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Let’s see, glowing skin from that “pregnancy glow” (check), breasts up a cup size (check), can’t buy shoes from the children’s section now (check), heightened sense of smell (check), feeling nauseous 50 hours a day (check)…yes, we know that’s an exaggeration, but that’s pregnancy for you. Oh, and who can forget not being able to eat what we once loved (check).
Bet you didn’t think that was possible, did you? You may love eating that curry laksa and may enjoy having it multiple times a week, then it all suddenly goes away and even the scent of that concoction of coconut milk, curry, spices, and a few lactogenic ingredients thrown in (oh, yes, there are a few in there. Bonus brownie points to you if you know what they are), can become the bane of your very existence.
Don’t get us wrong, pregnancy and childbirth, the miracle of life and all that, it’s very beautiful and a special experience. While that may be the upside, that very experience can also be its downside. Think of it as a dual-edged sword of sorts in that what makes you happy can also make you simultaneously feel…well…unhappy.
There’s the morning sickness, the constant squishing of your bladder for 8 or 9 months, the water retention, the aches, the soreness, the weird 4am cravings, the irritability, the acne, the sensitivity, the heartburn, basically, if we wanted to list out all of this, we’d be here all day. You get the point.
Today, we’re picking out gripe out of that endless list to get a more in-depth understanding on and see if we are able to help you not only understand it, but hopefully cope with it better. Yes, if you’ve paid attention to our title, it’s all about appetite that’s front and centre in our blog article today!
Why am I suffering from appetite loss? Where has it gone?
Yeesh, no need to shout. We can hear you perfectly well from here. Let’s start with understanding the why in order to understand where it goes.
There are a myriad of reasons why appetites will change during pregnancy, however, most of this can mainly be credited to that spectre looming over us, one that we are all too familiar with – Hormonal changes.
Let’s take a simple cause and effect statement to understand why food aversions occur. The increase in oestrogen and progesterone hormones slows down bowel movement. This is the body’s way to absorb more nutrients for the baby and the pregnant mother. Because of the surge of pregnancy hormones, many pregnant women have food aversions, which is the opposite of cravings.
So, you see, can pregnancy cause food aversions? Yes, extreme food aversions are as common for pregnant women as cravings.
Now, remember what we mentioned earlier about heightened sensitivity to smells? Yes, we know, it’s weird. It’s not unusual for pregnant mummies to suddenly go off their hubby’s cologne or aftershave. That’s just how heightened sensitivity to smells manifests itself.
What’s more extreme when it comes to this sensitivity is when the pregnant mummy smells the aroma of a certain dish and it triggers a gag response which might induce vomiting or, in the absence of throwing up, might put her off that particular food item entirely due to the feeling of wanting to vomit. Yeah, that’s not a pleasant feeling, and understandably why there might be food aversion…which ultimately affects where your food goes (spoiler alert, it doesn’t go into your digestive tract).
This could be a vicious cycle if you don’t understand why things are the way they are as when you’re put off your food, you don’t feel hungry which makes you tired because you don’t have the sustenance to get energy which, in turn, gets reinforced because when you are tired, you don’t really think of food. You might think of a nap, but you won’t think of food all that much. Also, you really won’t want to think of food after your brain reminds you of that feeling of wanting to regurgitate whatever you have already successfully eaten.
Now, at this point, all that’s left is to lather, rinse, and repeat that loop of retching, feeling tired, not wanting to eat, remembering that you need to eat, remember that feeling of step one, and you got a perpetual motion machine of a supermodel’s diet regime, essentially. Oh, don’t worry, we know not all supermodels are like that, we’re just exaggerating for effect.
One more thing – if you’re more of a sedentary person either due to disposition or work or nature, it stands to reason that the fewer calories or energy you spend, the resulting appetite would equally be as little.
Funny thing, while our body needs a certain amount of calories to just keep all processes up and running, it’s actually not all that much in the grand scheme of things. Think of the body as a laptop U-series processor. You know, those CPUs that end with the letter U like the i7-7500U or i3-10110U? Yeah, those can be powerful in a pinch, but don’t really use all that much power to run on idle.
Don’t worry, we know some of you are getting glossy-eyed out there, we’re not turning this into a CPU review article anytime soon. Just using that as an allegory to help preface and illustrate our point.
