For many women, the joy of pregnancy is complicated by feelings surrounding food. Often we find that pregnancy symptoms create a departure from one’s normal eating habits…and it is hard to stick to our plans of “clean eating” to support the baby…or we are told to avoid “dangerous” foods that we usually enjoy. Our feelings of not knowing what is “right” or “wrong” when it comes to eating can easily transpire into feelings of guilt and fear that take away from our ability to fully enjoy the beauty of pregnancy.
Here are a few RD approved tips to help support healthy, stress-free eating during pregnancy.
DROP THE FEAR AND GUILT
First of all, staying healthy during pregnancy does not require perfection. Yes, we want to focus on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and organic proteins the majority of the time, but there will be times where that just doesn’t happen and that is okay! Try to avoid labeling food as “good” vs. “bad” and start to eat foods because they make you feel good. Remember you are not a “bad” person for wanting to enjoy some chocolate at the end of the day.
FIT IN GOOD NUTRITION WHEN YOU CAN
First trimester is a good example of where many women find nausea, food aversions, and fatigue get in the way of their “ideal” prenatal diet. It is important to remember that you are not harming your child if you can only stomach bagels and cream cheese the entire trimester, but I recommend trying to fit in good nutrition when you can. Nutrient-dense smoothies or shakes like mēle which are packed with protein, omega-3 fats, complex carbs and fiber are a great option. Try to experiment with replacing traditional comfort foods with other fiber and protein-rich options like chickpea pasta, sweet potato toast, and almond flour tortillas.
GET PLEASURE OUT OF THE FOOD YOU ARE EATING
If eating a salad with grilled chicken no longer sounds appealing to you, don’t feel pressured to eat it simply because it is “healthy” for you. Find good-for-you alternatives that you enjoy. For example, great protein-rich alternatives include lentils, chickpeas, organic greek yogurt or protein powders made from pea, brown rice or organic grass-fed whey. Additionally, there are many foods that we are told to avoid during pregnancy because they are “dangerous” and this fear of eating a “forbidden food” can cause a great deal of stress. Generally speaking, the research shows that coffee (~2 cups per day), high-quality sushi, and soft-cooked eggs pose no additional risk during pregnancy. eneral food safety is important and there are certain foods that the research shows you should definitely avoid (raw milk/cheese, raw meat/beef, deli meats, etc). At the end of the day be smart and do what makes you feel comfortable.
GET INTUITIVE WITH YOUR HUNGER AND SATIATY
You do need extra food during pregnancy, but remember you are not really eating for two. In terms of actual calorie needs during pregnancy, we really only need an extra ~340 and 450 calories per day in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, respectively. Try to make those extra calories count! Opt for 1-2 extra nutrient-dense snacks per day (mēle shakes, ½ avocado on wholegrain toast, greek yogurt parfait or hummus and veggie wrap). If you are craving something more indulgent, honor your craving, but try to keep indulgent treats like ice cream or cookies to a single serving (~150-200 calories). Check-in with yourself after you eat and ask yourself “how do I feel physically after eating this food” and “would I want to feel like this again?”
About Carlyn Rosenblum MS, RD, MTHR NUTRITION
Carlyn believes that feeling your best starts with good nutrition—but also involves how you think, live and show up for yourself physically and emotionally. Many women today feel out of sync with their bodies—especially when it comes to fertility. Carlyn works to help you uncover the hidden obstacles keeping you from feeling your best and teaches you how to listen and honor your body by focusing on what healthy means to you. Carlyn is a registered dietitian, with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from NYU. She also obtained her CLC certification from the Healthy Children’s Project. Carlyn is the Founder and CEO of MTHR Nutrition a concierge nutrition counseling service for women. Carlyn dedicates her work to supporting women during the preconception, prenatal and postpartum periods, which can often be a confusing and complicated time for nutrition. Carlyn takes a science-based, personalized approach to health. She believes that everyone is different, and nutrition should also take into account those differences.
Carlyn's Words to Live By: Good health goes beyond simply what you eat. It involves how your treat your body, the love you give to yourself, and the mindset in which you choose to live your life every day.