Note: This post originally appeared February 22, 2014, on a blog that was a project for dietetics school. I will be adding posts from that blog in order to consolidate my posts on one site.
Mindful eating, or the practice of listening to the body’s hunger signals, is a great way to enjoy the foods you like in moderation but still gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. Here are five questions to ask yourself when you feel the desire to eat.
1. When did I start feeling hungry?
True hunger comes on gradually. False hunger often strikes very suddenly. If you suddenly have a strong urge to eat and have no other signs of true, physical hunger (see below), wait a bit and see if the feeling passes.
2. How does my stomach feel?
If your stomach is growling or feels empty, and the feeling has come on slowly, you most likely need to eat a small meal or snack. But if you do not feel physical signs of hunger, simply wait until you do.
3. Do I want a specific food, or would I be satisfied by eating a heaping bowl of broccoli?
If you have a sudden urge to eat peanut butter, and only peanut butter will do, then you are most likely just having a craving. If your stomach is empty, then a number of food options will satisfy you. Try a small, healthy meal or snack.
4. Am I feeling tired or emotional?
When my kids are acting up, or when I am feeling tired, I often find myself heading for the kitchen when I am not really hungry. If you are having a hard day, stop and acknowledge your feelings. Think about why you are feeling the way that you are, and consider a non-food solution. If you are tired, try to sneak in a nap. Stressed? Take a short walk outside or write down three things for which you are grateful. Sad? Call a friend.
5. When is the last time I had some water?
Dehydration can lead to some of the same symptoms of hunger. If you think you are hungry but are not sure, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If you are experiencing feelings of physical hunger after, then have a small, healthy meal or snack.
Finally, a couple of words of advice:
1. Mindfulness takes practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have an incident of mindless eating. Just get back on track as soon as you can.
2. Keep a small, healthy snack on hand so that you will always be prepared when physical hunger sets in.
3. You may have occasions in which you are offered food when you are not hungry, such as a piece of birthday cake at a party. If it is a special occasion, have a bite or two and enjoy yourself.
To read more about mindful eating, click here.