Basically, when your body knows that it doesn’t need all that much energy to function and run on idle (so to speak), then it won’t burn as many calories because…well, why would it? It’s not as if you’re going to be using up all that energy anytime soon. Now, this non-buring of calories will lead to you feeling hunger less and when you don’t feel hungry, there’s a good chance that you’ll skip meals. Skip too many meals and you’ll feel tired which loops back to that cycle mentioned above about not wanting to eat…now that we think about it, the body isn’t very smart at regulating itself especially with negative feedback. Wonder if God’s going to come up with a patch for that anytime soon…
One more thing. Remember how we said “The increase in oestrogen and progesterone hormones slows down bowel movement”? Well, when peristalsis in the intestine moves slower, add that with the nausea and vomiting, that means you’d have less food in…which also means less food to come out. This could lead to constipation and…well…let’s face it, you won’t feel like feasting when there’s a blockade in your body, now are you?
Tips For Coping with Appetite Changes?
At this point, let’s recap, there’s loss of appetite due to smell/sensitivity to a certain scent. There’s no appetite due to lack of activity. There’s no appetite due to constipation. Then there’s no appetite due to low energy levels.
For this first issue, let’s go with a logical approach. You might want to use this as an excuse to go out and experiment to see what you can actually consume. After all, you need nutrition not just for yourself, but for your baby too. So, instead of issuing a blanket ban of saying no to all foods, perhaps make them smaller portions.
This way, even if you can’t stand that particular dish, it won’t all go to waste. Now that you’re having smaller portions, do consider having more frequent meals. This is to rebalance the caloric intake so that instead of, let’s say, having two full sized meals which will get you 2,500 calories, you eat four smaller meals which still get you 2,500 calories. Win-win!
You know what would make this fun? Having that dish that you’ve always wanted to try, but never did have the time to. Get out there and experiment! As long as it’s not against your doctor’s advice, that is.
Well, there are a few ways to go about handling this one. There’s adequate hydration, fibre intake from fruits and vegetables, and if what we read online is to be believed, a well placed burrito should have you running to the lavatory soon enough…although, for obvious health reasons, we’d recommend you do not subject your little one to such a traumatic experience even before they’re born.
There really isn’t a fun way to deal with this one other than to have you drown your morning cereal in milk and imagine them as your own sims enjoying their holiday in a swimming pool. You really do have to get your fibre and that’s a serious thing. Maybe try throwing in some fruits into a blender and make yourself a smoothie with pulp and all. After all, the skin’s usually where all the nutrition is at.
Well, this should be an easy one. Oh, wait, you’re pregnant. Hang on a second while we scratch out bungee jumping off our list. Basically be more active. Less of that sedentary lifestyle. Go for walks, go window shopping, go jogging if your body and doctor allows, or try yoga (just don’t go too wild on the poses). That last one can be made more fun by bringing your hubby along. It’s always fun to see him try the downward dog.
Low Energy Levels
This one should be easy enough to remedy. You know that one friend you can always count on to hand you a tissue or a piece of candy? Spoiler alert, if you can’t think of anyone like that, then half the battle is already won because it’s you…you’re that person who always has candy or tissues.
Now, all you have to do is go out and get a lot of snacks and have them strategically placed all around your nest home. This is just the first line of defence, mind you, not the be all and end all. The snacks are just to top up on the energy. Oh, be sure to keep healthy snacks. We don’t need you bingeing on chocolates all day, every day. Think of how that’ll affect the baby. That was the fun part…how could it not be fun? Snacks are always fun!
On top of that, couple the snack arsenal with an active lifestyle which brings us back to point 3 – not being sedentary.
Whew, that was a long one, but we’ve finally made it to the home stretch. Remember to practice those points mentioned above and let us know how things turn out for you.
After your pregnancy, if you are still experiencing aversions to certain foods during your confinement, how about we let you know about the most customisable confinement food in Singapore.
It’s mostly Chinese confinement dishes and some fusion cuisine thrown in for wholesome, healthy food during confinement, but the twist is, we allow for the most customisability.
Say that you can’t stand the taste of pork in our pork chops, no issue, we’ll substitute it for you with chicken instead. That way, you’ll be assured you are getting all the nutrients that you require and would be more likely to eat during your confinement to help you recover happily.