In last week’s healthy + hapai update I mentioned how out of control both my appetite and cravings have been lately. [That was my nutritional issue two weeks ago, and I’ve since been working through a new one… but we’ll get to that.]
I’ve always had a hearty appetite [and have struggled with binge eating], and I always expected that pregnancy would bring about a whole new experience with food, so the topic isn’t the biggest of surprises. What is surprising to me is that sometimes I simply crave food so much – and everything sounds so good – that I just can’t stop eating. It’s like self control has gone out the window completely.
I want to make sure that I’m honoring my and baby’s needs, giving myself enough calories to make up for teaching Turbo, and giving the baby everything necessary [I believe that cravings are often there because I’m deficient in those nutrients]. But I also want to make sure that I’m taking care of my body in the healthiest manner possible, too.
There are so many unknowns. I’ve never been pregnant before, and I don’t know how much of what I’m experiencing is ‘normal’, so everything here is trial-and-error…
What I do know is that a healthy, balanced diet is vital for my and baby’s health, and that I do my best to get all the nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy. I also know that I have been on a five-or-six-smaller-meals-a-day schedule for years as part of my weight-loss regimen. It worked well for me to have about 300 calories at a time, especially once I started teaching kickboxing classes multiple times a week, because it kept my metabolism burning throughout the day, I always felt satisfied and I never got overly stuffed from meals. On days when I burned more, I ate more, and vice versa. My meals stayed pretty much the same throughout my first trimester, with an added snack in there sometimes when I felt the need for it.
[examples of smaller meals: a few Tbsps hummus + baby carrots or 1/2 serving of oatmeal + protein powder, peanut butter, chia seeds, chopped nuts and coconut flakes – I would split one serving into two meals]
Once the ravenous feeling took over a few weeks ago, my five-or-six small meals somehow turned into an all-day graze-fest. And before I knew it, I was eating foods that had adverse effects on my body just because they looked so good [think dairy yogurt, wheat, chocolate-covered anything, and french fries (??!)]. For me, once I start eating junk I crave it more than ever, so I knew I had to change something up to kick the cravings and get back on track.
Starting last week, I began experimenting with eating three calorically-dense meals with one or two small snacks throughout the day. The goal here was to keep my overall calorie intake the same, but become fuller for longer so that I wasn’t constantly grazing. I figured I’d test out this plan for a week or two and see how or if my cravings were affected.
[examples of larger meals: a two-egg omelet filled with veggies + goat cheese with a papaya or quinoa, stir fried veggies + baked salmon]
After years of eating small meals, I was initially really worried about this change in eating habits, but I’m glad to say that last week went very well! I felt satisfied throughout the day, didn’t have any junk cravings, and didn’t go completely overboard with the calories. When I couldn’t eat the entire meal, I didn’t force it: I just put the leftovers away and allowed myself to eat them later if I got hungry again.
But just as I was getting used to the bigger meals, my body has decided to mix it up again! Starting this past weekend, I’ve started getting full quickly – I’m guessing that as the baby grows, there’s less space for my stomach – which doesn’t work well for the large meals.
And there you have it: the sentence that negates this entire post.
I’m realizing that this whole pregnancy thing is going to entail lots of flexibility and trial and error on my part, in many areas. I am glad that my little meal plan experiment went so well, though [who knows – my stomach might just expand again tomorrow?], and I’m hoping that last week’s clean eats will continue to keep the cravings at bay as I continue to shift with my body’s needs.
With that, I’m off to find something for lunch!
Got any pregnancy nutrition tips for a sister?
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