As your baby grows and develops within your womb, your body has additional nutritional needs. So, it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience an increase in their appetite. Many expectant mothers also find that they develop intense cravings for specific foods during their pregnancy.
The Myth of Craving Only What You Need
Since you are literally eating to support your body’s needs, as well as that of your growing baby, it can be very tempting to give in to those cravings. One common misbelief is that we only develop cravings for specific foods when it can provide something our bodies must need and is apparently missing.
Current research, however, shows that this popular myth is false. According to studies cited in the Special Report The Science of Weight Loss available at Livescience, often times, we eat just as much for the pleasure of the experience as we do in order to gain the nutrients that we need and to feel full.
When we experience intense cravings, this pleasure seeking behavior goes a step further. Since we’ve not taken immediate action to quell these intrusive thoughts, but have focused our attention on them, they consume a greater portion of the neural activity of our brain. This makes it even more difficult to resist, and can make the temptation too much to endure.
Giving into Your Food Cravings has Significant Consequences
Indulging your temptations for treats such as sweets, or processed foods that contain high concentrations of sodium, fats or sugar really is about more than just poor impulse control. According to studies cited in a recent article in the journal Appetite, experiencing food cravings, and giving into them, is associated with excessive weight gain in pregnancy.
Gaining unnecessary weight during your pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of developing complications during the delivery and birth of your child. Expectant mothers that gain too much weight face added risk of developing gestational diabetes during the pregnancy.
Gaining too much weight also makes it more difficult to get back into shape once you’ve given birth. Moms that fail to lose the excessive weight that they gained have increased risk of developing other conditions down the road, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Tips to Reduce Your Cravings and Strengthen Your Resolve
As an expectant mother, there are ways to boost your willpower and defeat your food cravings. Some strategies to try include substituting healthy choices in place of the specific food that you are craving.
For example, snacking on a few frozen grapes, in the place of ice cream, can help you to defeat your need for something cold, or crunchy. Making healthier versions of tempting foods is also a good strategy. One good choice is to make your own pizza and use a whole wheat crust and fresh veggies.
Another strategy is to use distraction and focus your attention on something else. If you are on the go, try playing a quick video game on your smartphone and let the game’s bright images and sounds help you to forget about your craving. Oftentimes, refocusing your attention for just a few minutes is all that you need to increase your willpower.
Final steps to help you defeat those intrusive thoughts include getting more rest and increasing your physical activity level. The next time that you have a craving, just stand up and go for a short walk. You might also seek support and chat with other expectant mothers online about your craving to find the encouragement that you need to strengthen your resolve.