pregnancy myths

Pregnancy cravings & healthy weight gain

donuts in bed

Before I was pregnant, my biggest perception about pregnancy was that pregnant women got uncontrollable cravings for pizza and ice-cream at all hours of the day. I thought that those cravings would control you for the nine months that you were pregnant and that you had no choice but to give in and eat exactly what you were craving.

What I learnt through my own pregnancy, was that firstly, every woman is different and secondly, you can turn your cravings into healthier options, at least most of the time.

Some women crave pizza and others crave watermelon. Other women, like myself, crave cheese burgers but can't stand the thought of cupcakes (for some reason, anything too sugary made me feel sick).

While I indulged most of my cravings, I always looked to how I could turn them into healthier, more nutritional options when I could.

When I craved cheese burgers, I would order burgers on a whole-wheat bun – or skip the bun if whole-wheat wasn’t available and indulged in a few French fries instead.

When I craved Mac n cheese, I would make my own version using brown rice pasta, and throw as many vegetables in there as I could. I would also use organic cheese.

When I craved something salty, I would buy roasted and salted almonds before reaching for the potato chips.

When I craved chocolate, I would have some raw cacao truffles that I had stored in the fridge or freezer. These cacao truffles are made with ground walnuts so they’re packed with fiber, protein and Omega 3 fatty-acids that will benefit both you and your baby. They’re also sugar-free and naturally sweetened with dates.

So how can you make your cravings healthier?

Can you choose whole-wheat?

Whole-wheat grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat flour, whole-grain oats, barley and faro, have fiber and protein in them so they slow the absorption of glucose (or blood sugar) into your body. This is key to weight management and healthy hormones because a spike in blood sugar means a spike in insulin, which signals your body to store excess glucose as fat.

Can you choose whole-wheat dough for your pizza or whole-wheat bread for your grilled cheese sandwich? Better yet, can you sub in quinoa or buckwheat instead of grains because both quinoa and buckwheat are protein-packed seeds and not grains.

Can you cut the sugar?

Just like excess carbohydrates, excess sugar causes a spike in the hormone insulin and signals your body to go into fat-storage mode.

Can you bake it with half the amount of sugar or make an alternative with natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or dates? Check out my recipe for sugar-free raw cacao truffles for a sweet treat or a mid-afternoon pick me up.

Can you have it with protein?

Protein slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream to prevent a spike in insulin. Protein can also keep you full for longer because it takes your body longer to digest it.

Can you have your pizza with a serving of grilled chicken and veggies on the side? Or a handful of raw almonds or shredded coconut with your serving of ice-cream?

Can you limit the portion size?

If the above options aren’t available, can you limit your portion size so you’re not over-indulging in a pint of ice-cream or a whole pizza to yourself?

There will be days when you will be very hungry during your pregnancy, but filling up on protein, vegetables and whole-grains instead of the empty calories found in processed food, has nutritional benefits for you and your baby.

And if you focus on eating real, nutrient-dense foods the majority of the time, when you do get a craving for something not-as-healthy, you can indulge in a single-serving of it with no worries.

Raw cacao truffles

PROTEIN OMEGA 3 + FIBER

Pregnancy Myth #1: But I'm pregnant, I'm supposed to eat whatever I want!

icecreaminarow

If you’re like me, your idea of what a pregnant woman should eat is probably from what you've seen in the movies and on TV… the pregnant mama chowing down on her third packet of Oreos… or screaming for Doritos and ice cream at 3 o’clock in the morning. It makes us feel like we could, or should be doing exactly that when we're pregnant.

And while you could eat whatever you like during pregnancy, being mindful about what foods you eat during your pregnancy will have payoffs - for both you and your baby.

By no means is pregnancy a time for restrictive eating... your body has additional energy requirements because you are afterall, growing a human being inside of you and that takes a lot of work!

However, it is a time to be intentional about the choices you make when it comes to food.

Real food vs junk food

If you choose to eat real, whole foods most of the time, you’ll get the nutrients your baby and your body needs, without worrying about excessive weight gain during pregnancy and the complications that may bring. 

Real foods allow your body to naturally put on weight where you're biologically programmed to. The beautiful thing about mother nature is that you'll be biologically programmed to lose weight from these places once you've given birth.

On the other hand, junk or processed foods don't contain the nutrients your baby needs so you're left hungry for more - and more susceptible to the cycle of cravings. Someone once told me that if eating junk food before you were pregnant made you put on weight, wouldn’t the same thing happen while you were pregnant? Food for thought...

So, while you can eat whatever you want during pregnancy, not everything is going to benefit your baby’s development - or give your body what it needs to stay healthy and strong after your pregnancy. 

Instead, make healthier choices when you can, and focus on eating real, whole foods that don’t come out of a packet or box. Choose meals with real food ingredients, that you have to put together yourself.

As a quick and easy snack (or breakfast), I love to make whole-wheat toast topped with nut butter, bananas and chia seeds. It's quick to make, satisfying to eat and full of nutrients that'll look after your baby and your body.

bananachianutbuttertoast

BANANA CHIA + NUT BUTTER TOAST 

PROTEIN FIBER OMEGA 3