First trimester eating can be tricky. You may be dealing with morning (or all day) sickness, craving something very specific, or you may be feeling just fine. No matter your situation and symptoms, you’re also probably more focused than ever on making sure you’re eating well to nourish yourself and your little baby on board.
I’ve always emphasized nutrient density and including what we actually need into meals for myself as well as for my clients. In pregnancy, that includes things like folate, choline, and glycine (which becomes conditionally essential - collagen is a great source). What else do we need? The Fab Four! Protein, fat, fiber and greens are all packed with the nutrients our bodies need to thrive and keep things like blood sugar and hunger hormones balanced - all things that are especially important during pregnancy when your baby is growing and developing in utero.
But when nausea hits and you can barely look at food, let alone eat it, how do you maintain a healthy and balanced diet?
Keep the Fab Four in mind and include protein, healthy fats, fiber and greens however you can during this period. It may look different than your normal way of eating, and that’s ok!
During my first pregnancy, I had no problem blending up all the smoothies, roasting all the veggies and stocking my fridge with turkey meatballs and hard boiled eggs for snacks. I felt great from the start, never dealing with morning sickness or having to vastly change my meal routine.
Baby #2 was a completely different story. Nausea became my norm early on and I couldn’t look at or touch raw protein until week 14 or 15. As a result, meal prep turned into making eggs in all forms and using more prepared items and takeout than normal.
Having plenty of the foods you can tolerate on hand will make snacking and preparing quick meals easier so you can keep the nausea at bay. Simple carbs tend to be some of the most tolerable foods anytime you’re feeling sick and pregnancy with morning sickness is no different. As you’re including more of these than normal into your diet, also be sure to incorporate protein and healthy fats as you’re able in order to keep that blood sugar steady. Managing your carbohydrate and sugar intake is important because of its effects on nausea. The higher your blood sugar spikes, the harder your crashes will be, and your morning sickness can actually be worse throughout that day and the morning following a carb-rich meal or snack.
In addition, your blood sugar control affects both you and baby. For babies, too much sugar in utero increases their chances of getting type 2 diabetes and fighting obesity later in life. For you and your delivery, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are a few of the most common.
Here are a few suggestions to make it through the first trimester of eating:
Fall back on the Fab Four (and modify as needed). This may look like loading up on the one type of protein you stomach (like eggs in all forms for me), being satisfied with the veggies on your burger (even if it’s only pickles) or as carrot chips with ranch, and getting in fiber and greens when you can, like in a smoothie where they’re masked by other flavors.
Include carbohydrates wisely. Stick with simple lower net carb options (like paleo bread, grain free tortillas and crackers) or a smaller serving size. You can also pair them with a little protein and fat. For example, almond butter with almond flour crackers or an apple. The same goes for sneaky forms of sugar, like in condiments, dressings and sauces (we love Primal Kitchen sauces and condiments to avoid that issue).
Don’t be too hard on yourself. When you’re dealing with morning sickness, the reality is you need to give yourself some grace and instead just try your best!! (Oh, and drink lots of water!)
If you’re stumped on how to fit in the Fab Four with a queasy stomach, here are a few of my go-to’s:
Rotisserie Chicken Organic
Grass Fed Burgers (let someone else man the grill if needed)
Pasture Raised Full Fat Cottage Cheese
Organic Gluten Free Chicken Fingers - these are quick and easy to prep, especially with a toddler running around, and are a better option than takeout versions with higher amounts of canola oil
Eggs, in every form you can tolerate
Fish - if it doesn’t work for you, make sure you’re including a DHA supplement, buy pasture raised eggs (2x the omegas of conventional), or grass fed beef
Avocado, nut butter, olives, olive oil, egg yolks, Primal Kitchen mayo (vegan or regular)
Fiber & Greens
Whatever you can tolerate! Roast those veggies, eat those salads when you can. If it’s just not working for you, eat them when and how you can (steamed broccoli, carrot chips + ranch, fermented veggies/sauerkraut)
As always, focus on clean, minimal ingredients, lower carb options and clean condiments to mask any flavors that just don’t work for you. And remember, if the only veggies you can stomach are pickles, it’s ok. Once your nausea subsides, you can get right back to your Fab Four meals and smoothies for a nourished pregnancy, giving yourself and baby all you need during this special time.
My pregnancy course is here! In it, you’ll learn all my tips, tricks, and recommendations for feeling your best and nourishing yourself and Baby well during your pregnancy. Get started today!