Hunger in pregnancy

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Hunger in pregnancy

During the pregnancy there is an increase in caloric needs, which changes from month to month. But there is also an "emotional" hunger, linked to the emotions of the nine months. The important thing is to always ensure the right amount of nutrients to eat properly without overdoing it. As he explains to us Angela , biologist, PhD in experimental and clinical nutrition and food science specialist.

Read also: Nutrition in pregnancy

In this article

  • Because you are hungrier in pregnancy
  • What to eat when pregnant
  • Hunger attacks in pregnancy

Because it increases hunger in pregnancy

Increases hunger because it increases energy needs

From the first months of pregnancy there may be a physiological increase in hunger, linked to a increased energy requirement of the woman. "To tell the truth, in the first quarter the energy requirement increases by only 70 kcal more per day" underlines the nutritionist: "what the woman feels most in this first phase is above all a feeling of tiredness, which is a clear sign of body that needs a slowing down of rhythms rather than a greater intake of food, because it really has a lot of work to do!

Instead, it is in the following months that the caloric intake must increase, because it is the phase in which the fetus grows more: if in the second trimester on average the requirement increases up to 300 kcal per day more than the initial requirement, in the third it grows another 100 calories more. An increase that can increase the feeling of hunger, but which is far from the popular belief that the expectant mother should eat for two! "

And then there is the emotional hunger

An emotional component is also added to increase the feeling of hunger during pregnancy, linked to the various fears and anxieties for all the news that await the future mother and which can induce her to eat more as a compensatory form. "In this sense, the so-called cravings must also probably be interpreted, which according to some theories are the signal that the body sends if it is deficient in some nutrient, but according to others they hide a request for more attention and comfort", Angela points out: "not for nothing to satisfy cravings, we mainly look for carbohydrates, which contain tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin that instills calm and well-being. " 

What to eat when pregnant

A diet of quality as well as quantity

As we have seen, all in all, the calorie requirement in pregnancy does not increase that much and even 3-400 more calories are easily introduced with a few additions. "Rather than focusing attention on calorie intake, the quality of what we eat becomes important in pregnancy" explains the expert: " varied and balanced dietin fact, it not only ensures women the right intake of all nutrients during the week, but also keeps away hunger attacks that lead to robbing the fridge of foods that are not always healthy ".

What to eat to satisfy hunger in pregnancy

A bit of everything'. We could summarize in this way the model of healthy dish that is recommended to pregnant women: because there is no perfect food, which alone provides all the nutrients, but the more varied the diet, the greater the probability of covering nutritional needs. of the woman.

Cereals: better whole. To give energy and satiety, cereals must never be missing at every meal; preferably whole, since they give a very useful supply of fiber in a period in which a physiological reduction of intestinal motility and therefore constipation can be encountered; In addition, whole grains contain precious vitamins for the future mother, such as those of group B, which are lost with refining.

Proteins: not just meat. During pregnancy increases the need for proteins, which are used for the construction of tissues and muscles of the fetus. "A different increase according to the quarters" says the nutritionist: "if in the first quarter, for example, we need only 1 gram more protein per kg of body weight, in the second it goes up to 8 grams, to arrive in the third quarter. 26 grams more, given that we are witnessing the most important phase of fetal growth.

Among protein foods, the consumption of fish should be encouraged, which should be consumed 2-3 times a week, as it is a source of iron and Omega 3, which are anti-inflammatory fatty acids important for the formation of the child's nervous system; 2-3 times a week it is good to consume legumes, useful because they are fat-free, rich in fiber and have a good satiating power; meat should be eaten no more than 2 times a week, because it contains fatty acids, such as arachidonic acid, which is an inflammatory substance; 2 times a week also for eggs.

On the other hand, the consumption of cheeses, which provide saturated fatty acids with an inflammatory action, should be limited, while blue cheeses such as gorgonzola and brie are not recommended due to the risk of contracting Listeria infection; among the meats, if the future mother is not immune to toxoplasmosis, only cooked meats, such as cooked ham and sliced ​​turkey, can be consumed 1-2 times a week ".

Vegetables at will. Vegetables should be present in all meals, both raw and cooked, both for the supply of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and because they give the meal greater complexity, which limits the absorption of sugars and avoids glycemic peaks.

Hunger attacks in pregnancy

How to appease any hunger pangs?

"The best strategy is to pay attention to the distribution of food during the day" advises the, "so that we eat well at every meal and do not create sudden stomach emptyings, which would lead us to throw ourselves headlong into whatever happens. within range (and very often within range there are ready-to-eat and very caloric foods, such as sweets, pizzas or other snacks!). We therefore try to maintain fixed moments in which we eat, even if we are not hungry ". The daily diet must be divided into at least 5 meals:

  •  a good breakfast, for example with milk, rusks, plus a protein food such as walnuts or almonds that improve satiety in the long term;
  •  a mid-morning snack consisting of a packet of crackers plus a piece of parmesan or fruit;
  •  a complete lunch in which to consume cereals, proteins and vegetables;
  •  a snack similar to the morning one, with a yogurt plus fruit or a piece of parmesan with crackers;
  • a varied but light dinner, especially in the final phase of pregnancy, in which gastroesophageal reflux is likely to appear.

If, despite all the precautions, the classic hole in the stomach should arrive, the best hunger-breaker is always made up of vegetables: depending on the season and preferences, you can choose between fennel, cucumber, carrot or other types of vegetables, which fill without increasing calorie intake.  

Reflux in pregnancy

Is there reflux?

It can happen, especially at the end of pregnancy, that the woman suffers from gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn. "The best way to alleviate them is to eat more frequent but less abundant meals during the day" suggests the nutritionist, "avoid overly liquid preparations such as soups, which 'come up' more easily, at dinner, and try to complete the evening meal a couple of days. 'hours before going to bed; in order not to get too hungry for dinner and therefore not gorge yourself too much, you could have two afternoon snacks, one around 16 pm, the other around 18 pm Finally, for dinner it is advisable to insert a little carbohydrates, which regulate gastric acidity and have a 'buffer' effect that prevents unpleasant rising ".

Foods to avoid? Spicy or particularly acidic foods, such as tomatoes, oranges, berries, as well as foods that are too hot or too cold, which can be aggressive on the mucous membrane; better to give up chocolate, coffee and tea as well.

  • pregnancy feeding
  • pregnancy diet
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