What is intuitive eating and why is it important during pregnancy? How do you practice intuitive eating during this season of life? We’ll answer these questions in this blog and give you some of our best tips.
Intuitive eating, or mindful eating, is the practice of learning to pay attention to (and honoring) your body’s natural cues in regards to food.
This means nourishing your body when it’s hungry, noticing and stopping when you’re full, and honoring your cravings.
And when you’re pregnant? All of the above can be especially difficult.
It’s time for some real talk, friends. Pregnancy is hard.
We don’t have to tell you that we live in a culture of constant pressures around food, weight, and body image. We’re constantly being pushed to compare ourselves to one another, when we all know that nothing positive comes out of doing that.
For this reason and others, pregnancy can be an incredibly challenging season. Intuitive eating is a great habit to learn and practice, especially when eating for two. Research shows that intuitive eating can have very positive impacts on a woman’s mental health.
Here are a few ways to start incorporating intuitive eating into your pregnancy journey.
5 Tips For Practicing Intuitive Eating During Pregnancy
1. Make peace with food and your body.
Many of us have experienced a challenging relationship with food at one point or another, and pregnancy can bring this to the forefront and amplify it. Make the decision to stop any negative self talk that may be lurking. The fact is, pregnancy means that you’re going to look, feel, eat, and move differently – and that’s okay! In fact, it’s totally normal. It’s also temporary.
This is a time to embrace the amazing things your body can do, and to fuel it accordingly. Remember, you’re growing another human and that’s an incredible thing.
2. Tend to your cravings.
Pregnancy can make you eat differently than you normally would. Our pregnancies had us stockpiling bagels and vegan cream cheese.
Whatever the case is for you, give yourself unconditional permission to nourish yourself and your baby. Intuitive eating doesn’t involve counting calories or grams of fat, or measuring portion sizes. It’s about listening to what your body is telling you.
Contrary to popular belief, cravings during pregnancy don’t usually mean that you’re deficient in something. They also don’t mean you have to sway from your usual diet if you don’t want to. For example, see our article on pregnancy meat cravings.
3. Respect your hunger and fullness cues.
Be cognizant of what your brain and belly are telling you, and make it simple. When you’re feeling hungry, eat something. When you’re getting full, slow down, take few minutes, and decide if it’s time to stop eating. Pregnancy can be a cycle of ravenous hunger and intense nausea, so be sure to take care of yourself.
Sometimes it can be helpful to have keep healthy snacks available and within easy reach. That being said, we’ll be the first to admit that junk foods often become even more appealing during pregnancy, so don’t feel guilty if that’s how you’re feeling. Feed your body, and let go of any guilt.
4. Quit the comparison game.
This can admittedly be really hard to do. Remember that every woman’s body goes through a unique transformation during pregnancy. Some women start to show almost immediately, while others don’t seem to pop until they’re in their third trimester. Weight gain, both in numbers and how the body carries it, also differs significantly between women.
There’s no one right way to look during pregnancy (or any other time in life), and no reason to compare your pregnancy body to anyone else’s. You’re beautiful and uniquely you!
5. Keep moving.
We’re not talking about training for a race, though pregnancy is like a marathon! Physical movement causes your brain to release endorphins, hormones known for having a calming and pleasant effect. Movement, in any form, can be very therapeutic during pregnancy.
If you enjoy running and feel good continuing, that’s great. If your runs turn into walks, that’s great too. Rather than attributing physical activity to burning calories, focus on how it feels to move your body. Endorphins are a much better motivator than numbers on a scale.
Whatever you’re struggling with during pregnancy, be kind to yourself, mama. This too shall pass.
For more support, get your copy of The Predominantly Plant-Based Pregnancy Guide here!