9 Surprisingly Healthy Ways to Satisfy Your Pregnancy Cravings

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Pregnancy cravings are a rite of passage for moms-to-be. They love to talk about food,  tell their family about dipping salty pretzels into orange juice, and hear “Babe, the pizza is on its way.” The biggest problem, however, is that some of the most common pregnancy cravings include junk food, a choice that isn’t great to make 18 times a day. But knowing how to make your pregnancy food cravings healthy can ease that fear of gaining too much weight or developing some tough conditions like gestational diabetes.

Lots of people like to suggest that pregnancy cravings are a way for your body to seek out nutrients it needs, like craving milk means you need more vitamin D, but science hasn’t ever come up with solid evidence to back this up. There are actually so many different theories, that no one really has any idea why we crave food the way we do when we’re pregnant. I simply blame it on the hormones, because they are fault for most pregnancy changes.  But if you’re not craving brussels sprouts, mangoes, or scrambled eggs rich in protein, have no fear. These nine common pregnancy food cravings can all be adapted into something a little more healthy while still satisfying the urge.

1Pickles

For the most part, pickles are a generally OK snack to indulge on. They’re low in calories and are still a cucumber so they’re a great way to increase your fiber. But the sodium intake can be a bit much. To curb back on the salt, try finding a low sodium version of your favorite or make your own jar of crispy dill pickles so you can control the sodium.

2Ice Cream

Mmm, ice cream. Is there anything better? Whether you prefer it plopped atop a waffle cone or served in a banana split, it’s easy to overdo this delicious treat. The easiest way to make this craving healthy is to figure out what you’re really after. Is it the cold, creaminess of the dish? Then try a fruit smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth. You can also try your hand at making some ice cream at home if you’re not ready to substitute the dessert.

3Spicy Food

Although spicy foods can be good for you, it’s easy to take this flavor the wrong way and turn it unhealthy. The trick is to keeping your spicy craving fresh. Instead of fried spicy favorites, try baking jalapeno poppers in the oven. Just keep a bottle of Tums nearby!

4Chocolate

I wanted chocolate everything while I was preggo, but had to simplify my cravings so I wasn’t eating four candy bars for breakfast. Try mixing some chocolate chips into a whole wheat pancake mix or drizzling chocolate over fruit. You’ll satisfy that craving without looking like you broke into the Wonka factory.

5Hot-Dogs

I’m not ashamed to say that my hot dog craving was so real  that I actually ate four while watching a documentary on home births. That’s called dedication, y’all. But those hot dogs weren’t the healthiest thing I could put in my body by a long shot. For one thing, I wasn’t eating an all-beef hot dog and I was also loading the white bun with things like chili and sweet relish. If you’re after a real hot dog, you’ll appreciate the taste, and the health benefits, with fresh toppings like onions, peppers, or jalapenos. Also, choose a whole wheat bun and a natural, all-beef weiner.

6Cereal

A cold bowl of cereal fixes just about everything, but focusing on the sugary favorites of childhood is no good for you. If your craving is steeped from wanting something crunchy and doused in milk, look for a healthier version of your favorites. Instead of Frosted Flakes, try Special K for that same crunch and sweetness. If the chocolate based cereals are your favorite, grab something better for you, like Cheerios, and drop a few chocolate chips in it.

7Potato Chips

Salty and crunchy, potato chips are the absolute best. But this snack is high in calories, fat, and sodium. Again, if you’re looking for the texture and crunch, you can try making your own chips at home. You can up the benefits by using sweet potatoes, as well. If that doesn’t satisfy your urge, try finding a baked potato chip brand at the store that boasts less trans fat than the traditional chip or find an alternative snack, like pretzels, to satisfy your urge to crunch.

8Soda

Phera Laster/ Flickr

Nothing like an ice cold, carbonated soda — unless you’re trying to make healthier choices. With all of the artificial sweeteners and sugar in sodas, it’s no wonder they’re absolutely terrible for you. But you don’t have to give up your fizzy love. If the sweetness and carbonation is your favorite, try mixing some seltzer in with juice to give you that bubbly flavor. But if nothing can be substituted, you can find an all-natural soda company, like Blue Sky, to satisfy your craving without the preservatives or artificial colors.

9Lemons

Lemons are tart and sour, a winning combination, but aren’t great for you when eaten in large quantities or raw thanks to all of that acid. When you can’t get enough of that lemon taste, drop slices in your water or use it to freshen up some of your favorite meals, like risotto. But skip the old trick of sucking on one with a little bit of salt. Your teeth and sodium intake will thank you.

Images:Courtesy of Lee McCoy, Rebecca Siegel, m01229, Mark Fischer, Dominic Lockyer, JeffreyW, J. Annie Wang, Mike Haller, Phera Laster, Liz West/Flickr