As many of you know already, or soon will find out when you open the barrage of books on pregnancy, there is a lot to learn about nutrition during this wonderful season of life. There is plenty of information out there about 3 servings of this or that, and which supplements to take to make sure you and your baby are healthy. But, before you get overwhelmed, let’s take a step back and talk about basic nutrition. After all, good nutrition during pregnancy is the most important factor in making sure that you have a successful, positive natural birthing experience.
To begin with, let’s remember that our bodies instinctually know what they need and if you allow yourself to tune into this, you will gravitate to what your body needs at any given time. Pregnancy is no exception. When you are pregnant, your body will crave foods that have the vitamins and minerals that you need to maintain a healthy pregnancy, and what your baby needs to be healthy and strong.
Many pregnant women worry about morning sickness, and how they will get all the nutrition they need when they either can’t eat, or what they do eat is coming right back up. If you know the basics of how your body responds to food, you can develop a program for eating that will minimize morning sickness symptoms and keep you energized all day. First off, let’s look at when to eat. The natural cycle of your body is to eat very little between 7pm and 10am, so having small, light meals during this time will keep nausea to a minimum. Between 10am and 7pm our bodies naturally will want to get the majority of its calorie and nutritional needs met. Having more nutritionally dense foods frequently throughout this time of the day will again keep those morning sickness symptoms at bay.
Next, let’s look at what to eat. This is often a tricky subject with so many different types of eating/food choices out there. Women often get conflicting messages about what they should be consuming. But, if you keep in mind that as long as you are eating a well rounded diet, high in vegetables and fruit, and you let your body guide you, you will not only get all the nutrition you need, but you will also experience much less fatigue, and nausea. Why high vegetables and fruit? Because vegetables and fruit are the easiest for our bodies to digest. When foods are easy to digest, our stomachs produce less acids, and less acids means less morning sickness. You may be wondering, what about protein? Fruits and vegetables have a lot more bio-available protein in them than dairy and meat. However, to get all that protein you would have to eat a TON of fruits and veggies, and most of us don’t have time to “graze” all day long to meet those needs. Two great options to increase your protein are to drink green smoothies (see recipe below), and to incorporate raw nuts and seeds into your diet. This basic combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will provide maximum nutrition and protection against morning sickness. Grains can be added as needed/ wanted to make for a full meal. Of course, not all of us are vegan, or even vegetarian, and that is o.k. The next on the list of “best foods” to add into your diet would be dairy, and then meat. These should be compliments to your meal, not the main course, as dense animal-based proteins can increase morning sickness. But, many women find that if they follow the vegetable, fruits, nuts, and seeds “guideline” and add in some grains as needed, that they don’t feel that they need to eat as much of the animal-based proteins. In return, they have more energy and experience less nausea.
The one category that experts agree to avoid during pregnancy is pre-packaged and processed products, especially those made with hydrogenated oils. These products have little-to-no nutritional value and often contain chemicals that are not good for you and your baby. In addition, they can increase morning sickness and fatigue and leave you feeling more hungry shortly after you have eaten them because your body didn’t get the nutrition that it needs. Food is always best eaten and assimilated in its most natural state. Following that rule will make it easy to stay away from pre-packaged and processed foods.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that our countries food supply as a whole has less nutritional value than it did even 75 years ago. So, to make sure that you are getting the best possible nutrition, eating organic foods is the best choice. If organic foods are not an option, than just make sure to wash your produce thoroughly with either a commercially available produce wash, or good ol’ soap and water with a vegetable brush. In addition, taking a high quality prenatal vitamin is essential. There are many brands to choose from, but the best brands are the ones made from whole food ingredients. If they are not made from whole foods, the supplements can be very hard on your system, specifically your liver. Often times, these are the prenatal vitamins that many women say they throw-up when they have morning sickness.
Eating a healthy, well rounded diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming during pregnancy. If you remember to listen to what your body is saying that it needs, and eating a well rounded diet throughout the day, you and your baby will be well on your way to happy, healthy, morning sickness free days.
The China Study by Dr. T. Collin Cambell and Thomas M. Campbell II; http://www.thechinastudy.com/
The Garden Diet by Storm Talifero:
Raw Pregnancy, Ecstatic Birth by JinJee Talifero:
Sunfood Nutrition by David Wolfe
Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens, M.D.
How do I get nutrition when I have morning sickness?
This is a question that many women ask early on in pregnancy. Of course you want to get the best nutrition you can for you and your baby, but when you feel nauseous a lot of the time, how are you supposed to do that? Green smoothies are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs and can provide you with nutrition as well as help decrease your morning sickness! Smoothies are an easy meal, and can be drunk in place of any meal, or as a good in-between meal snack. Did you know that calorie-for-calorie, spinach has more protein than steak? It’s true!
Basic Smoothie Recipe
Spinach or other greens (chard, kale, lettuce, dandelion, etc.)
Fruit of choice (mix and match!)
** Fill a blender to the top with spinach. Add aprox. 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth, adding water as needed. Add 2-3 bananas and blend again until smooth. Add your fruits of choice and blend again until smooth. **
Some Good Fruit Combinations:
Strawberry & Kiwi
Orange & Pineapple
Apple & Pear
Nectarine/Peach & Plum
You can always just add 2 of the same fruit too! (i.e. 2 apples, 2 kiwi, etc.)
To Add More Calcium: Add in some almond milk
For Severe Nausea: Add in some ginger
To Add More Protein: Add in some hemp or flax powder