‘Now you need to eat for two’ or ‘now you are allowed to eat for two and anything you want.’ Those are probably some of the sentences I have heard the most since I am pregnant. Some people are joking when they say that but most actually really mean what they say. Nutrition, how much one eats and weight gain are huge topics in pregnancy for most women. Rightly so, because what we eat during pregnancy has a huge impact on the baby’s development, well- being, and the baby’s health and choices later in life. In this post I will share my beliefs around nutrition and weight gain in pregnancy and some of the rumors around the topic, which I do not agree with.
I love eating and food and cooking are big parts of my life. Like many other woman I always thought I would get big once I am pregnant and that I would be overtaken by cravings and eating much larger amounts of food than I usually do. This assumption was definitely influenced and formed because of how pregnancy is being portrayed in society. To me it always sounded like pregnancy and everything around it, including eating, is something that would happen to me and that I would not have much influence over how it will affect my life, my choices, and me in general. I am now in my third trimester and have understood that this is absolutely not true. I have gained weight and my appetite has definitely grown, but all to a normal and healthy degree (so far at least :)).
I have learned that it isn’t all about the amount of kilo grams I gain, but much more about what I eat. Education and informing oneself instead of just listening to society’s ideas around food and pregnancy has truly helped me and I believe it is very important for everyone. The sentence ‘now you need to eat for two’ is absolutely true. It however doesn’t mean that a pregnant women needs to eat double the amount of food, but rather double the amount of nutrients.
Eating nutritious is important for all of us, but in pregnancy more than ever. A pregnant woman is not only responsible for herself but also for the little baby inside of her. The growing baby depends on our choices.
Different nutrients support different developments in the baby. We also know today that not only does what a mom eats during pregnancy influences the baby’s development in the womb but it also plays a big role in the baby’s health throughout life. All kinds of diseases are influenced by what the mom has eaten during pregnancy, from diabetes to ADHD. Being aware of this information has automatically motivated me to keep eating healthy during pregnancy. I decided for myself that it is completely fine to eat more and gain weight during pregnancy, but with nutritious food.
Cravings are a real thing. It is completely ok to satisfy these with pizza and sweets at times, but it is very important to most of the time satisfy the cravings with nutritious food. I believe that cravings are our body’s way of telling us what nutrients we need. When I am craving something savory and fatty I try to satisfy that craving with for example whole meal bread, avocado and nuts or whole meal pasta with a homemade tomato- spinach sauce and feta cheese. That usually satisfies my craving and provides the body with lots of nutrients. Sweet cravings can easily be satisfied with nutritious food instead of empty calorie choices. A great and satisfying choice is dates and all kinds of recipes with dates or dried fruits. Balance is key and in this case it does not mean 50/50, but the ratio of nutritious food should definitely be much higher than the ratio of food poor in nutrition.
The beliefs we hold influence our choices. If we for example hold the belief that once we are pregnant we should eat for two and eat whatever we feel like the cravings will take over, guiding our behavior. If we understand that first of all there is no need to eat for two (amount wise) and learn to take a moment to check in with ourselves we can see that cravings are our body’s way of talking to us, needing more nutrients.
Important to acknowledge is also the role our emotions play in guiding our choices for food. Pregnancy is a highly emotional time in life. Every woman is influenced differently by it. It is important to be aware that cravings for food are at times cravings for emotional nourishment and not nutritional nourishment. Getting in touch with your internal world and with your body helps in distinguishing between the two.
Pregnancy is a great time to get familiar with what nutrients which food provides. If you are planning a pregnancy it is great to spend some time on that already before, but if not starting during pregnancy is completely fine as well. Food is a fascinating topic. It influences our bodily functions but also our state of mind. There is food known to boost our mood and food, which is good to eat before going to sleep, since it has calming properties. These are just two examples of many. As Hippocrates already said ‘let food be thy medicine’, do not make food your enemy or something, which will negatively influence your well- being. Even if some of us are not fully aware of it eating a nutrient low diet, high in fat, sugar and processed food will lower your well- being and leave you feeling empty.
Eating a nutrient dense diet during pregnancy is so important for your baby’s well- being and your own as well. There are certain things we cannot influence during pregnancy, but our nutrition is something we can influence and chose.
Wishing you a great weekend.