay to eat the foods that you're craving, even if they're not considered to be healthy.

Given the potential consequences that over-indulging in junk food can have on a baby, portion control is a particularly useful tip when giving into your pregnancy cravings, per the International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy. For example, if you're craving potato chips, opt for a single serving rather than a family-sized bag.

Eat a balanced diet

One of the best things you can do while pregnant is to eat a balanced diet that gives you all the nutrients and vitamins you need to sustain yourself and your baby. According to WebMD, this is important when you experience cravings because it allows you to satisfy your cravings while still getting the nutrition that you need while you're pregnant.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber will also help you to sustain your energy levels and keep you fuller for longer (via the Mayo Clinic). While this won't necessarily negate hormone-related pregnancy cravings, it can help you to consume less junk food overall.

Eat regular meals

Along with eating a balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs, fitness expert Kayla Itsines recommends eating regularly to help manage your cravings. This can stop your hunger from building up, which can cause you to over-eat when you do give in to your cravings. Aim to eat six smaller meals throughout the day rather than two or three larger meals. WebMD explains that eating regularly can also stop drops in blood sugar, which can exacerbate your cravings and lead you to seek out sugary foods.

Distract yourself

When you've already given into your pregnancy cravings and they still won't budge, distracting yourself may be the answer. Doing things that you enjoy in particular, such as spending time with friends and family, can be great for getting your mind off the food cravings. Similarly, baby brand Mustela recommends doing exercise to distract yourself from persistent food cravings. Even an activity as simple as a short walk can help to redirect your thoughts away from the food you desire.

Prep your food ahead of time

By preparing your food in advance, you'll make it easier for yourself to resist cravings when they hit. If your aim is to eat a healthy and balanced diet, prepare your meals and snacks in advance so you can eat them as soon as you start to feel hungry (via Trogolo Obstetrics and Gynecology). That way, you'll have no time to debate with yourself about whether you should make that salad or whether you should just eat a king-sized chocolate bar for lunch.

Pregnancy cravings are inevitable for many people, but following these tips can help you to manage them in a healthy way when they hit.