Healthy Craving Alternatives!

Craving pickles and ice cream? Peanut butter on pizza? Neither was I. 

Hollywood is good for sharing images of pregnancy cravings that aren’t so realistic, but the truth is that many expectant moms don’t want any of these crazy combinations.

We work so hard, in mind and body, to get ourselves ready for pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. How we care for ourselves during this time has a big impact on the child we are carrying and our own ability to manage the miraculous task of creating and delivering a human being. But no matter how much we focus on our health, we are going to want things that aren’t so healthy for us.

As Black expectant mothers, we must commit to a healthy pregnancy lifestyle, especially when it comes to the sugar and salt we eat. According to the CDC, we are much more likely to develop Gestational Diabetes than white expectant mothers, and Gestational Diabetes can convert to Type 2 Diabetes that you will need to manage long after delivery. Also, we are more likely to develop Preeclampsia, a complication related to high blood pressure and heart disease.

So, how do we satisfy those cravings while prioritizing our health? It is so important to listen to our bodies and feed our cravings. When we don’t, we may end up eating more of the foods that we were trying to stay away from to begin with. But, it is also important to find the healthy, delicious, and creative alternatives to some of the less than healthy foods our body tells us we – or the baby –  have to have. 

Having options available will help making healthy choices much easier. If you’re anything like I was during my pregnancy, when the craving hit, I was looking for a quick fix. So set aside time when you are not hungry to wash, slice and bag fruit; separate nuts into portions; peel and cut veggies and make servings of salad dressing or dip to quickly grab when you want a snack – now. 

Getting in the habit of preparing portions of healthy foods while you’re pregnant will pay off when you become a new mom. Your limited time and need for healthy alternatives will not go away and if you get it down now, you will be a food prep pro by then!

Sweet Snack Alternatives

I don’t have a sweet tooth – I joke that all my teeth are sweet. I love desserts, gummy candy, and chocolate. But as Black expectant mothers, we have to pay attention to our sugar intake – for us and our unborn child. 

Some sweet options that won’t risk you or your baby’s health:

  • Swap chocolate spread for chocolate hummus. Made from chickpeas, it’s sweet, packed with protein and fiber, and has less sugar than chocolate spread. Dip apple slices or pretzels or spread it on a slice of whole-wheat toast, rice cake or banana.
  • Try carob chips instead of (milk) chocolate chips. While dark chocolate actually has health benefits (look for 70% or higher cacao), it also has caffeine. Try carob chips instead. Beware, they are still packed with sugar, but they are caffeine-free and contain the fiber that milk chocolate does not. 
  • Swap ice cream for greek yogurt or oat milk bars or sorbet, all of which are lower in calories, saturated fat and sugar than ice cream and offer an added punch of protein. They are also gluten-free and easier on the stomach than cow’s milk. Brands to try: Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars, Chloe’s Oatmilk Bars and Talenti’s sorbet.

Salty Snack Alternatives

Forget “sugar and spice,” it was all about sugar and salt for me. Even though we crave it, salt is dangerous for pregnant women of color and there is already a lot of salt hidden in the foods we eat every day. 

Try these healthy(ier) salty snacks:

  • Swap potato chips for veggie chips. You’ll love the salty crunch and put much less saturated and empty fat into your system.
  • Swap salted cashews or peanuts for macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts have many health benefits for your heart and brain, they fight hunger and they’re a great source of healthy fat.
  • Grab a handful of olives. Also rich in healthy fat, they satisfy a salt fix and they’re filling.
  • A bowl of popcorn – made with olive or avocado oil – is a healthy alternative.
  • Find a delicious dressing and dip your (already cut) veggies. Lowfat ranch or Italian dressing will add the salt you crave to the healthy crunch of those nutritious veggies. 

There’s no doubt that we are going to want to treat ourselves while pregnant but focusing on our health is a must. There are many yummy craving alternatives that don’t make us feel like we’re missing out. Remember that we are feeding that growing baby exactly what we are feeding ourselves, and we owe it to both of us to make great choices.