Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

I love eating healthy and the way it makes me feel. I love knowing that by making good food choices, I am taking care of this ONE body the Lord blessed me with and am hopefully helping to ward off many of the preventable diseases and illnesses plaguing our nation.

I am passionate about nutrition period, so of course things have not changed now that I’m preggo!

That being said...I have to admit that eating healthy during pregnancy has been more challenging than I expected (up until now). Most of my friends who are pregnant (and also normally very healthy eaters) agree.  During the first trimester especially, I didn’t eat nearly as healthy as normal, and I was pretty upset about it. I had (and still do) major food aversions to grilled chicken (I’m not a big meat eater anyway, so it was tough to lose this source of lean protein) and couldn’t stand the thought of veggies or salads, or even raw nuts. Natural peanut or almond butter didn’t even sound good and I definitely didn’t want eggs. That pretty much eliminated the majority of what I normally eat. I also didn’t want water (I don’t drink sodas or tea or anything, so I was drinking very little at that point), and the off and on nausea made it tough to get down anything besides raunchy carbs.

I have also had people constantly encouraging me to “eat bad, live it up, eat as much as I want, now’s my chance” etc. I always smile and nod, but have tried not to take this pathetic advice to heart for a few reasons (and I don’t mean that ugly.) I am responsible for growing a human being, and I am his only source of nutrients right now. He has no choices about what he is putting into his little body to help him grow, so I want to give him the very best possible.  To me, this is the first step in making the BEST possible choices I can for my baby! I I also do not plan to let myself get huge and out of control either. Not only does that put unnecessary stress on your body, but I also know a woman’s body does not bounce back as quickly after the baby. I want to get back to normal as soon as possible…(although I know it will take some time & I need to rest post-delivery….I def will do that, & I know breastfeeding will help too.) But like I said, pregnancy, both during and after, are NOT an excuse. My reason for wanting to get back has nothing to do with vanity….it’s truly because I know it’s healthy. Excess weight is not healthy, period. AND, it’s important to me to stay looking good for my hubby.  I vowed to give him the very best version of myself possible, and that includes taking care of myself physically.

That doesn’t mean I’m obsessed with my weight either. In fact, I’ve gained more than most of my friends at this point- probably 15+ lbs. Of course I monitor it to keep it in a healthy range, but it’s not about a number on a scale.  I’m more concerned with proper nutrition. (Like I said, I want to keep the weight in a healthy range, but I only weigh myself maybe once every 2 weeks.)

Anyway, that first trimester was a toughie. Thankfully that is behind me and I have been able to get back to “normal” over the last couple months…and I feel SO MUCH better! The difference is incredible. It’s interesting…since I’ve started eating better,my energy has picked back up too. Coincidence? Of course not. Nutrition affects so many aspects of our health- digestion, energy, sleeping, immune system….the list goes on! This has been a great cycle because eating better has given me more energy to work out….which also helps with my energy, mood, AND helps me sleep better! Now I know I’m not anything impressive in the gym, but I am moving. That’s especially important  because I try to sit a lot while at work. (It’s really easy to be an your feet ALL day as a teacher….and while it’s important to be active, I know my body also needs significantly more rest than normal…and I get REALLY tired when I am up or walking too much).

Before sharing some of my tips, I wanna say that I am FAR from perfect!!  I have overeaten, splurged, eaten more sugar than I should, and skipped workouts. Remember when I was craving COOKIES for like 3 weeks straight? Yea, not good. And I ate school lunch a few times a week for at least a few months when I felt too exhausted to pack anything (let’s be honest….just not that healthy!). Plus, I have bought some sugary cereal more than once to help satisfy my sweet tooth.  But just like when not pregnant, it is NOT about being perfect….it’s about consistently making better choices.

So here are a few things I’m doing now to get back on track and make sure the next four months are as HEALTHY as possible!

