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Should you resist pregnancy cravings?

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

I think I can

Everything is going just fine until you are stricken with the idea ... it's a food, something you don't normally eat, but you just have to have it. Or do you? Pregnancy cravings are very strong, even overwhelming cravings for a certain food or foods. When the craving strikes, do you really need to give in?

Pregnant Woman with PieIn the movies, if you are pregnant, you grab a tub of ice cream and a pickle spear and go to town to satisfy your cravings without compromising your health or figure. In the real world, it's unlikely that indulging in cravings like that will leave you with a defined waistline, let alone a healthy pregnancy. Naturally, you want to give your child the best start possible and want to eat the most nutritious foods. But when your hormones conspire to take over your eating habits, can you resist?

Practice makes perfect

Some say that resisting cravings is just a matter of exercising self-control and restraint.

When Jessica Senkyr-Robinette, who pens andshelivedhappily.com, was pregnant with her first child, the long-time vegetarian had a craving that seemed unlikely to her: meat. She managed to resist the urge to indulge throughout her pregnancy. "I stopped eating meat at the age of 12 but there were some things that I liked that were pretty hard to resist so I was pretty used to resisting it by the time I got pregnant," says Jessica.

The power of suggestion

 Some moms are lucky enough to not really experience cravings. That was the case with Rosalie Rung, except for one time when she saw an episode of Friends that featured a meatball sub. "Honestly, I didn't have too many specific cravings aside from the meatball sub 'incident'. But when that one kicked in, I didn't feel like indulging immediately b/c (A) was very late at night and (B) not a 'healthy' food or even one I generally ate much of. So I just kind of blew it off, mentally, but it kept coming back," says Rosalie.

She resisted for as long as she could, but the urge kept coming back. Determined not to give in, Rosalie did indulge ... but in a slightly different food. " I used to love [meatball subs] as a kid, and haven't had one in at least that long. I tried to resist, but couldn't get it out my mind, so settled on a close second: an enormous chicken parm hero....and it was delicious," Rosalie saidx

Try substituting

Substitutions have worked for other moms too.

For vegetarians who crave meat, there are many meatless-replacement foods to help you resist your urges that go against your eating philosophy. From bacon to hot dogs to turkey, there are faux foods ready to conquer your cravings.

However, sometimes, you may be driven to go to the extreme like Jessica was. "I usually just tried to stick with veggie burgers or soy based replacements for the foods that I craved, but one time my craving for a roast beef sandwich was so bad that I made my husband eat one in front of me," Jessica admits. "That probably sounds kind of creepy but for some reason I thought watching him eat it instead of me would help! It didn't help."

If you are craving an unhealthy fried food, you can try substituting a less-fatty baked version (such as oven baked french fries), to indulge without going overboard.

So, should you resist?

Few women actually completely resist pregnancy cravings, since many see cravings as the body's way of letting them know what nutrients baby needs. Nonetheless, it's a personal choice and one that needs to be made with your health and the baby's health in mind. If you do choose to indulge your cravings, the key word is moderation.

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