In the early days of my pregnancy, everything looked like a baguette. Bread was on my brain. Just bread. The carbiest, most filling, bready bread you can think of. Insatiable hunger was my first sign of pregnancy (along with sore boobs), and it was the reason my husband jokingly suggested throwing a pregnancy test into the shopping trolley one day. (The joke did not last long when I realised he had a point.)
If you’ve experienced early pregnancy hunger, you might know what I’m talking about here. But how much does the old adage ‘eating for two’ actually apply when you’re pregnant?
Here’s what you need to know about how to safely satisfy your early pregnancy hunger.
Eat as much as usual
I have bad news for hangry first trimester mamas: you don’t actually have any additional nutritional requirements in the first weeks of pregnancy! Sure, it might feel like a small gremlin is angrily poking at your stomach demanding ALL the food, but experts suggest maintaining normal healthy eating habits in the first trimester.
In the second and third trimesters, it’s a different story. Your macronutrient requirements do increase a bit, by 240 and 452 calories per day respectively (as a rough guide). This equates to a ham sandwich and an orange in your second trimester, or eggs on toast and a banana in the third trimester.
In short, you may feel more hungry in early pregnancy, but you don’t need to eat more. Your pregnant body has become exceptionally efficient and is great at extracting all the goodness from the foods you eat. By feeding it nutrient-dense wholefoods, you’ll fuel its important work of growing a human. And that’s all it needs at this stage!
Quality over quantity
So if you shouldn’t eat MORE, how can you satisfy that persistent hunger? Eating the right things can really help stop your stomach from growling. Eat lots of:
- Lean protein.
It can be tough, but try to limit your intake of sugar, fried foods and refined grains (which sadly rules out a diet of daily deep-fried Mars Bars). While these types of foods can be convenient, quick and cheap (um… not to mention delish), they’ll only increase your hunger and do little to give your body what it actually needs.
Consider this an excellent opportunity to update your eating habits in a healthy way.
Morning sickness or hunger?
Not sure if that feeling in the pit of your stomach is a sign you should rush to the toilet bowl or scoff a bag of popcorn? Pregnancy nausea can feel like a bit of both, or either. The hormones running wild through your body can cause some weird and confusing sensations.
For you, it might be cravings for tomato sauce on pancakes and feeling hangry to the point of despair, OR, it could be a decreased appetite and being unable to stomach much at all.
Tips for satisfying early pregnancy hunger
So we know it’s normal to experience early pregnancy hunger, but we don’t necessarily need to eat much more at this stage of the pregnancy. So what can you do about it? Try these:
- Start the day with a filling and nutritious breakfast, like eggs on wholegrain toast, or fruit and yoghurt.
- Get some protein, fibre and healthy fats into every meal.
- Introduce snacks throughout the day – but try to swap out less healthy choices for more nutrient rich foods (i.e. veggie sticks with hummus instead of salty fried chips, fruit and peanut butter instead of cookies). Your growing babe will thank you for it!
- Keep nutritious snacks on hand to reduce temptations.
- Ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs by asking your doctor about what supplements you need (folic acid, Vitamin D are often recommended during pregnancy)
- If you are a bread fiend (like I was)… opt for wholemeal options, and try and add protein and vegetables to the bread. I’m pretty sure living off bread isn’t ideal.
Mama, you are an amazing creator of life. Take care of yourself right now – your body needs it. And remember, no one is perfect – there are going to be days where you eat aaaall the chips, and that is SO okay. Nourishing your soul is equally important, so find a balance that works for you.