Pregnancy seems to be surrounded by myths and old wives’ tales galore. Whether you’re worried about drinking coffee when you’re pregnant or about eating for two, know that these facts aren’t true. Pregnancy cravings, however, are. What does craving chocolate during pregnancy mean?
Pregnancy cravings and food aversions are well-known and well-researched “side effects” of pregnancy. Whether you’re four or fourteen weeks pregnant, you might notice you’re suddenly reaching for foods you never wanted to eat before. Pickles, prunes, and potatoes are suddenly your everyday reality.
Worry not, though, because pregnancy cravings are completely normal and natural. Women experience a myriad of cravings throughout pregnancy, whether they’re on the smaller or bigger end of the spectrum (when we’re talking about weight). You might not be eating for two, but you are eating for your baby.
With that out of the way, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about craving chocolate during pregnancy. Why are you craving chocolate? What are the dos and don’ts of eating chocolate during pregnancy? Why chocolate out of all other sweets and treats? All that and more down below!
Why am I craving chocolate during pregnancy?
We might as well start by saying that you’re not the only one reaching for a chocolate bar at 3 a.m. when nobody’s watching. Pregnancy cravings are known to hit you when you’re out and about, whether you’re working, going out for a walk, or trying to rest and prepare for the following day.
Now, chocolate might be one of the most common pregnancy cravings we’ve stumbled upon. When you’re expecting a baby, you seem to develop a sweet tooth from the get-go. Whether that’s because you were a fan of chocolate beforehand or because your taste buds changed with pregnancy…
We don’t know that. What we do know, however, might be the fact that almost all pregnancy cravings are somehow connected to hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, your and your baby’s nutritional needs, as well as physiological and cultural expectations.
What’s great about craving chocolate rather than something strange (sand, coal, or even cigarettes) might be the fact that both you and your baby can benefit from an everyday bite or two of chocolate. Chocolate seems to be a completely safe treat you can turn to when you’re craving something sweet.
10 reasons why craving chocolate during pregnancy might not be the worst thing ever
1. A happy Mommy means a happy baby
Starting with one of the best reasons why craving chocolate during pregnancy might not be the worst thing ever. It turns out that chocolate makes the baby as happy as the Mommy!
A study conducted in Finland claims that pregnant women who consume chocolate during pregnancy give birth to happier and healthier babies.
According to the study, researchers selected random mothers with six-month-old babies and asked them about the amount of chocolate consumed during pregnancy. Women who consumed a significant amount of chocolate were happier, too.
2. Chocolate can help manage stress
When you’re expecting a baby, your hormones are all over the place. You might find yourself struggling to get through the day without crying, worrying about everything, and feeling sorry for yourself. You might even feel like you’re doing everything wrong and like you’re failing.
We’re aware of how disheartening that must be, and that’s why you might need a bite or two of chocolate to pick you up when you’re down. Chocolate can help lower your stress levels. Contrary to popular belief, eating dark chocolate daily can significantly reduce the levels of stress.
3. Chocolate can reduce the chances of preeclampsia
Chocolate might not be that bad, after all. Consuming chocolate during pregnancy can reduce the chances of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia refers to a condition where women experience high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and low clotting factors.
Preeclampsia can be dangerous for you and your baby, and that’s why you might be happy to know that a little bit of chocolate here and there might be able to help. You might not be able to substitute your prenatal vitamins with a bar of chocolate, but that’s beside the point. You need chocolate.
4. Chocolate can reduce the chances of miscarriage
We do need to underline that no one remedy can prevent the loss of a baby and that you shouldn’t rely on something as simple as chocolate to get you through your pregnancy. Pregnancy requires you to do your research and do your best to eat well, sleep, rest, and do everything you can to protect your baby.
With that out of the way, though, some studies suggest that women who eat chocolate during pregnancy have a 20% less chance of suffering a miscarriage during the first trimester.
5. Chocolate can lead to better fetal development
Who wouldn’t want that, right? When you’re struggling to contain your pregnancy cravings, you might be happy to know that consuming chocolate during pregnancy might lead to better fetal development.
Why’s that? Cocoa contains flavonoids which are said to improve blood flow and placental function in expectant mothers. What that means is that mothers who consume cocoa during pregnancy are more likely to have a safer pregnancy and an all-around healthier baby.
We’ve already mentioned that consuming chocolate reduces the risk of preeclampsia and that’s another reason why mothers who consume chocolate might have a better pregnancy and birthing experience.
6. Chocolate is a source of vitamins
Whenever someone dares argue with you that you shouldn’t eat chocolate, remind them that chocolate contains vitamins that can be beneficial for you and your baby. Chocolate happens to be a source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, both of which are important in pregnancy.
Vitamin B6 plays a vital role in all sorts of metabolic processes in your body, such as nervous system development and functioning. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is crucial in maintaining the health of your nervous system.
When combined with folic acid, vitamin B12 can help to prevent spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects in your baby, too.
7. Chocolate is a source of minerals
We’re not done, though. Chocolate happens to be an excellent source of iron, calcium, protein, magnesium, and potassium, too – all of which are vital during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, women undergo metabolic and physiological changes to maintain the growth and development of the fetus, and that means that their needs are at an all-time high.
Minerals are important whether or not you’re pregnant, but there’s no denying that pregnant women can benefit from the added iron, calcium, protein, magnesium, and potassium that come with a bite or two of chocolate.
8. Chocolate is packed with antioxidants
We touched upon the fact that chocolate contains chemicals known as flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds that are high in antioxidants which means they’re great at maintaining your and your baby’s health.
Flavonoids can provide you with some seriously powerful health benefits like improving cardiovascular health, strengthening the immune system, and reducing blood pressure. Consuming a flavonoid-rich diet during pregnancy can prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other common illnesses, too.
We do need to mention that dark chocolate contains the highest flavonoid content – milk chocolate contains much less, and white chocolate contains none.
9. Chocolate can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure
Whether or not you’re pregnant, you might want to munch on dark chocolate, anyway. Now that we know that dark chocolate contains flavonoids, polyphenols, and antioxidants, we’re not surprised that consuming dark chocolate can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
On top of that, dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy snack, too. Of course, you need to pay attention to the type and the amount of chocolate you consume – but other than that, you’re good to snack the day away.
10. Chocolate (believe it or not) can help you maintain a healthy weight
We’re not kidding – chocolate can help you maintain a healthy weight, as long as you know what you’re doing. Consuming dark chocolate on the regular might be great for controlling appetite, and we already know that chocolate helps lower your cholesterol count, too.
When you make sure to opt for 70% dark chocolate, control the amount of chocolate you consume, and maintain a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to maintain a healthy weight.
What do I need to consider when stuffing my face with chocolate during pregnancy?
Chocolate might be considered safe to consume during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean that you have the green light to stuff your face with chocolate every day. Moderation is a good general rule, regardless of which pregnancy craving we’re talking about.
What do we mean by that? Chocolate, to begin with, typically comes with sugar and caffeine – neither of which are optimal for your or your baby’s health.
High-sugar diets during pregnancy, for example, have been associated with a higher risk of gestational diabetes, increased gestational weight gain, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. High caffeine intake has been associated with a higher risk of miscarriage.
What’s the right way to go about eating chocolate during pregnancy, though? Opt for high-quality dark chocolate that contains all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we mentioned beforehand, and watch the amount of chocolate you’re consuming. Good luck, Mommy!