Pregnancy = Eating For Two Right?
by Ellen Tattam on Feb 01, 2022
If you’re creating another human it makes sense that you will need extra nutrition to help your little one grow right? Who hasn’t heard the old wives tale that you're 'eating for two' when pregnant?
Well actually, research shows improving your lifestyle and eating habits is much more beneficial. Phew… I mean how terrible would it be to be able to eat for two with no regrets! Jokes aside, your post-pregnancy body, mental health and future bub will love you for eating the right foods in moderation.
Pregnancy cravings can include odd food cravings. This can include for junk food or non-food cravings too. It is important to be in a healthy weight range. Lifestyle and eating habits can be improved with healthy snacks and healthy meals.
Extra calories can impact your post - pregnancy body. However that is ok and is normal and nothing to feel ashamed about! Your body is amazing!
If you are in a healthy weight range and have a moderate exercise routine, your body actually needs no additional calories. This is in the first trimester. Approximately 340 extra calories are needed in the second trimester and around 450 calories extra in the third.
You only need an extra banana smoothie in that last trimester to get the extra calories in. Not a whole 2 hamburgers like the movies make you think.
It might also be reassuring to know this information because so many women experience morning sickness. Experiencing morning sickness can be horrible. Pregnant women that have morning sickness are often very worried about not consuming enough calories.
It is reassuring for them to know that they may be meeting their calorie intake ok. However it is important to still note that morning sickness can still increase the risk of being nutrient deficient!
I’m sure we have all heard of a least one crazy pregnancy craving combo. Vegemite on a chocolate muffin, avocado with strawberry jam, sardines and blueberries on crackers, pickles and jelly? Yes, these are actually real life cravings. There are a number of ideas around why and how super-odd food cravings appear in pregnancy.
The main reason is that hormone changes alter your food cravings. This makes sense because in pregnancy the hormones are quite different to when you’re not pregnant. An old wives tale tells us that savoury cravings equal a boy and sweet cravings equal a girl. If that is the case then I’ve no idea what sardines & blueberries on crackers will equal?!
It can be interesting to experience this and each woman can be unique with their cravings. It's important to not feel ashamed of what you crave - more look at it as something interesting and funny. Hopefully you'll be one of the lucky ones and have cravings for healthy foods! But if not - do not worry too much of course.
It is important to manage cravings as some can be unhealthy, here are some tips to curb your cravings:
- Eat regular, healthy meals to reduce sudden feelings of hunger. This helps to modulate blood sugar levels and stop sugar cravings.
- Keep your pantry stocked with healthy snacks for nibbling in between meals – try nuts, seeds, bliss balls and even homemade popcorn.
- Try not to grocery shop when you are hungry - you tend to throw more junk food in the trolley.
- Get plenty of sleep now, you won’t get much for the next 18 years!! Joking (sort of). Research has shown that sleep-deprived people tend to crave more junk food. The findings show that insufficient sleep may lead to issues in brain signaling! This leads to cravings of foods associated with weight gain.
If you are having lots of cravings - it could also indicate that you diet is lacking nutrient dense foods. Perhaps you need to assess what you are eating and whether the foods you are having are wholefoods. Or whether they are highly processed/nutrient lacking foods. Being nutrient deficient will make you crave food a lot more as your body is trying to meet your nutrient needs.
Interestingly, some women develop cravings for things that are not even food.
Think chalk, dirt, laundry detergent, soap and clay. This condition is called ‘pica’ and could indicate a mineral deficiency. Pica is known to be fairly rare in well-nourished countries such as Australia. See your health care practitioner if you develop any non-food cravings.
It is important that you have access to as much support as you can. If you can see a Naturopath for tailored dietary and lifestyle support to help manage your appetite and cravings - we would highly recommend this. It can help to take some of the stress off you during this time.