Not gonna lie, pregnancy caused a real shakeup in the eating department for me during my first trimester. As someone who is generally a clean eater and happy with green juices and fish with veggies, I found myself nauseated by the sight of my favorite healthful items and instead was clawing for bagels, potato chips and anything else that would stay down.
My mother-in-law advised that I eat food that would “stick to my bones” since it was often only in my stomach for a short period of time (TMI but true!). This happened to be gluten-free (and sometimes gluten full) white pizza, pasta with butter and anything else plain enough (read: CARBS) to not burn my esophagus as it came back up.
I wasn’t jazzed about this newfound diet of mine – mostly because I was worried that I wasn’t getting enough of the proper nutrients for the life growing inside of me – so I subsidized with a few things.
Here is what I added to make sure I got enough nutrients while sick through the first trimester:
1. Bone broth
Bone broth is an excellent way to keep up your nutrient intake when you’re unable to eat or hold food down. I I bought the highest quality grass-fed bone broth I could get my hands on and would drink it multiple times a day, heated up.
Why bone broth? Bones contain an abundance of minerals as well as 17 different amino acids, many of which are found in broth as proteins like collagen and gelatin. Though the exact nutritional content varies based on the bones used, cooking time, and cooking method, the following nutrients are consistently found in most: collagen, gelatin, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, bone marrow, glutamine and glycine.
2 . Ghee
I wanted to make sure I was getting enough good fat, and ghee was an excellent way to get it in by the spoonfuls. I ordered Surya Spa’s Organic Ghee (I think it’s the best tasting) which is made from grass-fed, cultured cow’s butter and had a tablespoon every morning and night. I’d put it on Surya Spa’s Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Almond Banana Walnut bread as a snack (so good and dense with nutrients!).
Why ghee? Ghee is composed primarily of fats, but it also contains significant levels of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as fatty acids CLA and butyric acid.
3. Pre-natal Vitamins
Vitamins are not a replacement for food, but when you’re super sick it’s imperative that at the very least, you’re getting in nutrients that way. I never skipped a day of pre-natals, I was religious about it.
Once the first trimester blues were lifted and I was well on my way into my second trimester, I was not only able to keep down a morning smoothie or my favorite salad from Sweetgreens, but actually craved them. Hallelujah! Once that kicked in, I made a real effort to pack by body with nutrient-dense, super-star producing foods that would benefit the bebe.
I focused on getting enough protein, lots of veggies, the right combination of vitamins, Omega-3’s and all the good fats. Besides being aware of packing in the nutrients I also tried to REALLY listen to my body and give it what it’s craving. This has meant making personal sacrifices. I put my own eating preferences and self imposed dietary restrictions on pause while sharing my body with this little miracle, but truthfully, this sacrifice gives me great joy. It feels like one of the first steps of motherhood: selflessness.
Here are some of the changes I’ve made and the foods I make sure to eat:
If you’ve read this blog long enough, you probably know that I identify with being a flexitarian (more on that here) and don’t eat much meat, if ever at all (we’re talking once every few years). During pregnancy, I shelved my limited meat consumption and joined the carnivores to ensure that I was getting enough protein, grass-fed and organic if possible. Protein is the most important building block for babies’ tissues and cells and I wasn’t willing to compromise that. Plus, it’s a great source of iron which is another pregnancy must. Yes, of course, I could have upped protein from sources like beans and eggs and I tried, but it still wasn’t enough. And honestly, I couldn’t take any more beans. After pregnancy, I will return to not eating meat.
Generally I go through phases of eating and not eating dairy (mostly the latter over the last three years) but during pregnancy, dairy is completely back. Again, it’s because calcium is critical, it’s extremely important for both the skeletal and cellular growth and the suggested amount is about 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Most prenatal vitamins don’t contain the full recommended daily allowance, and while almond milk is a great way to get calcium from a non-dairy source, I’ve found that my body has craved things like yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese, so I give it just that. Organic only.
3. Colorful veggies
I try to make sure I get a solid amount of leafy greens along with bright oranges, yellows and reds all the time, but during pregnancy I’m a bit more strict about it. Leafy greens are high in folate (AKA vitamin B9 or folic acid)—a super-important vitamin for a fetus’ developing a nervous system and spinal cord—and the oranges/reds are packed with Vitamin A which helps with organ development. Spinach, kale, sweet potatoes and carrots are part of my daily rotation.
I limit my fish intake to two to three servings per week because that’s what is recommended due to poisoned oceans and the high mercury content. I stick to low mercury fish and have salmon at least one of those servings for the excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids – which experts believe are wonderful for brain development.
5. Whole foods
Like usual, I’m eating whole foods and nothing processed. I eat 100% organic at home and ideally mostly organic outside of the house although this is much harder to control. I feel like I couldn’t not mention this here because it’s an important one for all mamas to be.
And then, of course, there are the things that I’m avoiding:
1. All the usual no-no’s
Unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized juices, unpasteurized everything, artificial sweeteners like aspartame (no chewing gum included unless it’s natural – I like Simply Gum), sushi/raw fish/raw shellfish, raw meats, packaged lunch meat, nitrates, raw eggs (including caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough, etc.), high mercury fish, smoked fish, sprouts, alcohol, salad bars/buffets, leftovers that sat out too long, etc.
Most doctors will tell you it’s fine to have a cup of coffee a day, but I am personally staying away from it. Personal choice. Coffee does increase the babies heart rate, increases baby’s stress levels and in large quantities, increases chance of miscarriage and stillbirth. It’s also really drying, dehydrating and stagnating.
3. Wellness’y adaptogens & herbs
If you turn over your package of maca there is likely to be a warning about birth defects, and if you own anything from Moon Juice, it suggests to consult with a physician before taking if pregnant or trying to become pregnant. When it comes to wellness, anything that has a warning label, I avoid. And if I’m not sure about it, I skip it. There are plenty of other powerful superfoods to keep up with like chia seeds, flasxeed, goji berries, etc. and all those other crazy, hard-to-pronounce herbs can wait.
4. Foods that are high in mold
Lana and David Asprey (the creator of BulletProof) wrote a book called “The Better Baby Book: How to Have a Healthier, Smarter, Happier Baby” which is full of dietary rules to swear by, which honestly, gave me anxiety. I was lucky to just keep food down let alone do things like avoid carbs, but I read it cover to cover anyway and one of the suggestions was to avoid foods high in mold (think mushrooms, truffles, dried fruits, a handful of condiments) because they can be dangerous to the fetus. This made total sense to me and I stuck with it – except for peanut butter (as my grandfather would joke, I have selective hearing).
And there you have it! I’m now approaching my third trimester and I’m sure things will change, but as of now, there has yet to be a gallon of ice cream eaten in bed. Will keep you posted if that changes – and no judgements if you’re there! Just wanted to share my personal food journey.
What about you, what are your pregnancy eating habits like?