Pregnancy has really given me a whole new perspective on eating. I’ve always had issues with moderation – and we all know I have a serious sugar addiction – but having a little one depend on me as a life source has made something click internally. Over the past five months I’ve gone from craving absolutely nothing but mustard [that nauseous stage was seriously no fun] to wanting everything with an I’ve-got-to-have-it urgency, but throughout the process I’ve trusted my body to tell me what – and how much – it needs, which is something completely new to me.
My whole life I’ve felt like my body and I were enemies… I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to feel as though we are now working together to create a perfectly healthy baby. I fuel myself and listen to for feedback: when it’s what we need, I feel balanced and energetic; when it’s something I don’t need – say too much frozen yogurt or anything with gluten – my body lets me know not to do it again by giving me horrendous heartburn, headaches, or lethargy.
So this is what intuitive eating is like, huh? Who knew it would take getting pregnant for me to start understanding it.
At every appointment we have with our midwife we’re told to bring along a food journal from the past three days. One of my favorite things about having our midwife is that she puts a large emphasis on living healthily and holistically always, but especially while hapai [pregnant]. She goes over the journal with us and then gives me feedback on what I can do to improve my diet for my specific stage of pregnancy.
Our diet has stayed pretty similar to before the baby – tons of fresh veggies and fruit, seafood, goat dairy, sustainably-raised meats, and whole grains – but there are a few staples that have been added to the mix for the baby’s benefit, or because my taste buds have changed.
[Please note that this is solely from personal experience. If you’re hapai, I encourage you to talk with your doctor or midwife about your diet.]
My tastes have continued to change, but here are some of my pregnancy staples so far:
Dark leafy greens:
Honestly, I’ve been obsessed with my dark leafies for years, but they’re especially important now, as they’re loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients [including vitamins A, C, + K, plus folate] to help the baby’s organs grow healthy and strong.
[I like to fit greens into everything possible: steamed with pasta, raw in salads, baking kale chips, etc.]
Seaweed + Kelp:
Here in Hawai’i, we call dried seaweed nori, and we eat it from a young age [we are surrounded by the ocean, after all]. I remember one of my very first foods being sheets of nori from a huge plastic container. Nowadays it’s apparently become hippie-chic, and they’re now sold in overly-wasteful packaging… but they’re still just as delicious and good for you, providing a substantial serving of iodine and iron, which help the baby’s brain and nervous system develop.
[I eat the nori straight-up or with some rice and fish [mini musubis!]. You can buy kelp in a shaker, but Ben made some at home by simply baking a few sheets of kelp at 375 for 10-15 minutes and then working it between his fingers after putting it in a ziploc. We use it in place of salt and put it on everything from fried eggs to roasted veggies.]
I think I’ve made it abundantly clear by now that this child is an egg fiend. Since becoming hapai, we’ve gone through at least a dozen eggs per week. In fact, I was eating so many eggs that I had to research just how many eggs are acceptable to eat without adverse affects [research varies, but most say 1-2 full eggs a day in a balanced diet is fine for healthy women]. It turns out eggs are made up of a ton of good stuff, which might be why my body’s been loving them so much: they’ve got loads of quality protein, more than 12 vitamins + minerals, plus choline, which promotes baby’s brain health and overall growth.
[Fried, boiled, scrambled, green with ham… I don’t discriminate.]
I can’t believe it took me so long to find nutritional yeast [I’ve only known about it for two years or so]. It’s delicious, nutritious, and versatile, and it’s packed with protein and B vitamins, which are essential for baby’s healthy cell production and nervous system.
[The cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast is great as a cheese substitute… on eggs, in pasta, on popcorn…]
Fresh veggies + fruit:
Obviously veggies + fruit are packed with nutrients, but a few of my favorites during pregnancy have been kiwi [leaving the skin on gives you the greatest benefits!], banana, papaya [which helps aid digestion], and any grilled veggie. I truly feel that my continued consumption of fresh veg + fruit have kept me from the dreaded constipation issues that often plague pregnant women.
[I love adding fruit to pancakes, yogurt, or cereal and sprinkle some herbs, sea salt + pepper on veggies and grill em up!]
Chlorella Tablets / Lemongrass Tea:
Both of these are new to me as a pregnant mama. My midwife suggested adding chlorella [algae] tablets as an overall boost to my health [chlorophyll helps detox the body from toxins], and I really have felt great taking them! They’re packed with naturally-occurring vitamins + antioxidants including vitamins A, C, B1,2,6+12, lutein, niacin, folic acid, biotin, zinc, magnesium, omega fatty acids and phosphorus, all good for mama and baby!
The lemongrass tea was suggested to me by my acupuncturist when I told her I was worried about my urinary tract health [sorry, I just assume nothing is TMI at this point]. I get my lemongrass from a friend or at the natural food bulk section, and it’s literally just dried lemongrass leaves. It’s yummy, perfectly safe for baby, and you can drink it whether or not you have urinary tract issues.
[I have 10 chlorella tabs each morning and drink a cup of lemongrass tea every couple days just as a precaution, and because it tastes good.]
I couldn’t leave out my favorite condiment of the entire pregnancy now could I?
I honestly don’t know if mustard has any nutritional benefit, but I am in love with the stuff and eat it on a daily basis. It’s weird, really.
What are your current food staples?
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