Can You Eat Ice Cream While Pregnant?

Nothing beats ice cream when thinking of a sweet treat, and with the lactose-free and dairy-free versions, just about anyone can enjoy a good scoop every now and then.

There is something about ice cream that just lights up your senses, which may be rooted in nostalgia since our first taste of ice cream was likely as a happy-go-lucky kid. So when we enjoy ice cream as an adult, our mind brings us right back to our childhood days. In our brains, the reward centers light up when we lose our ourself in nostalgia (via Neurology Live).

However, as an adult, we think more about health (and unfortunately, weight) and too many of us label this purely delightful food as "bad," so we try to stay away from it as much as we can. That's actually an unhealthy practice according to registered dietician Sammy Previte. She writes on her website, Find Food Freedom, "There are no "good" or "bad" foods,," she maintains. "We don't need a special occasion to buy a treat."

That's a comforting thought because ice cream is a food that many of us dream about, especially during pregnancy when those cravings hit

Go ahead and enjoy that cone

It goes without saying that when pregnant you want to do everything you can to support optimal fetal development and a lot of that begins with healthy eating. Pregnancy is a time of changing nutrition needs and it requires extra calories.

According to What to Expect, you'll need an extra 300-350 in your second trimester and by your third trimester, you should eat an additional 450-500 calories a day. Pregnancy is definitely not the time to restrict food (though food restriction is not a healthy practice even when not pregnant). Typically, people allow themselves to indulge a bit more when pregnant, and that's a positive mindset.

Ice cream is not a food that is without benefits. It contains many necessary nutrients, including calcium and phosphorus to build a strong skeletal system; Vitamin B12, which is vital for brain development and in preventing birth defects; and Vitamin C for a healthy immune system (via SFGate).

Ice cream may help curb morning sickness

In the early days of pregnancy when you're feeling nauseated and can't hold down much food, if you can keep down ice cream, you should go for it. In fact, cold foods are thought to help curb morning sickness because they produce less strong scents which can stir up nausea (via Parents). When you heat up or cook food, that creates a more pungent aroma and that can cause your gag reflex to work overtime.

One study in the Journal of Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology & Infertility actually found a correlation between eating vanilla ice cream and lessening the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition that causes extreme nausea and vomiting.

Once morning sickness is over and your appetite is back, when you have an urge to eat ice cream, go right ahead. Just remember the old saying about everything in moderation is true. While you can, and should, certainly indulge in an ice cream pregnancy craving as you like, it should never replace a meal. Ice cream should be an extra added treat alongside regular nutritionally dense meals.