When I was pregnant I was not eating for two. Oh no, I was eating for the one and only me, and my body was just working hard so it needed some serious sustenance. I can only imagine I am not alone, so when a pregnant woman says she's hungry it means so much more than "dinnertime is approaching." In fact, for me, it usually meant the world might possibly end if I did not eat something right that second.
Being pregnant is the weirdest thing, mostly because the world expects you to carry on with all your regularly scheduled activities — commuting, small talk about the weather, remembering people’s birthdays — while your body is undergoing an incredible transformation in order to create a new person. It was practically unbelievable to me that I had to think about mundane things, like meeting work deadlines, when my mind was fixated on what was going on inside my uterus. Add to this mindf*ck the overwhelming crush of hunger that would usually emerge even after I ate something, and is it any wonder pregnant women seem “forgetful” at times?
When a pregnant woman says she’s hungry she is prioritizing. She is choosing to address the most important aspect to her, and her fetus’, survival. Do not deny pregnant women the right to interrupt car rides, conference calls, or her own baby shower with her demand for food. A girl’s got to eat, and a pregnant woman’s got to eat now. Here is how to decode what it means when a pregnant woman announces she’s hungry:
I never loved to cook, even when I wasn’t pregnant. The way my husband and I have operated since we began living together was to batch cook on the weekends and just work through leftovers on weekdays. I detest meal planning and grocery shopping and especially the need to deal with both when I have a raging appetite and my body is working overtime to grow another person inside me. There was nothing about the idea of making something “from scratch” that enticed me when I was pregnant and hungry. Just give me the food, ready to eat.
I have learned not to be surprised when my kids need to eat every 90 minutes or so. From cluster feedings when they were infants, to spikes in appetite that accompany their growth spurts as children, I accept that my kids are just listening to their bodies, which are telling them to “feed me.”
Pregnancy trained me to understand this is just nature’s way of ensuring we have enough fuel to get us through the next hump of whatever our bodies are going through, and if that means I need to consume a plate of dill pickle spears wrapped in American cheese shortly after polishing off a fully loaded everything bagel, so be it.
I was never that excited to socialize when I was late in my pregnancy. Honestly, I wasn’t very comfortable and, since I abstained from drinking, it wasn’t too fun to be the lone sober person at a group dinner. But the biggest grievance I had about eating while socializing is that I couldn’t do both when I was pregnant. I had a one-track mind, and it was focused on what my big body would be able to comfortably digest and still feel sated. Small talk used too much of the energy I needed to determine if I could get away with spearing the third dumpling from the communal appetizer when I’m sure most folks at the table had only eaten one.
I should have probably signed up for one of those silent, dinner-in-the-dark experiences when I was pregnant, if only so I could focus all my energy on satisfying my hunger.
Sorry, but if you are trying to talk to me while I’m ravenous I won’t hear you. I am too busy plotting my next feeding session, including figuring out important information like where can I get some food and how much of it will I need to quiet the hunger beast raging inside my uterus. I may politely nod at you while you’re saying something, sure, but trust that nothing is getting through to me in this pregnant and hungry state.
When I was hungry during pregnancy, I wasn’t looking forward to my next meal as much as I was literally looking for my next meal. Everyone gets cranky when they’re hungry, but I would go from zero to 60. I never felt “peckish” when I was pregnant. Instead, I was famished and I needed to get food in me immediately.
Unless I was grossed out by what someone else was eating (and that did happen, as my sense of smell and taste were heightened during pregnancy), I probably longed to dig into whatever was on their plate, since I had already cleaned mine. I learned to carry snacks with me, even if I was just going to be away from a food source for a short while. But, like that phenomenon that makes kids think life is always better in someone else’s playroom, everyone’s snacks just looked more delicious than my boring bag of almonds.
My pregnancies brought on a serious food aversion to raw vegetables. Where a huge spinach salad would be my go-to work lunch, it suddenly made me gag, as did raw broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and peppers. If the veggies weren’t cooked, I couldn’t even look at them. I didn’t want bunny food. I wanted a mountain of mashed potatoes.
I usually don't crave sweets when I'm hungry. In fact, when I am in need of some food, I look for protein-dense, satisfying fare. But pregnancy was a food game-changer, and being hungry for sugar was a real thing. So yes, I did buy a bag of candy corn for myself, but it was on the way to the gym,and I didn’t finish it (before I worked out, anyway), so I think this was a totally reasonable indulgence for someone in their second trimester who didn’t have elevated glucose levels (that she knew of).
I love tapas, but I hated it when I was pregnant. Share a bunch of small plates? No thank you. Give me my own meal, and don’t expect me to welcome requests for a bite. That’s like asking someone if they can have a little gas from their car; this food is my fuel and I will be using all of it.
She wants a substantial serving of whatever it is the baby is telling her to eat. In my case, lots of carbs, juicy roast chicken, and whatever’s on your plate that you aren’t going to finish.