The moment happens, you find out your pregnant, and it is almost immediately that cravings begin to occur. Since you are pregnant you are eating for two, right? As much as we have heard this, and would love this to be the case, it is actually not completely true. During the first two trimesters, our body requires the same amount of energy from food as we normally consume in our non-pregnant state. The “Eating for Two” mindset is easy to embrace because it feels like a great excuse, until we have to pay the cost later. It is certainly one of the main causes for excessive weight gain in pregnancy, and adds to the challenging battle to lose the pregnancy weight because you are shedding a firm mindset as well as fat.
Finding out you are pregnant usually starts with incredible excitement, followed by the first trimester exhaustion. Eating starts to become just something to do, and because we are going to gain weight anyways, why not enjoy it, right? For example, I remember my first; all I wanted was cheeseburgers and French fries. I literally could eat a triple cheeseburger a large fry and still want that again for the next meal. Looking back, I cringe, but that was my reality. Then with the subsequent pregnancies came pizza, Mexican food, and M&M’s by the Costco bag full. Yes, we will have cravings, and yes our taste buds will change – just like our sense of smell. We don’t have to completely deny those cravings, we just need to shed the lie of eating for two. So how can we still be healthy, and take care of our body and the baby growing inside us at the same time?
When we eat too excessively and gain too much weight we are at risk for hypertension, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. None of this is to scare you, because you should enjoy life, especially your pregnancy. The reality is that pregnancy can be exhausting and sometimes a good junk food meal is a much needed pick me up, and a little oasis of happiness, right? But, just like when we are not pregnant, too much of a good thing is still too much, and our post-pregnancy self will thank us for not piling on excessive recovery time.
So let’s look again at a basic truth – we need to eat. Eating is what will keep you and your baby healthy through these 40 weeks. But what can you do to stay healthy, and still enjoy this time?
- Eat healthy meals that are able to balance the tastes you crave with the fuel you need.
- Stay active – go for a walk if that is all you can do, but keep moving.
- Watch your food portions.
- Limit high fat and sugary foods. Please notice the word “limit”. It does not say “don’t eat…” or “stay away from…”. We all need a treat, and a plan that keeps mama bear away from a treat is a plan that will fail.
In your third trimester, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy, you need to prepare your body for labor. Much preparing is focused on the positions, and stretching, and getting your body physically ready for labor, and that is good. But did you know that before anyone runs a marathon, they eat for the race. This means that labor is just that – labor. It is work. Preparing your meals so that the food you are feeding yourself will give you the energy needed for this marathon. Eating foods that have good carbohydrates will help give you energy. Foods with good healthy fats and proteins will help you to not crash in the middle of the day and keep your energy levels up so that throughout the labor process you have a good amount of strength. Eat during this time to fuel your body.
All of this info is a general guideline to help inform you. There is definitely a way to dial it in more specifically and develop a plan to accomplish for your pregnancy a good balance of joy and discipline. The big thing here is that you enjoy this special time and take care of yourself and that growing baby.
**Amy Bender is part of our team here at Coastal Doulas and she teaches our classes on nutrition, as well as individual meal planning and prenatal nutrition counseling to help keep your body in optimal function for the amazing race that you are about to run. If you would like more information on our nutritional support, please contact us here for more information.**