Pregnancy and Food – How to feel great!
Yesterday’s post was all about botanical medicine for perinatal concerns. Today, we’re all about food and pregnancy! Integrative care is great because the more modalities and approaches you can utilize, the better you will feel so why not combine those botanicals with what you’re eating on your plate.
*Disclaimer – I have never actually been pregnant so I won’t pretend to know exactly what it’s like, but I have worked with many mothers-to-be and this is a combination of researched data and data I’ve gathered from real life examples with real life clients.
A diet full of refined flours, refined sugars, little to no vegetables or fruits, lack of protein, fried foods, pastries, traditional baked goods, food food burgers, fast food breakfast sandwiches, and sugary drinks is a recipe to feel unwell – pregnant or not.
All of these foods can lead to blood sugar surges and crashes, over and over again. This not only contributes to a feeling of nausea, but it sends your energy all over the place, and can contribute to gestational diabetes which causes complications in your last trimester and throughout delivery.
It can affect the way your muscles feel as well because all of those foods cause inflammation in the body and a faster weight gain which puts pressure on your joints (I’m talking 60 – 80lb+ gains).
Cravings will happen, and this guidance isn’t about “never” consuming certain foods – it’s more about being aware about what you consume “everyday” versus “every once in awhile”.
Food can “improve” your experience when you eat to support your budding little baby and eat foods that actually provide you with energy and nourishment. Easier said than done – and sometimes there are more challenging times than others during a pregnancy – but I promise you if you break the vicious sugar-nausea-fatigue-sugar-nausea-fatigue cycle, it can help.
Everyone is individual when it comes to combating nausea, increasing energy and dealing with aches and pains, but I do encourage you to avoid the “eff it, I’m pregnant I’ll eat all this junk” attitude – and remember, this isn’t about “all or none” 🙂
There are 3 major complaints that can happen throughout a pregnancy that can make it less of an enjoyable experience. Nausea/Vomiting (which sometimes is out of your control), Fatigue and Cravings. So let’s chat a little about how to manage those top 3 concerns.
Here are my top nutrition tips for pregnancy related concerns
Combating nausea and morning sickness in pregnancy –
- Start your day with ginger water – boil fresh ginger and lemon and add a bit of honey to sweeten
- Always have a smoothie brewed up and ready – if you start feeling that nausea/intense hunger take a few sips to coat your stomach. The best smoothie combinations will have fruit + healthy fat (avocado/nut butter/coconut) + milk of choice + protein (powder that is safe/greek yogurt) bonus if it has veggies in it. The protein and the fat will help fill you up and control your blood sugar to help prevent that next nausea stint.
- Control blood sugar – in a nutshell – small mini meals throughout the day filled with complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and vegetables will help keep your energy stable.
Dealing with pregnancy cravings –
- Have sweets on hand that will satisfy without causing that energy plummet – Sweets from the Earth Flourless Cashew Cookies, good quality dark chocolate, fruit sorbets or real ice creams, organic works banana bread or homemade options like dates stuffed with almond butter, or homemade chocolate flourless torte bites – this isn’t about “all or none”, it would be ridiculous to say you won’t be eating desserts – so pick some wiser ones and let the less wider ones come in less frequently 😉
- Don’t skimp on meals – sometimes cravings can be caused from not eating enough and it’s your bodies way of screaming “FEED ME!”. The first macronutrient that increases is protein because it’s our building block nutrient and hey guess what, you’re building another human being. Very cool! Make sure you’re filling up on nutrient dense food that satiates for a long period of time like vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocado, lean proteins, and fibers like flaxseed or chia seed and ensure you are actually eating enough.
Dealing with low energy in pregnancy
- Consume small mini meals and snacks throughout the day instead of 3 large meals – this will avoid too much energy going to digestion and keep more energy for your body and mind to use.
- Consume whole grains throughout the day instead of refined grains to prevent low and high blood sugar.
- Eat protein at every meal. Sometimes certain proteins are unappealing so choose ones that work for you since there are a ton of choices – greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken, fish, lean beef, bison, elk, pork, turkey, beans, lentils, tempeh, eggs, etc. Other foods that contribute to protein intake are higher protein grains like quinoa and healthy fats like nuts/seeds.
- Eat lots of veggies! These can also be pretty unappealing so consume them however it works for you. In soups, smoothies, cooked in eggs/stir fries, pureed, cooked or raw or juiced. The more you can get in the better!
- Drink lots of water – since your blood volume increases, so does your need for water and dehydration can lead to mental fogginess and sluggishness.
I hope you have a happy, healthy and most importantly enjoyable pregnancy! Listen to your body and do what you feel is right for you and your baby 🙂
About Sarah Maughan
Sarah Maughan is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, ON and has been consulting since 2009. Her website aims to educate you, make you laugh, help you live and inspire you to eat whole food! To stay up to date sign up for free blog and recipe updates! In the meantime, empower your body with food!Sign Up for Free Info