Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Healthy Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy


Okay, so today's the day I promised to discuss the embarrassing third reason I'm happy to be pregnant. First, let me tell a little of the back story. After my miscarriage, I worked really hard to get my body back in good shape to try and conceive again. I joined Weight Watchers to help me lose the last of my pregnancy weight and consistently exercised four times a week. I was feeling fantastic and very proud of myself. 

And then I was ovulating and we were trying to have a baby and I felt pregnant within one to two days. I mainly felt bloated and tired. It was hard to keep up my exercise routine. Once I let that slack off, it was even easier to abandon my healthy eating. I was also dealing with the psychological stress that comes from being pregnant for almost the entire first trimester, losing the baby, and then trying to conceive again. Whenever I feel stressed, I love to eat junk food. Also, in the back of my mind, I knew that if I were pregnant, I would need to start eating really healthy foods, and so I think I was indulging as much as possible just in case I was pregnant. For example, the day I found out I was pregnant (I didn't test until the evening), I ate two Krispy Kreme donuts, a grilled cheese sandwich, french fries, a pesto pasta dish, ciabatta bread, and gellato, and I was getting ready to eat some chocolate cake. As soon as I took the test and it was positive, I decided to let Matt eat all the cake. (As a parenthetical aside, I would like to point out that my in-laws were in town, so we were eating out for every meal.)

There are a whole host of reasons why good nutrition is so important during pregnancy (related to a healthier pregnancy, birth, and infant), but it's even more important for me because of the liver problems I had in my last pregnancy. Also, as a vegetarian, I need to ensure that I get adequate levels of protein and iron. So I'm back to my healthy regime. I understand that being so strict with my eating is what leads me to be more indulgent when I'm not being strict, but it's easier for me to cut out all unhealthy stuff. Honestly, it wasn't very hard for me to cut out refined sugar during my first pregnancy--I think because cutting it out entirely reduced most of my cravings. 

It's been particularly difficult to eat healthy lately, since my colleagues are always baking homemade treats and setting them on the table behind me. It will be much easier for me to eat healthy and nutritious foods if I avoid all of the food at school. 

It will also help if I have an idea in my mind about what I can eat for each meal and snack. I don't have to stick to the plan every day, but having the plan in place helps me eat healthy foods if I'm too busy to think of anything else. So here's what I'm thinking:
  • Green smoothie and a hard-boiled egg for breakfast (calcium, protein, fruit, and vegetable/iron)
  • Morning snack of a protein bar (recommended by my midwife)
  • Lunch = leftover dinner (protein + vegetable) + a piece of fruit
  • Afternoon snack = cheese stick + fruit
  • Dinner = protein + vegetable + salad (more leafy greens) with fruit in it
I just went back to the Vegetarian Pregnancy Nutrition Tracker I created based on the book What to Expect When You're Expecting (which many people hate). It looks like this basic sketch of a meal plan will fulfill most of the daily requirements.

Who knows how I'll feel throughout the first trimester. When I was pregnant with Henry, my midwife gave me permission to eat whatever I needed to in order to get through the first trimester. I'll heed that advice again if necessary, but I'll still try not to indulge in things that are bad for my liver.



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2 comments:

Kate said...

I really love your framework of what to eat at each meal. I need something like that, otherwise, I get overwhelmed by the idea of eating healthily!

Cinnamon said...

Sara, I've been reading forever...well over a year now! But I just started commenting :)
I just wanted to say thank you for your open and honest pregnancy and motherhood posts. My husband and I are trying to start a family and your posts helped me put together a list of things to do before we began. Also improving our nutrition now! I threw out the refined sugars, bought local organic honey and maple syrup, and now (a few months later...no baby yet unfortunately) I've purchased sucanat to try in baking. We almost never eat dessert anymore (except ice cream...that's my weakness...but I switched to brand with no corn syrup and we're looking for a ice cream maker for the holidays) but Christmas is coming and I'm sort of the unofficial family cookie baker. So I'm experimenting with less processed sugars and whole wheat pastry flour. And using fruit or natural dyes for colors and icings. Have a blessed pregnancy!

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