I am so excited to be talking about the following topic: diet within pregnancy and changes that are different from my diet pre and post pregnancy. From the feedback I received from many, diet was a huge request along with running during pregnancy. I will definitely be talking about running in my upcoming posts but today is all about diet and what has worked for me. I will also be doing a completely separate post on my first trimester because it is a bit of a different ball game than the rest of the pregnancy (in terms of nutrition, emotions, and activity).
I believe it is pretty ideal if you do not have to make too many changes to your diet or activity or lifestyle when it comes to pregnancy. That being said, I think it is an extremely good idea to take some time to reflect (and write down or even journal for a month) your current routine, lifestyle and diet. Eric and I did this before our first son. It is actually a very fun project and a great learning experience if you have never done a food journal or activity journal before. And then it makes it really easy to decide what you would like to change, or what you know you need to change, if anything. If you have some habits that you know are really unhealthy for you, these are important considerations when it comes to deciding if you want to try and get pregnant. And having everything written down is a concrete way of acknowledging and bringing to attention any areas of concern.
This time around, I was pretty aware of everything before getting pregnant again but there were a few changes I made when it came to diet and exercise. Our lifestyle is already very simple. We allow for as much time outdoors as possible, Eric and I both have a passion for exercise (yoga and running for me, cycling and hockey for Eric), we eat almost all our meals at home and financially we like to put our money toward experiences more than anything (bike and running races included along with trips to outdoor national parks and hiking spots:). And we do with intention, spend money on quality food that we know will help fuel our bodies well. I believe that nutrition should be number one priority when it comes to pregnancy along with movement and mindful activities. You are setting your baby up not just for the beginning when they are forming but your nutrition will affect their entire life.
So, before I mention things I changed in my diet, I thought I would talk about what my normal diet is. Eric, Lucas and I are 99.9 percent vegetarian. There are exceptions if we go to a family get together and there is meat served. We may or may not have a little. But other than that we do not have it in the house. Lucas has tried it and does not care for it. I did not eat meat when I was pregnant with him. Eric and I have both studied nutrition for a long time now and his Father was a vegetarian his entire life for both ethical and environmental reasons. When Eric and I first started dating, we both ate a bit more meat but in the past 3 years it has dwindled down to almost nothing. It took me a long time to discover the balance of food that works well for my body and now that I am aware of what works, I feel physically very good and strong and healthy. Every person is different and there are a variety of factors to consider when it comes to diet. What works for me may not work for you and visa versa but I just wanted to give you a heads up before I dive into my nutrition within pregnancy. We also try to eat almost all organic especially when it comes to produce and we try to eat locally grown foods (a luxury we are blessed to have living in CA). I highly recommend going the organic route (especially with produce and grains) if you are trying to get pregnant and eat a lot of conventional fruit and veggies. The pesticides they put in our crops is not healthy for any individual but especially harmful for a growing fetus. However, I am also aware of how expensive organic produce can be. We have a list of the dirty dozen in a couple of places. I will try and post this soon. That way, if you are unable to buy everything organic, you can try and get the items that are recommended at the top of the list to purchase organic. We are on a pretty tight budget now that number two is on the way so something that has really helped me with grocery shopping is to buy only what is in season and to focus on just getting items on the outer perimeter of the grocery store. The fresh Items! In my experience, it is the packaged items that tend to raise the bill. Buying in bulk has also helped us and doing things homemade. For example, I LOVE trailmix but it is some of the most expensive stuff out there and not all of the store trailmix ingredients are my favorite anyway so making our own trailmix has been a hit! (I will add that recipe too soon) Another great way to sometimes save on produce is to hit farmer’s markets. If it is in season, you can often find some great deals on local produce.
