For those of you who don't know me personally, I guess this is my big blogosphere announcement- I am pregnant! I am now 20 weeks along (halfway through!), and trying my best to eat Paleo-friendly throughout my pregnancy. As many of you DO know, I am not a nutritionist, or a doctor, or any kind of professional in the food world. But I do have some experience with this diet, and I wanted to share some tips from what I have learned. Remember, since I am NO doctor, take this all with a grain of salt. I am just hoping to pass along my "wisdom" and experience at this stage of my pregnancy. And of course, since I am only about halfway through, I may have to update along the way- you never know how things will change! But for now, here are some tips/advice/general things I have experienced while trying to stay Paleo while pregnant:
Stick to your healthy eating habits as much as you can.
Experts can argue that Paleo isn't the healthiest diet for every person, and maybe that is correct. But for us, it has involved cutting out junk and focusing on meats, eggs, and produce. Since starting Paleo, we have been eating a LOT more fruit and veggies and replacing items like breads and pastas with produce. Experts DO recommend that pregnant women eat as much natural/fresh food as possible, and for that reason, I have made the effort to continue Paleo. Cutting out processed/junk food is never a bad idea in my mind. This being said, there are some considerations...
Don't kill yourself to stay Paleo ALL the time.
Some of you may know that my husband and I decided a few months back to only do 80/20 Paleo. For us, this looked like eating Paleo during the week, and then eating whatever we wanted on weekends. It has been a good method, and I will admit that some weeks we are probably more like 50/50 Paleo. We haven't killed ourselves or missed out on things we wanted to do because of our diet, and I am happy about that. If we are on vacation or have special events, we do what we want, and enjoy life!
Now, when you are pregnant, definitely don't stress yourself to stay Paleo. There will be some nights that you are just too tired to cook, and if your partner doesn't cook, you may have to get takeout. I won't lie, this has happened a handful of times in the last few months (luckily my husband is great at picking up food!), and even though I may feel bad while indulging in my Five Guys, at the end of the day I am glad to not exhaust myself. Obviously, this is NOT something you want to do EVERY night, but for the occasional fit of exhaustion, don't kill yourself over it.
Some days, you will also just have MAJOR cravings for non-Paleo foods. Lucky for me, this hasn't been too extreme, and obviously you don't want to indulge ALL the time, but sometimes, do it. Every so often I just HAVE to have a handful of crackers, so I do. I remember one night I got home from a really long day of work, and all I could think was that I needed to eat a grilled cheese sandwich, or I would die. Literally I felt like I would die without it. Dramatic, I know, but I let myself have a grilled cheese, and I don't regret it. Again, I am no professional, but sometimes you need to let yourself just eat what you crave. Just don't go overboard!
In a related theme, there are also some foods/cravings that will just plain change, which may affect your ability to stay Paleo... so...
Be ready to switch up your go-to foods (and maybe not stay Paleo).
Though I never got any major cravings or food aversions, like I said above, I did have some minor ones, and I did have to switch up my diet a bit. A couple examples:
-Pre-pregnancy, I would eat an apple and almond butter as part of my lunch every day. It was my go-to lunch item for sure. However, early on in my pregnancy, I started to feel revolted at the thought of my both those things. For some reason I just did not want to even go near an apple. So much for my standard lunch fare! I had a little nausea early on (though no sickness- yes, you can hate me), which may have contributed to this, but I cannot really explain it. Luckily, after a few weeks of that, I am now back to enjoying apples. I can handle almond butter, but I still do not want it very often (so random, I know). But at least I am back to eating my nutritious and fibrous apples daily!
-I have definitely been eating dairy. I know, Paleo diets should not include this, but I feel like my body asks for it (okay maybe that is an excuse for me just wanting it...). Regardless, I added in a string cheese (yes, I am an adult) to my daily lunches. Partly because I needed lunch food that I could actually stomach, and partly because I love cheese. I have also been eating yogurt fairly often, which I feel justified in doing. I like having dairy because it helps with pro-biotics and is another source of calcium. I know, I could eat veggies for my calcium, but I really enjoy the taste of dairy, and it has been an easy thing to eat when I find myself starving (which happens often...). I also started craving salty foods like crazy early on in my pregnancy, and I found that cheese was a great way to indulge those cravings (rather than say, chips). And I still cannot get enough cheese (even more than I already did in my life!).
-I had to get used to the fact that I started getting fits of starvation. Right around 12 weeks, I needed to eat ALL the time. I know I could have prepared better, but sometimes I just needed to eat, and the only food around would be non-Paleo. Mainly things like trail mix (part Paleo) and crackers that were just ready to eat right away. You could definitely do better than I did about having Paleo-friendly foods around all the time, but if you don't, just eat something! Try not to indulge in 5 slices of pizza of course, but if you need to eat something right now, do it. Regardless of what it is. Again, not a doctor, but don't feel bad when you need food. The baby is growing so fast!
-Finally, I have switched up my breakfast a little bit too. I used to eat my bacon-egg "muffins" every morning, but I read somewhere that too much bacon during pregnancy could be too much sodium and bad for the baby, blah blah. I have no real basis for thinking this is true, but I thought I may try to cut out some bacon just in case. (Don't get me wrong, I STILL eat bacon every so often). Anyway, instead of the muffins, I started eating a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, along with a smoothie. That way, my breakfast stays protein/nutrient-packed, while losing some of the sodium. Again, this is not scientifically-based, just what I decided to do, based on the internet. Gotta love the internet!
Keep trying out and enjoying new Paleo dinners.
For me, dinner is still the chance to be the most Paleo. During the week, I have still been trying out new Paleo recipes, and also going back to my old favorites. (I mean, just check out my blog for recent recipes!). It has been nice to keep trying out new, delicious foods, and it ensures that the main meal of our day is still meat & veggie-packed, and nutritious. Though I won't lie, I have been adding little bits of cheese to a lot of our dinners- I just can't get enough of it!
I definitely think that we are maintaining a healthy diet, even with these new changes. Yes, I have been allowing myself little treats throughout the day (bites of crackers, chocolates, etc), but for our main meals, I have been trying to keep Paleo.
It has been fun to keep trying out new recipes and keep blogging about them, and it is a nice way to enjoy healthy eating during pregnancy.
So there you have it- I think that staying as Paleo as possible (as well as staying very active) has really helped me stay healthy and kept me from gaining very much weight early on. Though, I guess I should check back in a few weeks from now and see if it keeps up! I am glad that I am getting so many nutrients from the foods I am eating (in addition to vitamins of course), and I still feel really good and healthy during pregnancy. Again, take all my advice with a grain of salt because 1. I am not a professional and 2. Every pregnancy is different. Hopefully I am able to keep up with my mostly-Paleo diet, and I hope I have inspired you to not kill yourself to be perfect! There is no problem with eating what you are craving IN MODERATION, but sticking with fresh healthy foods is a great way to help you and your baby. Enjoy eating and enjoy your pregnancy!