Week 23: Eating While Pregnant
My sisters affectionately call me a cow, pig, fat ass when describing my appetite. I accept it, because I do have my moments. The other day, I stopped at Del Taco, ordered Chili Cheese Fries, and, since I was not driving, scarfed them down before I ever made it home (it was less than 10 min. away). Sometimes, when I hunger, I’ve been known to order multiple entries, just for myself, so I can sample the varied items at my leisure.
I love food. Everyone that knows me, knows this. The eating experience is one I enjoy, look forward to, and revolve my day around. When I plan out my days, even vacations, I think about what, where and when I am going to be eating. I make no apologies about this. I revel in it. I love food. Everyone that knows me, knows this. The eating experience is one I enjoy, look forward to, and revolve my day around. When I plan out my days, even vacations, I think about what, where and when I am going to be eating. I make no apologies about this. I revel in it. This has nothing to do with my pregnancy. This is not cravings. This is me.
My love of food has grown even more since I started cooking. I made meals for myself throughout my adolescence and into early adulthood. But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties, that I began experimenting with recipes, and working with spices, and really familiarizing myself with the kitchen, that my taste for food evolved. It also is when I became the most conscious and aware of what I was putting into my body.
For people that are especially picky eaters, or just all-around bad eaters, learning to cook for yourself works wonders. As a life-long picky eater, who recalls gagging if a shard of onion even touched any part of my food, cooking for myself grew out of a necessity to make my meals the way I wanted to. If I relied on others to make my meals, it was much harder to assert my oftentimes unpopular preferences. The funny thing is, once I began cooking for myself and trying out recipes, I began incorporating more new ingredients into my arsenal. My need to vary my meals and try new things forced me to consider vegetables, spices, grains, meat, and other food items I would have turned my nose at in the past.
I can’t quite remember who initiated the healthy eating movement more, my husband (then-boyfriend) or myself. I do know that learning to eat well in a manageable and affordable way has taken a good five or six years to confidently feel like I have some knowledge on the topic.
Let’s go to my perfect world scenario for a second: Six months to a year before my husband and I decided to start having children, we collectively cut out as much processed food as possible, begin taking supplements regularly, eat all organic, protein and plant-based diet. We cut out any vices such as alcohol and caffeine for an extended amount of time, and amp up our fitness. Why so long before?
For starters, it takes a while to build intent into a habit and then a lifestyle. Another reason has to do, again, with new (and maybe not so new) research that is pointing to the effects a woman and man’s diet prior to pregnancy having significant effects on their future offspring. It’s not enough anymore to say that once you start trying for baby, you want to live a healthier life. It starts before that. Granted, even though I didn’t do that to my fullest, I didn’t let that discourage me from doing my best to catch up.
One reward for women during pregnancy is the amount of time it lasts. For almost a year, we have a constant reminder in the form of another life we are working to grow. This reminder gives us the opportunity to eliminate bad habits and stick to that long term. An on-going theme in this blog is the idea that our society’s expectation of women to do all things right for sake of baby, actually can be spun (and should be spun) to demand and support women to do all things right for themselves before, during, after and without pregnancy. While some dietary expectations while pregnant may not be necessary when not pregnant or nursing, overall, nothing I am eating or doing now for my nutrition and health needs to or should stop once baby arrives. There is still another life I need to look out for.
5 Ways to Incorporate Healthy Eating into Your Life TODAY!
1. Plan Out Your Dinners At the Beginning of Each Week
Every Sunday, I sit down with my husband and we map out what out week looks like and talk about what sort of food we may want to have for dinner looking ahead. From there, a grocery list is made, groceries bought, and generally that makes the plan pretty easy to stick to. Of course we often have to modify due to late work nights, or just when changing our minds at the last minute, but it gives us a guide to refer to. It also helps to not have to think about what to do when you are starving and desperate and need food.
