While some pregnant women struggle with nausea and absolutely despise the thought of eating, others are battling those hunger pains that keep you up at night. Many women often mistake pregnancy as an excuse for consuming massive amounts of sweets and junk food in general, which can have implications on your ability to lose weight after pregnancy. Consuming food itself is not a dangerous act for you and your baby, however binging is and it will get you into trouble in the long run.
What type of trouble am I talking about? Well if you binge and put on that excess weight (which is very easy to do while pregnant) you will feel slow and heavy, your legs will swell, and you will have an insurmountable amount of physical pain caused by sciatica. First let me begin by explaining this phenomenon.
What Causes Hunger During Prengancy; Specifically in the Second Trimester
If you’re one of the unlucky ones, during your first trimester you will have a subsiding morning sickness that will last throughout until you are transitioning to your second trimester. Around week 17 however, you will notice that your morning sickness is all gone and these hunger cramps start to take over you. What is the reason for this? Well, this is actually a healthy sign that your baby is growing and that your body is asking you for more nutrition. Another reason for these constant hunger pangs is that you might have lost some weight in your first trimester that is directly related to the aforementioned nausea. Because of this, your body is trying to play catch up in a way, which ultimately renders you to crave for a higher amount of caloric intake per day.
Now while this may seem great to some, most women make a mistake here and start binging. This is the wrong way to do not just this but anything in life, so instead you need to get used to managing hunger during pregnancy the right way. What is the right way you ask? It basically revolves around making smart decisions on what you choose to eat so that you can remain healthy throughout those 9 months.
Steps to treat your constant hunger during pregnancy in a healthier way
The first step and perhaps the most difficult for some of you is to completely avoid junk food. This advice has already become kind of like a broken record player, but it is that important. The fact is that these junk food has no nutritional benefit whatsoever and instead will only complicate things for you immensely. This type of high sugar food is digested quickly and only augments your hunger pangs throughout the day. Instead, try the following:
- Eat soups and salads: Soups and salads are nutritious and low in saturated fats and sugar. The best types of soups are homemade and the best type of salads are full of veggies and fruits with a minimal amount of dressing. If you love dressing, choose virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar for a healthy alternative.
- Drink plenty of water: Hydration is obviously very important for us, even more so during pregnancy. The one great thing however is that it can also curb your hunger and make you feel more sated throughout the day.
- Choose foods that are more saturated:
1. Grapefruit and oranges are rich in fiber and give you a feeling of satiety.
2. Whole-grain bread is not just healthier but it also makes you fuller than white bread.
3. Start your day with protein. Hard boiled eggs are a decent choice for breakfast. They are rich in protein and low in calories. For vegans, oatmeal with flax seed is a solid and high protein choice.
- Carry healthy snacks with you: To cope with hunger when you are not at home, it is best to take with you healthy snacks like almonds and berries to avoid purchasing junk food.
- Do not skip on fats: This is a common misconception but fats are actually a very important part of your diet. You just need to select right ones. When we consume fats, levels of the hormone known as leptin increase. A lack of this hormone causes a sensation of hunger. Avoid saturated and hydrogenated fats that are found in packaged foods, for example in chips. Consume monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 acids. These healthy fat choices include avocados, olives, cold-water fish (salmon, sardines, and shad), and anything with soy, sunflower, and flax seed oils.
How to eat less and still get full
There are definitely some tactics and tricks that you can use to avoid overeating and getting an adequate amount of nutrition with a minuscule amount of food consumed:
- Chew longer and eat slowly: The brain takes around 20 minutes to receive a signal of feeling satiety. This is the main reason why people overeat and feel so full and sick afterwards. Instead, eat foods more slowly or choose options that require a lot of chewing like lettuce and cabbage.
- Split portions in half: Eat several small meals a day instead of 3 large ones. In addition, serve them in small plates as a mental mind trick. The appearance of a full plate makes your brain think you are hungrier than you actually are, so use a small plate instead!
- Slow hunger by improving your sleep: Sleep is vital during pregnancy. If hunger wakes you up while you’re asleep, eat foods rich in tryptophan. It increases the levels of serotonin and melatonin in the body; the ones that are responsible for regulating sleep. Turkey, chicken, banana, mango, fish, eggs, legumes, and peanuts are food that are rich in tryptophan.
- Engage in a hobby: Your mind will be occupied with something else instead of thinking about food all the time. Make something for your future baby, create a pregnancy diary, or start building some puzzles. These soothing hobbies will relax you and your brain and avoid food binging.
- Take A Walk: Walks have been proven to help some women to deal with those intense food cravings. Sometimes, all you need is some fresh air to get your mind off food!
Just because you are pregnant does not mean you should eat for two! Pregnant women should consume a bit more than the normal daily value, at about 2200-2900 calories per day. That’s nowhere near the 4000 that some women eat during pregnancy! Curb that dragon’s appetite and you will have a much healthier and smoother pregnancy and post pregnancy.