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Pregnant women shouldn't indulge in their food cravings, says study

Giving into cravings may do more harm than good, even if you're eating for two!

Food cravings are our bodies way of telling us what it needs. But this doesn't mean that they're always good for us---or, at least that's what a recent study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Appetite, found that the more pregnant women gave in to cravings, the more at risk they are for gaining too much weight they gained throughout their pregnancy.

The more weight they gain, the harder it will be for them to lose it after pregnancy.

"An estimated 50 to 90 percent of women in the U.S. experience food cravings at some point during pregnancy," wrote Natalia Orloff, from the University of Albany in New York, in the study.

cravings photo: Pexels

The study's researchers set off to find a link between pregnancy cravings and weight gain. They began by gathering two groups of pregnant women (43 were invited online; 40 were invited while they were in the hospital). The average age of these women were 30 to 31 years old.

They were asked a series of questions, during each of their trimesters, about how often they craved for certain types of food. These were divided into four categories: sweets, carbohydrates and starches, fast food and high-fat food. They were then asked to reveal how often they indulged in these cravings.

The researches then proceeded to calculate each of the respondent's body mass index (BMI), taking their height and pre-pregnancy weight into account, to determine the appropriate amount of pregnancy weight gain.

More on these interesting findings on the next page 

The most common pregnancy cravings, researchers found, were for fast food and sweets; Chocolate, pizza, ice cream and cookies topped the list.

The more often they experienced each craving, the higher the chance that they would give in it, the research further found.

sweets photo: Pexels

What's most interesting about the findings was that giving into cravings resulted in weight gain for the women in the online group but the same wasn't true for women in the hospital setting.

This discovery was "noteworthy and merits an attempt at explanation," wrote the researchers.

A possible explanation could be that women in the hospital already had a higher weight to begin with.

"Eating for two" must be done with care

These findings suggest that, in order to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy, the frequency of food cravings throughout pregnancy must be kept at bay. Skills and strategies must be put in place to be able to handle refusing to indulge.

It can be challenging, of course; most particularly, it will be difficult for pregnant women seeking comfort food to say "no". One way is to distract yourself with other activities you enjoy. You can also replace certain unhealthy cravings with similar delicious alternatives.

READ: 8 Refreshing and energizing smoothies for pregnancy

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