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Gentle Nutrition During the First Trimester

The first trimester of pregnancy can be a challenging time for many reasons.

The nausea, “morning” sickness aka all day sickness, weird smells, cravings and aversions, and extreme fatigue.

It all wears on you, and some days, you’re literally just fighting to get through the day.

I’m happy to be entering the second trimester though for all of these reasons, and because I can share with you all now.

I wanted to write this post about gentle nutrition during pregnancy to write about how I have utilized some of the principles of intuitive eating, specifically gentle nutrition.

Gentle Nutrition During Pregnancy

As a dietitian, I am well aware of the key role of nutrition during pregnancy. I’ve had to take a step back and tell myself what I tell my clients.

I’ve re-read so many of the best intuitive eating books enough to know how to apply it to myself.

I’ve had a lot of days with zero appetite. Nothing at all sounds good.

Some people may have an increased appetite in early pregnancy, but that was not the case for me this time around.

This is why I’m so grateful for my prenatal.

This is so odd for me, as someone who eats around the clock every day, usually every 2-3 hours.

avocado and peanut butter toast with eggs on white plate for breakfast

I’ve had to force myself to eat and drink because I know it will make me feel better and how important it is to get adequate food and nutrients.

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And during this time, I’ve really been self-compassionate. My motto has been, “something is better than nothing.”

Many days went by without veggies. I’ll be honest: some days, eggs, cheez its, goldfish and lemonade got me through the day.

And honestly, I know things will change when I’m 38 weeks pregnant. I’ve done this twice before – it always does!

I’ve also relied alot on some sort of pregnancy safe electrolyte drink every day to aid in my hydration.

bag of goldfish multi colors

That’s why a good prenatal vitamin is a must as a back up. I did a lot of research before settling on Thorne.

Another part of gentle nutrition for me has been having a quality protein powder. I definitely haven’t had my appetite for meat and dairy foods, so I have felt worried about meeting protein needs.

I’ve mixed protein powder into everything, from turmeric oatmeal, to water, to chocolate milk, to smoothies, etc. I also have a good collagen powder that I mix in as well.

Vital Proteins collagen peptides

If you’re confused about choosing a protein powder, read this post about protein powders for runners.

It can apply to anyone – you always want to choose a third party verified brand!

No Appetite While Pregnant? Try These Tips

Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve had no appetite:

  • drink pregnancy smoothies and loaded them up with nutrient-rich and calorie-rich foods -full fat yogurt, hemp seeds, chia seeds, kefir, nut butters, avocados, etc.
  • snacking on crackers/bread and bland foods – these are a must, and if able, add butter, nut buter
  • eggs and toast – I somehow can always stomach eggs
  • have energy bites pre-made (always) so I can grab and go and eat it in the car or at my desk, etc.
  • adding cheese to things (melted cheese on chips/nachos is amazing)
  • switch to whole milk/full fat dairy for cereal, coffee/tea, snacks. Get the calories where you can!
  • eat every 2-3 hours. I know it sounds hard, but even if it’s a few bites or sips of something, do it!
turkey taco skillet with quinoa and veggies in blue cooking pot

I’ve also focused on other health-oriented tips, like:

  • taking my prenatal
  • Aiming for 20 oz water before coffee in the morning
  • drinking fruit juices if I can’t stomach fruit
  • taking a probiotic
  • resting vs forcing exercise when my body needs rest
  • relying more on take out or meal delivery services when I don’t feel like cooking (here’s my comparison of the best meal delivery services for athletes)

I’ve also woken up hungry in the middle of the night from not eating enough before bed SEVERAL TIMES.

I’ve always been pro-night-time snack (benefits of a protein snack before bed), but I’ve either misinterpreted how hungry I was, or my body wanted to make up from not eating enough during the day.

homemade carrot cake energy bites

While it’s a pain to get up and eat in the middle of the night, I do it. I keep a bunch of kind bars and healthy no bake snacks by my bed, too.

I’m not perfect and pregnancy is a totally new ballgame!

As I mentioned, learning your needs during pregnancy is such an exercise and practice in learning your body. And then intuitive eating as a mom will change again.

I know with 2 and 3 kids my answers my look different than when I wrote that post with just one little one.

Gentle Exercise

I have been very loving of my body and gentle with the approach to exercise. Alot of times it’s just been walking, or complete rest days because I haven’t had the energy for me.

A reader asked if I did anything physically to prepare for getting pregnant, and I really didn’t. I haven’t been in intense training for a while (the last race I ran was Rock n Roll Virginia Beach last September).

wearing half marathon medal from rnr Virginia Beach

Not to say you can’t get pregnant right after intense training. I actually got pregnant with Hannah within a month after finishing the Detroit Free Press Marathon, but I didn’t really have any other stressors at the time.

With two kids now, I feel more stressed all the time, and knew I wanted to just focus on consistency and movement that felt good heading into this pregnancy.

I was doing lots of strength with the peloton app and bike. I love the tread and cycling boot camps and HIIT classes.

It’s been a little gentler since becoming pregnant, though. Currently, I’m avoiding high-intensity, pounding classes because that’s just not what my body needs right now.

standing in front of mirror after work out session

I’m very fortunate to be in a great place with my body and intuitive to its needs.

Rest days and off days don’t bother me. I’m not currently tied to just running as I have been in the past, and to be honest, it feels way better to focus more on weights and strength.

In our summer travels, we have lots of hiking and outdoor activities planned that I will enjoy (here’s my recap of Deep Creek Lake things to do). A beautiful outdoor mecca in Maryland!

In terms of running, I was fortunate enough to continue running in the third trimester during my first pregnancy, and in my second, I did more cycling.

If I can continue to run a few days a week during this pregnancy like I did during the first two, great.

If I can’t, that’s no big deal – I know I’ll find other outlets and ways to move my body that are enjoyable. I already have plenty of other alternatives.

I’ve also been doing a lot of stretching and yoga because I’ve felt extremely tight, especially in my neck, back and shoulders (pretty normal spots for me).

Regular massages are a must for me and it’s taken some time to realize that.

making cookie batter with toddler in kitchen

Otherwise, I’ve been enjoying time with the girls and prioritizing my clients with the low energy levels, but I’m excited that I’m starting to feel more like myself!

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