2. Join a CSA
We have been subscriber of Farm Fresh to You for almost two years now and love it. Every other week, we get a box of various produce that is organic and from local farms. I’ve become more aware of what is “in season” and this service offers so many varieties of fruits and vegetables that we get to try new things we never would have found in a typical grocery store, or picked out willingly. While the box isn’t enough to last a whole two weeks without supplementing from the Produce Section at the grocery store, it allows me to pick out items I know I can’t get organic from the store, or can’t find easily at your typical grocery store (purple potatoes, Romanesque Cauliflower, etc.)
3. Know the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen
While we buy predominantly all organic products, when it comes to some produce, the organic options are way too expensive (i.e. avocados) and not necessary. Sometimes, there isn’t an organic option for something we need. By knowing the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen (or at least knowing how to look them up easily on the phone), we at least know what we should always try to get organic, and what produce we can get away without getting organic all or most of the time.
4. Stick Close to Home
Realistically, making a meal every day of the week for dinner isn’t possible with our lifestyles. Also, as someone who enjoys trying new restaurants, I don’t think I need to deny myself that just to make sure I eat well. Our solution, we do our best to limit eating food outside the home to one night a week. If I stick to this, the dinners we make at home are often enough to have leftovers for lunches the next day. That just leaves breakfast and snacks, which are quick and easy to make at home.
5. Avoid Extremes
Work within your current preferences. Too many people make drastic decisions when they try to move towards better eating habits or diets and end up failing. Failure leads to apprehension about trying it again or doubt about the ability to really incorporate it as a lifestyle. It starts with slowly educating yourself, and having a general awareness. I know when I eat things that are probably not the best for me, but that awareness makes me less likely to do it multiple times in a row, whereas before, I wouldn’t have given it a thought. Overtime, you start to prefer and normalize the better eating habits over the poor ones. Some people can do cold turkey and strict regimens, I can’t and suspect most can’t so why do it to yourself?
Day-in-the-Life Meal Plan
- 2 eggs (often cooked over hard or scrambled)
- Greek Yogurt Protein Parfait (modified from an item at a local breakfast store that sells this for $10.00):
- Greek yogurt (1/2 cup)
- Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup)
- Handful of almonds
- Berries (lately, I’ve preferred blueberries and blackberries)
- Optional toppings: Hemp seeds, honey, coconut flakes, chia seeds
I layer my parfaits, starting with the almonds on the bottom, then cottage cheese, granola, Greek yogurt, berries and then toppings in a small Pyrex container for my work breakfast almost daily. It’s yummy, super filling, and packed with protein, good fats, and fruit, and low sugar so long as the granola isn’t too sweet. I can’t recommend enough this easy snack/meal.
MORNING SNACK (Second Breakfast/Pre-Lunch)
- 2 pieces of turkey bacon and apple slices
- Green Smoothie (on work days, I switch the smoothie with the parfait, so I can make the smoothie before I leave home)
- Protein powder (I highly recommend Vital Protein’s Collagen Peptides – two scoops = 18 grams protein with NONE of that chalky flavor)
- Half banana (preferably frozen)
- Spinach (I usually throw in a few handfuls/half the blender full)
- 1 cup Almond Milk (unsweetened)
- ½ cup – 1 cup of fruit of your choice (frozen or fresh)
I typically eat my dinner leftovers at lunch when I am at work. However, when that isn’t an option, I make a salad that, as a general rule, includes each of the following:
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, green lettuce, mixed greens)
- Cucumber slices, mushrooms and/or heart of palm
- Nuts/seeds (sunflower seeds are a favorite right now)
- Cranberries or pomegranates
- Protein (left over chicken, hardboiled egg, Costco’s Black Bean Burger Patties, tuna)
- Dressing: vinaigrette, or simple oil/vinegar combo, lemon juice
- Carrots and cucumber slices with hummus
- Apple or pear with almond butter
These have been some of our go-to favorite dinner recipes this past year. I guarantee they are fairly easy to make in a short amount of time/prep: