Dealing with pregnancy cravings can be difficult enough on its own, but when you add stress to the mix, resisting them becomes all the more difficult. But don’t worry, preggy mamas, as always, we’ve got your back. Here’s how to deal with those food cravings that have you going ARGH!
Why Does Stress Cause Food Cravings?
Before we get into how you can fight those cravings, let’s first try to understand the science behind why stress causes food cravings.
According to medical experts, when you’re stressed, your body sends out cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone that works with specific parts of our brain to regulate sleep, mood, motivation, and fear, among other things.
Frequent stress raises cortisol levels in the body, and it is this high level that causes unhealthy food cravings. The “how” is a little complex, but to put it simply, cortisol influences appetite and cravings either directly by binding to hypothalamus receptors (appetite regulation) in the brain or indirectly by modulating other hormones in the body and stress response factors known to stimulate appetite.
As a result, you’ll find yourself craving sugary, salty, and fatty foods.
FUN FACT: Chocolates, pickles, cheese, lemons, ice cream, chilli peppers, and peanut butter are some of the most common pregnancy food cravings.
How to Manage Stress-Related Food Cravings?
Don’t worry; we’re not going to give you the whole “don’t be stressed” speech that everyone has probably already given you. We know that pregnancy is a time of many changes, and no matter how excited, ready, or welcoming you are to these changes, there is no running from the stress they bring about.
So, if you happen to be pregnant, stressed, and experiencing cravings, here are some tips on how to deal with them!
Keep a Food Diary
A food diary, also known as a food journal, is a record or log that people keep of their daily meals.
Food diaries are an excellent way to keep track of what and how frequently you eat on a daily basis. They can also help you or your doctor easily identify and correct any unhealthy eating habits or patterns.
A good food diary includes the following:
- What did you eat?
- How much did you eat?
- When did you eat?
- Where did you eat?
- Who did you eat with?
- How did you feel while eating?
- What else did you do while eating?
A food diary can be extremely beneficial when it comes to curbing cravings, but keep in mind that consistency and accuracy are essential. So, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, make it a habit to write detailed accounts of everything you eat immediately after eating.
Shop for Healthy Snacks
It’s natural to feel the urge to snack while waiting for your next meal, whether due to hunger, boredom, or stress. We’ve all been there, so we know what it’s like!
Now, most people (believing that snacks are bad altogether) will tell you how to avoid them entirely, but not us. This is because, despite their bad rap, snacks are actually beneficial for pregnant women as they can provide energy, promote fullness, and even help to prevent overeating. That being said, these only apply to healthy snacks, not the unhealthy sugary or processed snacks that most of us crave.
Examples of healthy snacks include:
- Mixed nuts
- Kale chips
- Greek yoghurt
So, instead of going cold turkey on snacks, simply swap out your unhealthy snacks for these healthier and tastier alternatives the next time you go grocery shopping! This will not only help you avoid unhealthy snack cravings, but it will also help you have a healthier pregnancy.
Maintain a Healthy Diet Plan
A healthy diet plan consists of a well-planned variety of foods and beverages from the seven major nutrient classes: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibres, vitamins, minerals, and water. And as a preggy mama, you’ve probably heard about its benefits for both you and your baby, but did you know it can also help with stress-related cravings during pregnancy?
For starters, a healthy diet plan can promote fullness, primarily through protein- and fibre-rich foods, and when you’re full, even if your favourite chocolate cake or ice cream is staring you down, chances are you won’t eat it.
Then there’s also how the whole thing is pre-planned, which means your mind won’t have to wander off thinking about what to eat. This can eliminate stress, spontaneity, and uncertainty – all of which are said to be triggers for cravings.
Having said that, trying to maintain, let alone plan, a healthy diet with a baby on the way or on hand can be stressful for new mothers, which is why we’re here to help!
ReLacto is an award-winning lactation and recovery meal service provider for all new mothers in Singapore. Our main goal is to assist new mothers in maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet following confinement.
To that end, our lactation menu plan contains over 100 lactation and recovery meals that have all been carefully curated by our in-house dietitian to ensure that every meal is packed with the key ingredients and nutrients new mothers need for lactation and recovery.
Our 28-day lactation meal plan includes daily lunch and dinner meal sets, as well as a complimentary lactation drink – all served warm and delivered straight to your doorstep. To learn more about our extensive and nutritious lactation menu plan, click here. So, mamas, save yourself the trouble early on and book the best lactation meals in Singapore right here!