5 Tips for Eating During the First Trimester

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Eating During the First Trimester

fruits and veggies

Expectant moms get a lot of advice about what and how to eat during pregnancy, from the old “eating for two” saying to recommendations that you eat at least 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day, to people telling pregnant women to eat whatever they crave, whenever they want it, in however big a quantity they want. Most pregnant women experience a greater appetite during the blissful second and cumbersome third trimesters than the first, when the effect of raging hormones is at its most potent, so it is usually easier during the latter 2/3 of pregnancy to plan out meals and eat as healthy as possible. However, because a significant amount of pregnant women experience nausea during their first trimester, making it difficult to want to eat anything at all—let alone carefully planned meals and the fridge full of healthy groceries she’s purchased. Read on for a 5 tips on how and what to eat during your first trimester.

#1: Get Clear on Necessary Calories
As any doctor will tell you, pregnancy is not a time to diet. That said, the old “eating for two” saying, implying that pregnant women need and should consume twice the calories they did before pregnancy, just isn’t true. During the first trimester, it’s now recommended that you eat instead for 1.1, meaning that you should consume about 10% more calories than required to maintain your weight before pregnancy. This may come as welcome news to expectant moms who can’t keep meals down during their first trimester. If your appetite has been unaffected by pregnancy, shoot for filling that extra 10% with nutritious, whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean meats, or yogurt.

#2: Avoid Forbidden Foods
All pregnant women are advised to avoid a few foods, mostly because of the the potential for contracting food-borne illnesses, which can negatively impact mom and baby. Among these are unpasteurized foods, raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and eggs, alcohol, more than 200mg of caffeine per day, lunch meat, foods with nitrates (hot dogs and bacon), foods left out at room temperature for long periods (like buffet foods), and shellfish. Some doctors will add or remove foods from this list, but these are the generally recommended foods to avoid. Be sure to ask your doctor for a complete list and when in doubt, don’t eat it.

#3: When You’re Nauseous, Eat What You Crave
If you’re feeling so bad that all food turns you off and you literally can’t eat a meal without tossing it back up, start by following the advice to eat what you crave when you crave it. Many cases of morning sickness are worsened by blood sugar imbalances, which occur most drastically when mama isn’t eating. If there’s anything you’re able to get down—even a croissant or some saltines and ginger ale—start there. Little by little, you may be able to calm the nausea enough to eat something more nourishing or at least with a few more calories. The term “morning sickness” comes from the fact that most women experience their worst nausea of the day first thing in the morning, after spending 8-10 hours without eating (while asleep). If you’re getting hit with nausea first thing in the morning, fill a little container with almonds and keep it on your nightstand. When you wake up to pee (because you will!), eat a small handful of almonds and take a few sips of water. Doing so will help regulate your blood sugar and as a bonus will lower cortisol and help you sleep better.

#4: Shop for a Few Days at a Time
You’ve done your research, carefully planned the week’s meals, and filled your fridge with an expensive load of healthy, organic veggies, meats, and dairy products, only to find that the thought of eating any of them the next day completely repulses you. While it is generally recommended that pregnant women eat nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the truth is that many women are so turned off by food that they simply can’t. Instead of throwing out food and wasting money by buying lots of groceries you won’t end up eating, shop for a few days at a time. Better yet, if he’s willing, have your partner pick up a few groceries or hit a salad bar on the way home from work so that you don’t have to smell or look at your food before you eat it—many pregnant women feel fine preparing and cooking dinner but have been exposed to the sight and smell of it so much that by the time they sit down to eat they don’t want it any more!

#5: Give Yourself a Break
Even the best intentions to eat well can’t beat nasty, lingering, round the clock morning sickness. If you truly can’t eat at all, or are living off of energy bars, muffins, and Vitamin Water, know that you’re not alone! Talk with your nurse or doctor about possible medications to help you ease your nausea (never take medications during pregnancy without consulting a doctor). If all else fails, give yourself a break. Many women with crippling nausea who have been unable to eat a full calorie load during their first trimester have been able to make up for it during their second and third trimesters, put on the required weight, and deliver healthy babies. Just make sure that you check in with your health care provider if you’re truly unable to stomach anything.

What’s your favorite first trimester snack? What’s helped you make it through to the so-called free-and-easy second trimester?

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