As mentioned in my last blog, my good friend Alex is expecting!! She asked me to give her some advice on pregnancy diet and nutrition. Being that is something that I borderline obsess about, I though it would be a good opportunity to share this letter on my blog. Enjoy!
So you will hear various things from every single pregnant and non-pregnant person about what you can and cannot eat, how much you should eat, and everything in the middle. All I can really say is, do what YOU feel comfortable with. I was a pretty healthy eater pre-pregnancy, so unhealthy do not generally appeal to me (unless it’s homemade…). I will go trimester by trimester, so it’s a little easier to organize. I didn’t really have a pregnancy eating plan or anything, but I did see some characteristics change with each trimester, and had to modify what I ate accordingly.
Things to remember throughout your pregnancy:
– Drink TONS of water. I cannot emphasize this enough. Not only do you live in the hottest state in America, but your body is working twice as hard to function! Your blood volume has already DOUBLED (can you believe it?!) even though you just found out you’re expecting! Drinking a TON of water will help with many symptoms, including headaches, drowsiness/tiredness, nausea, weakness, etc. Not to mention it’s just plain good for you. I recommend, if you don’t have one already, to pick up a water container, whether it’s a cheap jug at the dollar store, or a Starbucks cup. Just carry water with you at all times, and be adamant about drinking it constantly. If you’re not a big water gal, there are a lot of things that you can add to your water to make it a little more drinkable. There are the MIAs now, Crystal Lites, and my personal favorite, lemon/lime slices. I talked to my doctor about water consumption, and you should definitely NOT substitute water for Gatorade or other sports drinks. Yes, they have vitamins and electrolytes, but there are unnecessary sugars and additives in the drinks. There is no substitute for the goodness and hydration that comes from water, so drink up!
– Download a calorie counter on your phone. You should not be aiming to lose weight during pregnancy. Depending on your BMI, which you can find out here or through a dietitian, you may actually need to gain additional weight on top of the normal 25-35 pounds. You can find out what a good weight goal is here . You can track your pregnancy weight according to those guidelines here . You should only be consuming about 300 calories more than what you NORMALLY eat. So, in my case, pre-pregnancy, in order to maintain my body weight, I was supposed to consume about 1500 calories a day. I tried to stay around that for a while during my first trimester, and when I hit my second, I bumped it up to 1800. Check out those resources!
– Listen to your body. Like I mentioned earlier, every woman’s pregnancy is different. You and I have a different build and lifestyle. Try to stick to a healthy exercise and eating regimen, but do what your body tells you to. For myself, my body refused to let me continue vigorous exercise. My whole life, intense workouts have been my method of staying fit. I do not know how to do, “Moderate,” exercise that pregnancy resources will tell you to do, and tend to over-do it. For me, exercising throughout pregnancy was not the way I avoided surplus weight gain; keeping an eye on my diet was (although I did try my best to work out). Some women can run, lift weights, and do Pilates throughout their entire pregnancy. Good for them! However, don’t get too down on yourself if that is something your body is just not okay with.
Alright! Now I’ll get started on my tips per trimester!
1st Trimester (4-13 weeks)
My first trimester was fairly easy. Although I was cursed with, “Morning sickness,” (which you’ll find out can be more like, “All day sickness,”) I thought I handled the nausea and vomiting like a champ. A lot of people have cravings during the first trimester, which I think is where a lot of women go wrong in their pregnancy. They cave into their cravings, thinking, “It’s okay! I’m pregnant!”or, “I’m eating for two!” This starts them off on the path towards destruction in their diets, and end up developing unhealthy eating habits for the rest of their pregnancy. I was lucky enough to not really have any cravings, and had more food aversions. Some things disgusted me: Chicken, salad, fish, and hard candy…all of these were things that I normally liked as a non-pregnant person that I could now not stand the taste or texture of. This was unfortunate considering most of these foods are things that are really good for you, and easy to consume in the workplace. What I ended up doing for a while was eating easy to make foods: SmartOnes/Lean Cuisines, frozen veggies, sandwiches… If you end up going this direction, just watch sodium intake. It’s not going to affect your baby, but it may affect your food consumption, and later on in your pregnancy, water weight. I ate a TON of frozen vegetables, which I think was my saving grace of my first trimester (I ended up losing five pounds instead of gaining any weight).
If you are cursed with the first trimester nausea, ask your doctor for Zofran (or a generic). It was a miracle pill that would make daily living so much more enjoyable by eliminating all wooziness and gag reflexes. The only negative…constipation…
One of the things that people will tell you to stop consuming once you get pregnant is caffeine. Now, I tried this adamantly the first trimester. I narrowed my caffeine down to one drink per day, then down to one every other day. When I got passed that, I was getting frequent headaches, constantly drowsy, and just miserable to be honest. The low caffeine-thing did not last long for me, although I did make it into my second trimester on limiting my intake.
