If you’re creating another human it makes sense that you will need extra nutrition to help your little bundle develop some arms, legs, a brain, etc, etc!
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.
In fact in the first trimester, if you are in a healthy weight range and have a moderate exercise routine, your body actually needs no additional calories.
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.
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 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). Research1 has shown that sleep-deprived people tend to crave more junk food. The findings show that insufficient sleep may lead to issues in brain signalling which leads to cravings of foods associated with weight gain.
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.
To learn more about nutrient requirements in pregnancy and how to supplement according to blood test results, you can do this online pregnancy course.
- Greer S, (2014), The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. PubMed. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763921/