Constantly Hungry

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When you are pregnant, it is normal to feel more hungry than usual. However, eating more than the recommended calories can lead to significant weight gain during pregnancy.

Here we will look at what happens when you 'eat for two and offer solutions to reduce hunger and the risk of piling on the pounds.

Weight Gain in Pregnancy

Of course, it is natural to gain some weight in pregnancy. The extra pounds are distributed between the baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, and the necessary increase in blood volume and stored fat.

The trick is not to gain surplus weight, which will be stored as excess fat and may be more challenging to lose after the delivery of your baby.

It is recommended that a woman of average weight should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy (approximately 11.5 to 15.5kg).

An underweight woman may be expected to gain more than this, whereas a woman who is overweight might be expected to gain just 15 pounds (6.8kg).

Hunger in Pregnancy

An insatiable appetite is common in pregnancy. This is especially true in the second trimester.

During weeks 13 to 26, any morning sickness you might have experienced is likely to have faded, and you may find yourself thinking of little but food. The second trimester is also when cravings commonly appear.

Your increased appetite is due to the extra energy required for your developing baby. However, at this stage, your baby can get the nutrients they need from your usual diet.

Some women find that extreme hunger subsides once they reach the third trimester (final three months of pregnancy). As your baby grows, you may feel like you have less space available in your stomach to eat large quantities anyway.

Ironically, it is not until the third trimester that you need to increase your calorie intake. Even when you reach this stage, the increase should only be equivalent to an extra 200 calories each day.

As one bagel without butter contains around 245 calories, the increased requirement is minimal.

Luckily, there are ways to take control of feelings of hunger to avoid excess weight gain in pregnancy.

Avoiding Excess Weight Gain

A biscuit or chocolate bar is a quick and easy fix when feeling hungrier than usual—however, plenty of healthier ways to keep hunger at bay for longer.

  1. Water

Substituting food for water might sound boring, but sometimes hunger can be a sign of dehydration.

In pregnancy, your circulating blood volume increases by an average of 45%, although it can even double in volume! In an uncomplicated pregnancy, you must ensure you drink at least two liters of water each day, the equivalent of ten 200ml glasses of water, to prevent dehydration.

Rather than reaching for a snack when you feel hungry, try drinking a fresh glass of water and then wait fifteen minutes. If you still feel hungry after this, choose a healthy snack like a banana or a small portion of seeds or nuts.

  1. Keep Snacks Out of Sight

Avoid buying tempting treats like doughnuts, chocolate, or crisps next to the supermarket. If you don't have these items in the cupboard, you're far less likely to make a trip out to buy them when temptation strikes.

Instead, stock the fridge with healthier treats such as low-fat, low-sugar yogurt.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a diet that will do more than fill you up is essential in pregnancy.

Eating protein, high fiber carbohydrates, and healthy fats, including avocado, yogurt, and nuts, will provide far more nutrients than processed foods.

One or two servings of fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables with each meal will also ensure you get various vitamins and minerals.

  1. Eat More Regularly

Before pregnancy, three meals a day might have suited you. However, now you may find the hunger between meals unbearable.

If this rings true, you may find eating five or six smaller meals daily stops you from snacking.

Ensure that the six meals are half the size of your usual main meal. Otherwise, those pounds will creep on.

  1. Keep Track

During pregnancy, so many changes occur in your body that it can be hard to track what is expected.

Regularly weighing yourself may help you gauge whether your weight gain falls within the standard recommendations for pregnancy.

If you notice that the pounds are increasing too quickly, it's time to reign the calories back in.

Similarly, if you are worried about weight gain, you may choose to start keeping track of your calorie intake each day to prevent over-eating.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnancy. It causes high blood sugar levels.

Being overweight can increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes. This is another reason it is essential only to gain healthy weight in pregnancy.

Occasionally, increased hunger in pregnancy can be a sign of gestational diabetes.

When you see your midwife or doctor, they will test your urine for molecules that could indicate diabetes. This is because if you did develop diabetes, a special diet and treatment plan would be needed. It is essential to treat gestational diabetes, as high sugar levels can affect your baby's growth and development.

If you are concerned about excessive hunger, speak to your midwife or doctor immediately.

Final Thoughts

Increased hunger is common during pregnancy. However, very few additional calories are required to support a growing baby in utero.

'Eating for two is likely to lead to unhealthy weight gain. This could leave you with excess pounds to lose after pregnancy and may even increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes.

If you struggle with hunger during pregnancy, the best way forward is to increase your hydration, eat multiple small meals and ensure that you choose nutritious foods over unhealthy snacks.

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