We have all heard funny stories about pregnant women waking up in the night with oddball food cravings, but perhaps never gave a thought about the reason behind it. Technically, pregnancy entails dramatic flares of hormones resulting in a surge of hunger and a boost in the sense of taste.

Researchers have also argued since pregnancy means an intensive bodily transformation, a pregnant woman typically craves what the body lacks. For example, if a woman craves something salty it implies the body is experiencing a drop in sodium levels.

Food craving is a common occurrence in pregnancy and the fixations can range from pickles, ice-creams, fried chicken to several bars of chocolate from a specific brand. A study conducted by National Center For Biotechnology (NCBI) in 2014 concluded that 50-90% of pregnant women experience specific food cravings, which emerge from the end of the first trimester and it’s only the tip of the iceberg because the woman has still a long way to pop out her baby.

Going further, no matter how much a pregnant woman desires to indulge in junk food, she can always swap that for healthier alternatives to avoid other pregnancy-related ailments, most predominantly gestational diabetes.

Here are some healthier food alternatives in case you are pining for junk:

Homemade pizza: Make your own pizza at home and give it a healthy twist by loading it up with veggies. You can also consider a protein-packed alternative to use as a topping -- steamed chickpea.

Baked chips: It’s best to beat the salt cravings with homemade baked potato chips or baked tortillas sprinkled with salt and other seasonings of the person’s choice. Kale chips and roasted broccoli can also healthily satisfy the cravings.

Gluten-free donuts: Instead of digging into fried donuts that are of no use other than a momentary sugar rush, baked donuts can be made at home by substituting sugar with mashed bananas. For the glaze, jam or other frostings can be used.

Carrot French fries: Carrot French fries are the single answer to both sugar and salt cravings. The sweetness of the carrots amplifies when the sugar in the carrots caramelizes as the watery flavor dies down. When sprinkled with varied seasonings, carrot French fries taste as good as the potato alternatives at the fast-food joints.

Homemade smoothies: Milkshakes from stores can be satisfying, but it’s smart to turn to a healthier choice — homemade smoothies. Make smoothies using peanut butter, oats, bananas, veggies, apples and spinach to boost the body’s natural defenses.

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