*Buying organic. I am more worried about pesticides now than ever, so I buy organic as often as possible and wash all of my produce. (I used to be SUPER lazy about that and never wash anything except apples.)
*Starting with a healthy breakfast. I am HUGE on  breakfast!! I have written countless blog posts, and it’s always one of the FIRST things I talk to someone about when they’re trying to make healthier choices.  (We WAY overcomplicate it…it’s very simple….eat a big, healthy, balanced, breakfast; drink water; eat REAL food- not processed junk.) I either eat eggs & and Ezekial bread or English muffin, OR drink a shake. Either way, I know those are two well balanced, high protein options to get my body off to a good start.
*Taking TOP quality vitamins. 
*Avoid food & drinks they recommend to avoid. I don’t eat hot dogs, lunch meat ( have eaten deli meat a few times if it’s sliced fresh in the store and warmed, but still limit), shellfish, unpasteurized cheese or juice, certain fish, etc.  I don’t drink sodas or coffee (not even decaf) because they can dehydrate you….and of course I have to limit caffeine. I choose to get my daily caffeine (120 mg) through Spark. Honestly, most of the things on the “Do not eat/drink” list aren’t that good for you anyway. Am I being overly cautious? Maybe. But like Jonathan says, why the heck would you even risk it?
*Eating smaller portions. This hasn’t really been an option.  Typically, portion sizes are what I struggle with. Yes, I eat healthy, but too much is still too much. Now I don’t have much of a choice, so hopefully this new habit will stay with me after the baby is born. My belly gets SO full that I don’t have room for big meals, so I eat smaller portions and eat every 2 1/2- 3 hours like clockwork. I am never hungry or thirsty (and we should never let ourselves get to the point where we feel either of those….that’s how you make sue to stay well hydrated and keep your metabolism burning).
*No plastics. I drink out of a BPA free water bottle and have a filtered pitcher at school. I also don’t heat up anything in plastic in the microwave (which isn’t good for anyone unless it’s BPA free, and even then I’m skeptical…. y’all know I’m not a fan of microwaves anyway.)
*Cooking at home more. No matter how healthy of an option you pick while eating out, it is just NOT going to be as healthy as the way I prepare it at home. For example, when I’m craving Mexican, we go to Moe’s. What we eat there is healthier than what we would eat at a normal Mexican restaurant. Still, last night I made burritos for us at home….and not only were they delicious, but SO much healthier. I used lean ground turkey, low sodium taco seasoning, Ezekial tortillas, organic brown rice, low-fat shredded cheese, veggie packed salsa, & spinach & organic tomatoes. I gave Jon some corn for his too. We loved them, they filled us up, and I’m certain it was healthier (and CHEAPER) than what we would have eaten at Moe’s.
*Making smoothies daily. This is something I started right before Christmas and I am loving it. It helps with my sweet tooth, and I love knowing I am packing in so many healthy items. Plus, they are super filling and an awesome afternoon snack! Here’s my favorite recipe: spinach, kale, celery, 1 scoop Amazing grass (berry flavored), 1/2 banana, 1 tbsp either natural almond butter or coconut oil, lemon juice, 1 scoop ground & milled flaxseed, 1 c frozen berry medley, water & ice (this makes enough for 2 smoothies)
*And after talking to Joann and Erin (and seeing that Larissa is enjoying it too), I plan to start juicing. This will be a totally new endeavor, so I’ll keep ya posted! Anyone have any great recipes or a reasonably priced juicer they love??
Pregnancies are all unique and I know everyone has a different experience, but with it comes incredible responsibility. I feel so much better now that I know I’m doing my best to give my body and baby what they need.


Kate said...

I think you are doing awesome. I wouldn't worry about about comparing yourself to others... You look great!

Sarah @ To Be Mrs. Collier said...

I am so glad that you posted something about this. My husband and I just starting talking about starting a family within the next year and I just started reading how to prepare myself for a pregnancy. I have often thought about how important it is to put quality food in my body now but more especially when we get pregnant. Good job girl!

Sarah C.

Erin said...

I'm glad you posted this :) Even though I'm not pregnant- all this stuff is so important and I've been trying to really make a lifestyle change NOW- before we start having kids. We just started buying a lot more organic, and washing our produce too!!

Erin said...

You are going to love your juicer! It is the best thing ever. It only takes 7 minutes to clean =) Yep I timed it!! My husband lost ten pounds in a week. My skin is glowing and my energy has never been better. Enjoy!!!

Mama’s Minute said...

A Freaking Men! I second everything you say! It feels so much better to have a salad and healthy choice and the energy it provides is undeniable! Love you!!

V said...

I completely agree with you about being prego and eating even healthier than you would if you weren't prego! I hate that women use it as an excuse to eat what ever they want! It just means it's going to be THAT much harder to lose the weight. Anyway, check out this post on juicing and juice drinks.

Sophie @ E Liquid said...

You must be really careful when you choose the food for you. I had the best and the most organic food when I was pregnant.