Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surviving the First Trimester: Healthy Eating

One struggle for me so far during this pregnancy has been making sure I'm eating everything I need to eat to make sure Baby and I make it through these nine months healthy and strong. When you're tired, sick and have ever-changing aversions and cravings, eating healthfully can definitely be a challenge. Nevertheless, a nourishing diet during pregnancy is really important and can prevent a lot of complications during later pregnancy and childbirth.

Our eating habits have changed a lot since my pregnancy with Katie, and I'm not willing to fall completely off the real food bandwagon just because I feel yucky (and especially since what I'm eating directly impacts the health of my precious baby!). From my research, the Brewer Pregnancy Diet is a good plan to follow. While my diet is certainly not perfect, the following are some of the things I've done in recent weeks to survive the first trimester without turning into a junk-food junkie. Hopefully it can help some of you other pregnant mamas who are in the throes of morning sickness!

::Don't freak out. Don't spend your time obsessing about checking off all the items on a list of foods you're supposed to eat in a day. While you should try your best, many (if not most) women have a hard time eating everything they're supposed to in the first trimester, and their babies turn out fine. If your diet is mostly healthy, but you eat the occasional popsicle frozen fruit bar to ward off a vomiting episode, it's probably not the end of the world. Try to take a good quality, food based prenatal vitamin, like Rainbow Light to help supplement any deficiencies you may have in your diet.

::Focus on protein. As far as I'm concerned, getting enough protein is one of the most important aspects of a healthy diet during pregnancy. In addition to being so important for the health of the developing baby, a high protein diet can help prevent blood-pressure related problems at the end of pregnancy. I try to eat at least 80-100 grams of protein per day, and I've been amazed at what foods have decent amounts of protein--it's definitely not just meat! The 100% whole wheat bread I've been getting has 5 grams per slice, an ounce of cheese has 7 grams, and the list goes on! If you make a slight effort to eat foods with protein, it doesn't take a whole lot to get up to 80-100 grams, and eventually, counting protein becomes second nature as you learn the amounts in the foods you eat most often.

::Don't buy junk. No matter how badly you crave something unhealthy, if you don't have it, you can't eat it. Just walk on past the delicious smelling donuts at the grocery store bakery and resist. Often, you can find a healthier option that will satisfy a craving. For example, if you have a few moments when you feel up to it, bake up a batch of healthier cookies or brownies and eat a small one when you have a craving for something sweet that just won't go away!

::Allow some wiggle room in your grocery budget. I know for some people this is not an option, but if it is, it's something to consider. If you have some extra, you can buy that pineapple you wouldn't normally buy because of the price but have such a craving for, or the red bell pepper that sounds so good. A little extra also allows for more meat in your diet, which, if you can stomach it, is great for getting extra protein. Dark chicken and red meat are also great for keeping your iron levels up. Just be sure not to over-buy, because if you're anything like me, what sounds good today might be repulsive tomorrow!

What are you doing/have you done to survive the first trimester while still eating healthy, nourishing foods?

Photo Credit

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.


  1. oh mary jo! thank you so much for posting this! i have never heard of the brewer's diet, but when i had my little girl i had some SERIOUS complications arise with preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome, etc. i just browsed this site and i feel a lot more at ease knowing i can come back to it if/when God chooses to bless us again. He just used you in a big way to minister to me!

  2. Ashley, I'm so glad you found the post helpful! :) I had some blood pressure issues at the end of my pregnancy and ended up having to transfer to the hospital during my labor. There's a lot I wish I had known at the time!

    My sister-in-law, Lauren, had a home birth in September and she had started to have some major preeclampsia issues and they were completely resolved using the Brewer diet method!

  3. thank you mary jo. praying your pregnancy will be smooth sailing and that baby will be a healthy ball of energy!

  4. Good info. Very helpful! I think it would be interesting if you posted how your pregnancies have been different. I would love to have number 2, but am worried I would have constant nausea and vomiting again.

  5. In my first trimester{s}, I could barely eat anything but pasta and crackers...you're miles ahead of me! :)

  6. Linking to this tonight in my Why? series. Hope that's okay! Such great information!

  7. Thank you for suggesting my website, Mary Jo! I am so glad that it is helping you and people you come in contact with!

    I would like to add a couple of thoughts. One is that in the first trimester, the placenta is so small that the full amounts of the "Basic Plan" are probably not necessary, so mothers can take up to the 12 weeks to gradually work up to those levels.

    The other thought is that I just want to make sure that mothers understand that the Brewer Diet is not just about protein. Some people have tried just focusing on the protein and have found that then the Brewer Diet doesn't work for them. As you may already understand, the Brewer Diet has 3 primary legs -- protein plus calories plus salt. If a mom skimps on any one of those, the Brewer eating plan will quite likely not work for them.

    There are also several suggestions for nausea & vomiting on the "Morning Sickness" page.

    My best wishes to you all,