Should I Ignore Hunger Pangs?

Alexandra Powell Allred's picture


Dear Fitness Expert,
I am 8 weeks pregnant and find that I am hungry all the time (or nauseous). I have a good, balanced diet and think that I am eating enough. I do not want to put on more weight during pregnancy than I need to as I tend to gain weight quite easily.

Is is OK to ignore hunger pangs? Or are these a cue that my body needs a bit more? I am normally very active (I ski, run, weight train, swim, cycle, etc.) but have cut down my activity a bit so am worried that this will also contribute to an unhealthy weight gain.


Hello Andrea,
Firstly, congratulations! Yes, your body is going through major changes and an altered appetite or eating pattern is just one. As your body goes through hormonal changes and is required to feed the baby, you will experience an increased appetite. The trick is -- what are you going to do about it?

Unfortunately, too many news programs, magazines and other media outlets emphasize how Hollywood moms are getting pregnant, barely gaining extra body fat. Two weeks after having the baby, the celebrity mom looks fit and fabulous. What we don't know or see is that their managers "feed" pictures of the celebrity moms at certain stages in their pregnancy that OB/GYN's confirm are inaccurate. Why do they do this? Because the idea of a pregnant woman looking "too pregnant" is not appealing and it is feared by Hollywood-ites that the actress will be labeled fat.


Sadly, not only does this send a horrible message to the directors and producers of Hollywood but the everyday Joes and Janes like us.

Now, you sound like you are fit and active person and are probably emotionally strong as well -- the product of being a jock. But its always worth should gain weight and because how you grow through your pregnancy is genetic, you can't promise yourself, "I won't gain more than "x" amount of weight in my entire pregnancy!" Not a good plan.

However, how you respond to your cravings can be controlled and while you are expected to gain weight, you can eat whole wheat bagels, veggies, fruits and healthy proteins -- skip the fast-food cravings, donuts, Twinkies and ice cream.

  1. Read about inner core temperature while working out. This is valuable information that will help you have healthier, safer workouts while pregnant.
  2. Begin a food journal -- include the cravings and be honest! After two weeks, contact a nutritionist with experience with pregnant clients. This is important because you want him or her to understand the need for certain foods, the power of the craving and what tricks can be used to curb cravings. I know, I know...they cost money but it will be worth meeting with a nutritionist, if only once, to understand your nutritional needs. What's a craving that you need and what's just junk/boredom craving?
  3. Don't worry about your cravings. Over 40% of women are anemic and do not even know it. This is usually a manageable condition until they are pregnant. Suddenly, they are light-headed, extremely dizzy or tired and... craving very unusual things. This is their body's way of saying. "I need iron." Many women say they taste metal in their mouth.
  4. Meet with your doctor to discuss your workout program and talk about your weight. Because this is a concern of yours and because we do not know what your medical history is, share your concerns about weight gain with your OB/GYN. But, agree that you don't need to know your weight while pregnant and throw your scale at home out the window. If you are in some jeopardy regarding your weight, your doctor will tell you; otherwise, eat healthily, workout, and grow.

Your baby will take all the nutrients s/he needs from your body. The problem is, this leaves you depleted if you are not properly fed. Far too many women (pregnant) buy into the "I can eat anything while I'm pregnant" routine and find the unhealthy weight gain you are talking about.

Pigging out on fast food and chips all day will leave you nutritionally void and unhappy after the baby is born. But with the right combination of food, you should be able to eat to your heart's content, have that extra boost of energy, be better equipped to fight colds and common illnesses and burn off the fat after baby is born.

Good luck! Bon appetite!
-- Alex