Guest Blog: Healthy Eating Through the Childbearing Year

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Many stressors typically accompany the nine-month journey of pregnancy, and I want to help uncover the frustration of eating healthy when you’re expecting. Other factors that play into this include the food aversions that many women experience during this time, the time consuming grocery shopping when you’re drained of energy, the dreadful meal prepping, and then countless hours in the kitchen cooking. If this sounds like the feelings you are experiencing, then read on. It’s my hope to help healthy eating not feel like a chore to you, but rather something that can be done rather quickly and you don’t dread doing.

Healthy eating and food aversions

Since most of us have super smellers during pregnancy and can detect the slightest smell a mile away, that alone is enough to make you steer clear of certain foods. If you can help it, try and reduce the amount of unpleasant smells, and this could also help reduce nausea, which in turn may make it easier to eat. 

Any food or food group can cause an aversion and make your morning sickness worse, which makes it hard to eat meals. Of course you want to eat as healthy as you can for the health of you and your baby, but if certain healthy foods are making you nauseous, a good option is to eat bland foods including bread, cereal, crackers and rice. Make sure they’re whole grain so you’re getting some added fiber as well. 

Women experience all sorts of food aversions while pregnant, and meat aversion is very typical for many women. This is thought to be nature’s way of protecting you and your baby since meat contains a lot of bacteria. If it’s not cooked properly, this could make you become very sick and cause complications such as premature delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth.

If you are able to eat a variety of foods, it’s so important to do so to make sure you are getting all your key nutrients. There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are needed in higher doses during pregnancy since every part of you is growing and your baby is taking these nutrients from you. Whether you can take in a lot of food or not, a quality vitamin should be added to your daily regime to ensure you are getting some needed nutrients. 

A really great option to increase your calorie and nutrient intake is to make a smoothie. Toss in lots of fruits and greens for the vitamins, milk of choice for the calcium, nut butter of choice for the fat and protein, hemp seeds and chia seeds for fatty acids, and a high quality protein powder since the demands of pregnancy require 25 grams more protein for a singleton. This smoothie can be like a salad bar in a glass; be creative and you may find it’s a lot easier to consume than a whole plate of food.

Grocery shopping and planning

Grocery shopping can be tiring, especially if you have other kids to tote around. Make it as easy as possible on yourself by writing your grocery list ahead of time. Pregnancy brain is a real thing, and the less you have to remember, the better. Along with pregnancy brain come fatigue, and in some cases, extreme fatigue. The last thing you want to do is spend hours and hours at the grocery store roaming the aisles trying to think of dishes to make. Your taste buds can change on a day-to-day basis – I know they did for me. One day a veggie burger sounded amazing, so I had one for lunch and one for dinner. The next day I couldn’t even stomach the thought of one. If there is something that sounds good to you, stock up on it. Chances are it may sound good again in a few days. Pick out a few meals and snacks and go to the store and stock up. I advise buying in bulk for a majority of items including frozen fruits, frozen veggies, nuts, nut butters, rice, quinoa, beans, eggs, pasta, and meat if you are able. Buying these items in bulk less often will make your weekly trips to the grocery store more of a breeze where you can just stock up on fresh fruits and veggies and other essentials for the week. 

Meal prepping

Lots of women think they don’t have enough time to meal prep on the weekends because it takes hours and hours in the kitchen, but this is not true. You can prep some pretty healthy and delicious snacks, parts of meals or whole meals in a short amount of time. Take just two hours on a weekend, and that will save you so much time and frustration during the week. It will help take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner, and you will always have healthy snacks to reach for so you can stay on track throughout the week. Some examples of meal prepping or snack prepping include: 

-hard boiled eggs: snack, put on salads

-quinoa: side dish, put on salads

-wash and cut up veggies: celery, carrots, radish, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower

-protein balls: snack

-chicken salad: use with wraps, lettuce wraps, on salads, with crackers

-oatmeal superfood breakfast bars: snack, breakfast

-morning glory muffins: snack, breakfast

-egg muffins: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack

-black bean oat veggie burger: lunch, dinner, crumble on salads

-roasted veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots

-smoothie bags: put all contents of smoothie except liquid in bag and put in fridge

-instant oatmeal jars: breakfast, lunch

-mason jar salad: lunch, dinner

Meals don’t have to be complex. They don’t have to take hours in the kitchen. The more plant based you can be, the better for your body, less time consuming, less frustration with trying to come up with meals, and better for your baby. 

I hope there was at least one idea in here that you could benefit from to help make your pregnancy less stressful so you can focus on what’s important—the health of you and your baby. If you would like to know more about nutrition and wellness during pregnancy, feel free to contact me. This is my passion and I love helping women experience the healthiest pregnancy they can. 

Andrea Short is a Maternity Nutrition & Wellness Specialist and Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist. She guides and supports women during all stages of pregnancy with health and fitness, so they can have the healthiest pregnancy they can. She also works with postpartum women to get back on track with their nutrition and fitness goals. If you would like to learn more, contact Andrea at andreashortwellness.com