On this continual journey with food and learning your body, comes the second intuitive eating principle: Honor Your Hunger. You’ve likely felt guilt or even shame over your hunger at some point. “Ugh I JUST ate- why am I still hungry?” or “I wish I didn’t have an appetite and could eat as little as they do.”
This is a direct influence of diet culture. Many who try to sell diet culture pills, potions, and solutions are going to tell you hunger is something to “overcome” or “ignore”. “Just chew gum, or drink black coffee instead of eating. Only eat inside this 6 hour window. Are you really hungry or just thirsty?” Sound familiar?
The truth is, hunger is a necessary signal from our bodies that is made to keep us alive, and is especially important during pregnancy as hunger levels may fluctuate. Read on to learn more about honoring your body’s hunger cues with Gestational Diabetes. And be sure to check out our blog post on intuitive eating principle #1: rejecting the diet mentality.
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Honor Your Hunger
Your body wants food! Keeping your body fed with the energy and carbohydrates it needs is so important. If you don’t, you may find yourself binging or overeating at certain times. Once you reach that moment of excessive hunger – all intentions of moderate, conscious and intuitive eating go away. Learning to honor your hunger helps you establish trust and peace with your body and with food.
Trust Your Body to Tell You What and How Much to Eat
If you have spent a lifetime yo-yo dieting or not giving your body the nutrients it needs, then it may be hard to trust your body’s signals. Hunger means your body needs nourishment, while your appetite helps you decide what foods sound good (yes- your preferences do matter!). Trust your body to signal these cues! While this is important in any stage of life, it is most important to honor while pregnant!
Reasons Why Ignoring Hunger is Harmful
If you are continually ignoring your body’s early hunger cues (diet culture often encourages this) you may experience physical symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, irritability or inability to focus or concentrate. Our hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, act on a day-to-day basis, meaning what you ate yesterday doesn’t matter. If you are hungry now, you are hungry now. When you ignore hunger, ghrelin levels continue to rise, leading to a hunger that feels out-of-control (hello binging). So if you’ve ever felt guilty for overeating or like you lacked “willpower”, know that is not the case! Your body is trying to talk to you! When it comes to managing Gestational Diabetes, ignoring hunger can make it more difficult to manage blood sugars and keep baby healthy.
How Honoring Your Hunger is Helpful for Managing Gestational Diabetes
Your body goes through a LOT of changes during pregnancy, over a very short period of time. This is likely the fastest change your body will ever undergo, so it is especially important to ensure that your body is getting adequate nutrition during this time. You may feel more hungry than normal, or find yourself needing more snacks. This is okay! Your body knows what it needs, it’s your job to trust and honor that.
Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re getting enough nutrients:
Eat regularly and aim to create balanced meals! (Protein, carb, fat, fiber)
Always have a balanced breakfast and carry snacks with you! I recommend items like: cheese sticks, trail mix, fruit, hard boiled eggs. This can help you stay nourished and help you avoid reaching for foods you don’t actually want.
Don’t fear carbohydrates! They are still important, even if you have GDM. Carbs with fiber or paired with fat and protein can satisfy your body’s need and desire for carbs while balancing blood sugar. Aren’t sure how to manage carbs, blood sugar, and GDM? I can help.
Questions to Ask Yourself Around Hunger
Hunger and nourishing our bodies are an essential part of life! To practice this Intuitive Eating principle, get comfortable with noticing hunger and ask yourself these questions:
How does my body feel right now? Bring attention to your physical body and sensations. Are you lightheaded, does your stomach hurt, are you feeling tired?
When was the last time you ate? If it’s been more than a few hours, it’s probably time to eat again.
Are you thinking about food all day? This may be a sign that you are restricting or not eating enough.
How do you feel when you start to experience hunger? Guilt? Frustration? This is a sign there may be work to be done with your relationship with food?
How can I prepare now for later hunger? Going into a 3 hour meeting? Have a snack or meal now.
Do I feel confident preparing meals and snacks that are balanced and support blood sugars? What can I learn?
If you’re ready to take a step towards honoring your true hunger and navigate pregnancy nutrition with ease, I’m here to help. Click here to book a free discovery call where we will chat more about you, your journey, and how I can help. And if you’d like to get started with a free resource, check out my FREE gestational diabetes eBook cookbook here.