Total weight gain for first trimester: lost 5 pounds
2nd Trimester (14-27 weeks)
My second trimester, eating got easy again. My habits went back to normal, and I tried to really overstock my fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables, organic ingredients, and other various healthy stuff. Still no cravings, so I avoided the sweets and snacks, and consumed (typically only at meal times) well rounded meals. My daily meal usually looked something like:
Breakfast – Whole wheat bagel and reduced cream cheese
Lunch – Chicken wrap with a vegetable/starch
Dinner – Pasta dish with a lot of proteins and vegetables
Working in an office environment really helped me stay on track with my diet, because it is easy to keep a schedule, and pre-package and make my meals. You can find a lot of pregnancy diet resources online. My favorite was here . There are a lot of great, well rounded recipes on that site, as well as other eating resources to follow by (which foods have the highest fiber, calcium, iron, etc.).
During your second trimester, if you can manage, work out. It is when you’ll have the most energy, and least nausea. I tried some Pilates/yoga, walks, swimming, and this website . Babyfit.com had a lot of web videos with easy, quick, at-home work outs that were good for me to fit into my busy busy schedule. Like I said earlier, I’m not one for, “Modest workouts,” so I never really felt that accomplished post-workout, but, something is better than nothing; I knew my body needed it.
Total weight gain for second trimester: (the original first trimester 5 pounds back) plus 8
3rd Trimester (28-40 weeks)
Now that I am in my third trimester, I would say that it has been the most challenging with food. I am CONSTANTLY hungry, and now finally have some cravings. I have started to eat a small breakfast, a morning snack, a medium-large lunch, a small afternoon snack, and a medium-small dinner. It is way more eating then I have ever been comfortable with, as I used to be a Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner girl only (sometimes substitute a coffee for breakfast). Although I am still very fortunate that none of my cravings are too unhealthy (now 31 weeks with no cravings for sweets, junk food, ice cream, etc…), I do tend to go for saltier foods like canned green beans, peanut butter, saltines, and tuna. None of these foods are necessarily bad for me, but they do have higher sodium content. I’ve tried really hard to compensate with upping my water consumption. It has helped a ton! But I do regularly swell up in my ankles and feet, which is pretty normal around this time. I am still eating a ton of fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, and when I eat carbs, I try to find healthier options, like high-fiber wheat bread, or wheat pastas. I do not consume any frozen, premade meals, as they are just WAY too high in the sodium content. My daily meals typically look something like this:
Breakfast – plain wheat cereal with fruit and organic non-fat milk or fiber-wheat toast with natural peanut butter and fruit
Snack – Apple
Lunch – can of green beans with Egg salad sandwhich on fiber-wheat toast (or leftovers from night before…whatever that is)
Snack – Apple or other fruit
Dinner – Pasta with protein, veggies.
Another issue with my third trimester…Exhaustion…it’s back! Hormone levels are spiking again, not to mention I’m carrying an extra 20 pounds around at all times. I am drinking so much caffeine, I had an intervention with myself the other day! I was drinking a coffee in the morning, and 1-2 diet sodas a day, sometimes even another coffee!!! It is not something I am particularly proud of, but I really cannot function past 2pm without a little extra something. All I can recommend if you have this problem is to try and compensate with tons of water (again…I know…).
Total weight gain for third trimester: 10 pounds
-Try to make things yourself if you can. Preparing meals yourself can really cut down on extra calories and sodium intake. Try to avoid fast food if you can (…I know…it’s hard…). Also, try to eat naturally/organic.
-Don’t beat yourself up. If you have that extra slice of pizza or that piece of cake, down get down on yourself about it. Just pick up on the right track tomorrow. Slipping up everyone once in a while is NOT going to make you into some sort of pregnancy fatty. People who tend to gain a huge amount of weight during pregnancy usually have preexisting poor eating habits that were only exacerbated with the onset of fluctuating hormones. Although you are NOT eating for two (if you would normally eat one sub, you do not need two subs!!!), your body is working very, very hard to create another human being! You do need to stay nourished, and an extra few calories aren’t going to kill ya. Let yourself indulge every once in a while to keep your sanity, and…good news! A happy momma means a happy baby! J
I really hope this has been helpful for you. I know I didn’t really give you a step-by-step eating plan for the next 35 weeks of your pregnancy, but I gave you all the advice I could think of. I hope that you can have a healthy, safe, and enjoyable pregnancy. Feel free to ask me any questions, anytime.
Love you girl!