As many of you know or have seen on my instagram page, I am well into my pregnancy and officially 21 weeks pregnant! Only ~6 more weeks until I enter the third trimester, which is blowing my mind because I know that time is going to fly by.
For being 21 weeks along, I think it is safe to say that I’ve entered the stage of pregnancy I was always told about. The stage where you feel beyond great. I have energy, my face is finally not breaking out anymore (thank you for that baby girl) and my husband and I can finally feel our baby kick. I’d definitely call this the honeymoon stage, especially when compared to the first trimester.
In addition, I am also starting to work up quite the appetite. I swear, I eat a meal and an hour later it feels like I have been starved to death. Of course, as many assume, many of the responses I have heard to this has been “well you are eating for two, Mary.” And while, yes this is true in some respects, it is not in the way many think.
Eating for two has been a myth that has been around for more years than I know of. From my mother to my grandmother, this was always the general assumption when it came to pregnancy. Unfortunately this mentality has been a long standing problem in keeping women knowledgable about what they should be eating. It has been a myth that often steps in between women maximizing their upmost health potential for both them and their unborn child.
When you are growing another human being, your body goes through extraordinary lengths and works up quite the appetite, as it should. And while you at times (like I am at this very moment) may want to “eat for two,” what is important to remember is that eating for two DOESN’T mean that you are eating TWO adult-sized servings. It also doesn’t mean you can throw all your inhibition out the window and over indulge in those sugary/ fatty meals you never once let yourself have prior to becoming pregnant.
Now please do not get me wrong because as I have previously discussed and have so passionately preached, I am a firm believer in balance.I love eating as healthy I can but you bet your butt, I eat dessert every once in a while too. Balance should be thought of as a “every once in a while treat” as opposed to a full green light to pile your plate high with what ever you want.
Another point I’m sure many women might be thinking is “well I am going to gain weight anyway so what does it matter what I eat or what I gain?” Well, it does matter for both you and of course, for your baby. According to the CDC, women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are more at risk for the following:
- Less accurate ultrasound results
- Increased discomfort (backaches, heartburn, hemorrhoids, achey joints, and more)
- Risk of Developing Preeclampsia
- Risk of Developing Gestational diabetes
- More likely to have a large baby (which can lead to more medical intervention during birth, such as vaginal forceps/vacuum or C-Section)
- Higher risk of having a premature labor
- Birth defects (i.e. heart issues or neural tube defects)
- Difficulty with post pregnancy weight loss and obesity
When it comes to eating during your pregnancy, it is not the time to worry about adding muscle or worrying about putting on or losing weight. You want to look to maintain what you already have. More so, it is also important to focus on ensuring that you are getting all of the essential vitamins and supplements so that you can help your little bundle of joy grow. Many of these, aside from taking a prenatal vitamin, can be found in eating clean and whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, etc). Another reason why a diet solely in sugar and junk isn’t ideal.
Of course, I know that cravings during pregnancy are a real thing because I, myself, have had many of them (chocolate being my number #1 right now). I also know with fighting off nausea, it may be a case of eating whatever it is that you can keep down. I have been there too (hello pasta and white rice in the first trimester).
The best way to go about eating when you are pregnant is to just keep in line with the diet you were already exposed to (perhaps cleaning it up some and ditching that fast food), while adding an additional 250-300 calories per day in the second trimester and then 500 calories per day, in the third trimester. Keep it simple, focus on eat small and frequent meals. In addition, aim with each meal to include a protein (turkey, chicken, lean beef, etc), fat (olive oil, nuts, avocado, etc), carb (whole grains, rice, etc) along with a veggie or fruit and you’ve got yourself a kick butt meal! As for temptations and splurges, take them and enjoy it! Don’t go beating yourself up but don’t overdue it either.
Of course, I know eating for two sounds like fun. I, for one, love to eat and the idea of being able to have a plate bigger than my head of spaghetti and meatballs sounds lovely. However, as a soon-to-be-mama, I know I need to keep my mind on what is now most important: my child.
More than ever, we are now put in a position to lead by example and treat our bodies right. I personally have been eating as best I can because I know that it makes me feel better, especially as I am steadily going up on the scale. Having a healthy understanding and relationship with food is a goal I will aim to teach my little one but I know that I can’t do this, if I don’t have that foundation.
So when all is said and done, do the best you can with what you got. Trust me mamas, your body and your baby will thank you not just now but well after your pregnancy!