None of us have any food allergies but Eric and Lucas do not drink milk. I have it in the morning with my coffee but use it for nothing else. I drink organic unsweetened soymilk (the ingredients are strictly organic soybeans and filtered water). Eric occasionally drinks almond milk and Lucas only likes water. I breast fed him past a year and a half and then when I weaned him, he only wanted water. He gets plenty of calcium and Vitamin D from other sources. We eat gluten sparingly. I am Greek afterall and love some good bread with olive oil:)
While I am not pregnant, I enjoy red wine but I do not drink any other type of alcohol. And Eric maybe has a glass of wine once or twice a year or a beer every blue moon but that is it. I drink a cup of coffee almost every morning. When I am pregnant, it is more like a half of cup. In my first trimester I had no coffee because I did not have a desire for it. I had a few small cups of green tea per week. When it comes to food, our staples in the house include rice, barley, oats, some pasta, quinoa, all types of beans, fresh veggies in addition to frozen veggies, fresh fruit, eggs (organic and pasture raised), organic tempeh (excellent source of protein if you are vegetarian), tahini, nut butters, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, some cheese (mostly mild cheddar and mozarella). I stay away from raw cheese as well as soft cheese when I am pregnant). Since I am vegetarian and iron is essential during pregnancy, I add TONS of spinach, black beans, navy beans, and other leafy greens to my diet as much as possible. I also eat dark chocolate every day and I recently started adding organic molasses to my baked goods because there is quite a bit of iron in it. We try and stay away from packaged and processed foods but realistically, we are a busy family and very active and having some energy bars around as well as some of our favorite crackers is good for us. Lightly salty crackers were very welcomed in my first trimester 🙂 I love to bake and my top three favorite things to bake are banana bread, pumpkin bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I will share all of these recipes in later posts. The pumpkin bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are recipes passed down from my mom, who baked them for us all growing up and still does.
As a side note: In my next post, I will include some of my favorite organic brands. But if I include everything now, you will be up all night reading this:)) I will also include my prenatal vitamin of choice, belly balm, my favorite nourishing herbal teas and some essential oils that have been amazing during pregnancy.
Some important foods I stay away from include juices, soda, sugar unless it is in the form of fruit, or maple syrup or molasses ( my sweeteners of choice for baked goods and my oatmeal in the morning). I have a savory tooth more than a sweet tooth so sugar is not too much of an issue but I will say that keeping my blood sugar stable throughout the day makes for a much more comfortable pregnancy. That and TONS of water. I try and drink about 100oz a day, sometimes more if I have been particularly active on a warm day. I do not eat huge meals, I prefer eating around 5 smaller meals throughout the day and this has been helpful during pregnancy. You will find, as the pregnancy moves on, you will get full quickly. The baby takes up a lot of room so eating less per meal and a little more often keeps me satisfied and nourished. As I have mentioned before I stay away from meat but I think it is important to say, it is best to not eat raw fish.
My favorite rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition (I have written down in many places) is to think: WARM, SAVORY, EARTHY, NOURISHING, and GROUNDING.
So, even though much of my pregnancy will be throughout the summer, I am still going to choose to eat warm and grounding foods. Oatmeal in the mornings, eggs with veggies and toast for lunch and rice bowls for dinner, as some examples. I like to add in raw veggies such as spinach and some crunchy peppers or cucumbers but it has really helped me in my life and particularly while pregnant to eat very grounding foods. I am a very active person with the tendency to always want to be moving, working on a project, organizing, cleaning, planning….so having warming foods, wearing earthy colors, adding cinnamon to food, drinking warm tea, reading at night…all of these activities help me so much and and I feel benefit the baby tremendously.
If you have a midwife, nutrition is an excellent topic to bring up. Talking to mother’s you know in person or again, as I mentioned before, writing down and reflecting on your nutrition, activity, lifestyle was really valuable to me and prepared me for the changes I did decide to make. It also was a bit of a relief. Especially if it is your first pregnancy, it can be overwhelming and doing a little preparation ahead of time, makes the pregnancy that much more special and magical. It is an incredible experience and knowing that you are doing your best to nourish your baby is a wonderful feeling. Feel free to message me with questions. I love talking nutrition and please remember, that we are all different. We have different digestions, different cultural backgrounds, different ways of living and my experience is only one. But I do strongly believe that what we put into our bodies, particularly when we are growing another human being, is a wonderful responsibility and one that deserves attention and care.