Sure, you’re hungrier than usual during pregnancy, but keep in mind that you’re actually only eating for one regular-sized person and one really teeny tiny one. So instead of doubling up your intake, stick to your regular diet and add only about 300 calories per day during the last six months. If you’re stumped on what constitutes a normal portion, read on for tips to help you fight the non-essential bulge.
It’s all in your head
Mind over matter. When it comes to portion control, overeating is often the result of thoughtlessness. Be aware of what sorts of foods you surround yourself with and how often you indulge so you can identify when you’re eating too much and what it is that triggers your overindulgences. Warning signals of hunger are tummy growling, hunger pangs and sluggishness, and they usually pop up four to five hours after your last meal. If your body isn’t showing these signs, then it’s safe to say it’s not quite time to snack.
Moods influence intake. Be aware of whether you’re eating extra food to satisfy your stomach or just to occupy your mind. Breakups and hormones are recognized as junk food enablers, but it’s easy to forget that celebrations can become excuses to overeat too. Eat a healthy snack before you attend a party or go out with friends so you’re not tempted to overdo it on the hors d’oeuvres.
Eating is not a race. It takes around 10 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that you’re full. Oftentimes we’ve shoveled so much food down by the 10-minute mark that the signal arrives a bit too late. Need help slowing down? Serve a salad before your main course, eat with your non-dominant hand, or count your chews (for proper digestion, try to squeeze in at least 10 chews per bite) to control consumption.
Trick yourself into eating less
Decorate your plate. Instead of thoughtlessly spooning your meat ’n’ taters onto your dish, discover the power of placement: Cover at least 50 percent of your plate with veggies, leaving just enough room for a single serving of meat and bread. By filling up on produce, you’ll spare yourself the extra carbs and calories that make up the other elements of your meal.
Size matters. Serving sizes on boxes and bags can be confusing (exactly how much is 2 ounces of cheese anyway?), so relate portions to something you know. For example, one 3-ounce serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, and a single cup of rice or potatoes is comparable in size to a tennis ball. Keeping this information in the back of your mind will prevent you from over-serving yourself.
Don’t eat out of the bag. Eating straight from the source almost always means eating more. Since you never see exactly how much you started with, it’s harder to tell how much you’ve actually consumed. When you eat potato chips, for example, place an appropriate serving on a plate; then put the bag out of reach. Also, instead of serving meals “family style” at the table, leave the pots and pans in the kitchen so you’re discouraged from partaking in unnecessary second helpings. Since a second serving would mean having to re-open the bag or walk into the kitchen, you’ll be forced to stop and evaluate if you’re really still hungry.
Drink water. Not only does water aid in digestion, it helps keep energy levels high and hunger low between meals. If you’d rather fill your snack time with something a little more flavorful, try herbal tea or sparkling water, which distracts both your mind and mouth from senseless snacking.
Make the switch to mini meals.We eat out of habit. Breakfast, lunch, then dinner—that’s been the drill since childhood. Why mix it up? Because when we get too hungry midday, it’s easy to overindulge at the next meal. By eating several small meals throughout the day, you’ll maintain your energy and keep munching to a minimum.