How to manage sugar cravings during your pregnancy
Fitness experts share tips on preventing and managing sugar cravings for a healthier pregnancy.
Cravings during pregnancy are common and while some can be attributed to hormonal changes, persistent sugar cravings may indicate underlying vitamin deficiencies. A sugar craving is an emotional or psychological dependence on sugar or sugary foods to feel better and our bodies release opioids and dopamine when we eat sugar and when a particular behaviour releases an excess amount of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable high, which makes you want to repeat the experience.
Every brain cell is fuelled by sugar, which is also perceived as a reward by your brain that makes you want more of it. The more sugar you consume, the more you reinforce the tip hence, it may be difficult for you to break the habit but it is not impossible. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rohini Patil, MBBS and Nutritionist, suggested the following tips to prevent sugar cravings during your pregnancy -
- Balanced prenatal meals: Prioritise balanced meals rich in proteins, whole grains, fruits, and veggies to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings while nourishing your growing baby.
- Hydration is key: Stay well-hydrated with water to distinguish between true hunger and thirst, helping you avoid unnecessary sugar indulgence.
- Choose nutrient-dense options: Opt for nutrient-dense snacks like Greek yogurt, nuts, or fresh fruit to satisfy sweet cravings in a healthier way.
- Frequent, small meals: Eating regular, smaller meals and snacks helps maintain steady blood sugar levels and prevents intense sugar cravings.
- Protein-packed pregnancy snacks: Keep protein-rich snacks such as lean meats, cheese, or hummus readily available to combat sugar cravings during your pregnancy.
- Mindful treats: Occasionally enjoy small portions of your favourite treats to indulge your sweet tooth in moderation without overindulging.
- Prioritise rest: Ensure you get adequate sleep to manage hormonal fluctuations and reduce stress, which can contribute to sugar cravings during pregnancy.
Bringing her expertise to the same, Culinary Nutritionist Eshanka Wahi, shared her insights on preventing and managing sugar cravings for a healthier pregnancy -
- Understanding the Root Cause: Frequent, uncontrollable sugar cravings during pregnancy may be a signal of a nutritional deficiency. To address this, Eshanka recommends getting blood work done to identify any deficiencies. Proper prenatal care includes monitoring your nutrient levels, ensuring both you and your baby receive the essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy.
- Distinguishing Sugar Cravings from Sweet Cravings: It's crucial to differentiate between sugar cravings and sweet cravings. Sugar cravings often indicate a deficiency in the body, while sweet cravings can be considered normal. If you find yourself longing for sugar, consider increasing your vitamin intake and consulting with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
- Healthy Alternatives: Eshanka suggested a delicious and nutritious alternative to satisfy sweet cravings. Try combining a date with nut butter and berries or a sprinkle of cacao powder. Dates are a natural source of sweetness, providing a quick fix for your sweet tooth without causing a sugar spike. Nut butter and berries add extra nutrients and flavor, making it a satisfying treat for expectant mothers.
- Balanced Diet: Maintaining a balanced diet throughout your pregnancy is essential. Eshanka emphasises the importance of incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your meals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy or dairy alternatives. By ensuring you receive the necessary nutrients, you can reduce the likelihood of intense cravings.
- Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, dehydration can be mistaken for cravings. Before reaching for sugary snacks, drink a glass of water to ensure you are adequately hydrated. Staying hydrated is crucial during pregnancy, as it supports overall health and can help alleviate cravings.
Pregnancy can bring about various cravings but it's essential to pay attention to persistent sugar cravings, as they may indicate an underlying deficiency. Consult with your healthcare provider and consider the experts advice on balancing your diet, identifying the root cause of cravings and satisfying your sweet tooth with healthier alternatives.
By taking proactive steps, you can ensure a smoother and more nutritionally sound pregnancy journey for both you and your baby.