We recently sat down with one of our incredible Registered Dietitians, Kalin to ask her pressing questions about all things related to food, diet and prenatal care. Keep reading to hear our questions and her very helpful, supportive answers! Q: During my pregnancy, I’ve experienced food aversions to many of my go-to staples, and I feel lost on what to eat without having to spend endless hours finding recipes. How can I eat more than noodles, rice and breads?
I know how real and challenging food aversions can be during pregnancy. The best advice that I can give is to let go of the rules you have about what makes a meal “complete” or “good enough”. Instead, get curious about what your body is communicating to you, and focus on finding meals and snacks that are filling and satisfying (which might change throughout your pregnancy). Remember that just because your body signals may not feel normal, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be trusted. For example, if having chicken with potatoes and salad makes you feel sick just to think about, try a smoothie with Greek yogurt, milk, fruit and nut butter, or a Greek yogurt parfait with fruit and granola. I would much rather you eat something that is appealing and satisfying instead of trying to fit in the “perfect” meal, and you end of feeling sick because of it. Aim to include a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre, but broaden your definition on what this can look like to ensure that you are honoring what your body needs!
Q: I feel like my nutrition was such a priority in my first pregnancy. This time around, I have a job, an older child, and so many things on my plate, I just eat what I can, when I can. How can I prioritize my nutrition?
As an RD, of course I believe that nutrition matters. But how you feel about your food choices is far more important than the actual food itself. As women, it is important to acknowledge the society we have been raised in – one that has reinforced that our worth is based on perfecting our eating habits and our appearance, and that there is always something wrong or that needs to be changed about our bodies.
When it comes to your relationship with food, pregnancy is probably the first time in your life that you have been given “permission to eat”. However, this message is countered by the common rebuttal that you are NOT eating for two. So essentially, eat more, but not too much. This kind of messaging is so frustrating. Being stressed, anxious and feeling shame or guilt around your food choices can affect your health in a negative way.
So what is the answer? We want to find a place where you are truly able to give yourself permission to honor what your body needs. Contrary to what is taught, our needs fluctuate from day to day and week to week. It is NORMAL to experience days when you feel hungry, and days where you don’t, especially during pregnancy. Overall, it is critical during pregnancy for you to get enough to meet your own needs, and to support your baby. Eating a variety of foods and removing any shame, guilt or anxiety around how “healthy” your meal is will be far more helpful than putting extra focus or attention in to ”perfecting” your eating. In general, cravings during pregnancy are normal and can help your body get what it needs at various stages of development.
Q: I have an older child and my body never went back to the way it was before I’d ever gotten pregnant. It was a huge issue for me postpartum and I felt depressed about not bouncing back to my former self. I’ve tried hard to work on body positivity since then, but it’s been hard. With this pregnancy, I’m already being targeted with ads for diets and I’m worried about getting back to that negative place. It’s making me question what I’m eating now. What do I do?
My heart goes out to all humans who feel like they have to shrink their bodies to be worthy. You are inherently worthy, regardless of how your body looks. And our bodies are not meant to stay the same. Period. All these messages about getting your pre-baby body back are simply BS. After having a baby, your body deserves to be appreciated for what it’s endured, and most importantly, cared for – but trying to shrink it? That isn’t health. There is so much I can say, but here are a few strategies to help you focus on caring for yourself, instead of trying to shrink your body:
- Get critical about who you are following on social media – are the people you are following sharing content that is triggering for your own well being or how you view your body? If so, unfollow and replace with individuals that share positive messaging, and support more diverse body representation. Be mindful that our society doesn’t portray diverse pregnant bodies – we see the basketball belly and that’s it, but pregnancy is unique to your body and therefore can look very different than what you see portrayed in social media. This is more than okay, and this is so normal!
- Buy or get hand me downs of clothing that fit your body. Focus on how you feel in your clothes, not the size.
- Associate your changing body with growing a baby, and marvel at how amazing that is.
- Simply spend your time and energy on things that enrich your life!
Are you looking for support when it comes to nutrition? Connect with one of our Registered Dietitians at Pine today!