Follow Us:
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pregnancy cravings: Healthy eating tips and foods to avoid

The reason behind this unusual craving might be due to hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies or increased sense of smell and taste during pregnancy.

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
September 7, 2021 6:58:44 pm
pregnancy and healthy eating, pregnancy foods to eat, pregnancy foods to avoid, healthy cravings, unhealthy cravings, pregnancy cravings, parenting, indian express newsInstead of eating regular chocolates, opt for dark chocolates when pregnant. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

By Divya R

During pregnancy, eating healthy and in the right amounts can have wonderful effects on the growing foetus. Due to hormonal changes and majorly due to the depletion of a neurotransmitter called Dopamine, pregnant women experience mood swings and depression. This makes an expecting mother eat more or crave feel-good foods, which may lead to extra weight gain and other complications during pregnancy.

PICA is an unusual behaviour by a pregnant woman where she feels like eating something peculiar. This is also called pregnancy cravings. The reason behind this unusual craving might be due to hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies or increased sense of smell and taste during pregnancy. Sometimes pregnant women also crave non-food substances like ice chips, laundry soap, starch, clay, cigarette ash, chalk, antacids, and other substances. These can be very harmful due to toxicity or blockage concerns. So they should be informed of the dangers signs of eating that particular substance.

Pregnancy cravings can start as early as 4-5 weeks of the first trimester and is at its peak during the second trimester, but it can occur anytime during pregnancy. So, this sudden change in the maternal food habits during pregnancy should be monitored well as this will have a greater impact on her health and also on her child’s growth and development.

Healthy eating tips

  • Small frequent meals to avoid sudden feelings of hunger.

  • Ensure your kitchen has healthy snacks.

  • Do not eat according to mood.

  • Always prefer low-calorie, fibre dense and snacks to keep you full for a longer time.

  • Get good sleep as stress leads to hormonal imbalance.

  • Drink a lot of water.

Healthy swaps:

If you crave for

Try eating this


Fruits, dry fruits, dark chocolates


Homemade khakra, unsalted popcorn

Sour cream or Ice cream

Homemade yogurts with fresh fruits or sugar-free sorbet

Salt and salty foods

Healthy herbs

Packed juices and soft drinks

Fresh fruit juices [sugarless], Tender coconut water

Packed pickles

Homemade low fat and low salt pickles




Herbal teas/ jeera water


Craving for non-food substances might lead to many complications like premature birth, spontaneous abortion and neurodevelopmental deficits in the growing fetus. The harmful effects of these substances are sometimes very lethal. Hence, pregnant women need to be educated about the cravings and its effects on both mother and the fetus.

Strictly avoid:

  • Undercooked or raw eggs or foods likely to be made with them, including home-made mousses, ice cream and mayonnaise, etc.

  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish. Eg. shellfish such as Oyster, Lobster, Prawns and seafoods.

  • Certain kinds of fish such as shark, swordfish, tuna and tile fish, king mackerel during pregnancy as they have high levels of methylmercury.

  • Unpasteurised milk or yoghurt / curd made from unpasteurised milk.

  • Avoid eating raw vegetables, fruits, juices, etc. when eating outside, since there is no assurance of quality.

  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited from diet during pregnancy as it affects the baby’s brain development.

  • Tea, coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol inhibit the absorption of iron. So it is best to avoid them and instead have herbal tea, fresh fruit/vegetable juices and water.

(The writer is Senior executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, Kanakapura Road.)

For all the latest Parenting News, download Indian Express App.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Parenting News, download Indian Express App.

  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.