By Rachel Neifeld, RD, CDN
Have baked goods gone from just good to gotta-have during your pregnancy? Has your pantry’s cookie supply been slowly diminishing with each trimester? If gummy bears seem to be beckoning with their tiny sugar-coated paws, you’re likely one of the many women dealing with food cravings during pregnancy.
Though eating that extra piece of cake may seem harmless, consuming too many empty calories during pregnancy could cause too much weight gain too fast. Excess intake of refined sugars and subsequent excess weight gain can increase a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes as well as make it more difficult to lose post-pregnancy weight. These problems are especially harmful for women who were overweight before becoming pregnant. Also, by eating more baked goods and candy, a woman is likely displacing other more nutrient-dense foods from her diet which both she and her baby need for optimal health.
With a little creativity and planning, a sweet tooth can provide a great opportunity for a pregnant woman to meet some of her daily vitamin and mineral needs. Use your next sweet craving to your advantage by trying one of the snack ideas below.
- Low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt options can be just as satisfying as full-fat versions with only half the calories. Top with berries, a dusting of antioxidant-rich cocoa powder, or a handful of chopped walnuts and/or almonds for an extra nutrient-boost.
- Cut dates or figs in half and place dark chocolate chips in the centers- pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and indulge in sweet antioxidant bliss.
- Chocolate covered strawberries provide a great dose of vitamin C and heart-healthy flavonoids.
- Combine cinnamon with 4 ounces of fat-free vanilla yogurt to use as a dip for dried apple rings or apricots.
- For a treat that lasts- not to mention provides a great source of potassium- try inserting a popsicle stick into a banana and cover with melted semisweet or dark chocolate. Sprinkle with coconut flakes or crushed nuts and pop into the freezer for a couple of hours.
- Cut an orange into circular slices and top with a mixture of 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. This mixture can also be used to top apple slices or French toast and is perfect for the winter when oranges are in season.
Sweets are ok in moderation but healthier options that provide some valuable nutrition instead of just empty calories are a better choice if sweet cravings strike frequently.