My Adventures with Eating for TwoPosted: April 12, 2015
Of all the ways that pregnancy has changed my body so far, one of the most interesting, frustrating and illuminating has been the way that it has changed my relationship with food. From day one, my taste buds and stomach have been altered by this beautiful little life growing inside of me. I’d like to take you on my journey with pregnancy eating, so far.
From the get-go, I noticed a change. I could smell everything, including the good and the bad. There is an urban dairy farm not too far from Parkallen. On days when the wind is right, I can smell the awfully distinguished aroma of dairy cow. Uggggh. But on the flip side, I could time my steam popped popcorn in the microwave (using our handy dandy epicure silicone steamer) to my nose, preventing burnt kernels and maximizing overall popedge.
My taste buds were also exploding! Every bite of food was so much more flavourful and I just could not get enough healthy nutrients (lucky baby!). I wanted dark, leafy greens, like broccoli and brussel sprouts, and nutrient rich whole grains. I remember telling Justin one day that I could “Taste the sun!!” when eating a particularly tasty meal. Oh boy, did I not have a clue of what was coming…
Texture, Nausea and Aversions
I classically began to feel morning sickness and queasiness around 6 weeks. Sadly for me, this fell right around the Christmas holidays. That super strong sense of smell and taste that I loved so much the week before became my mortal enemy, turning my stomach at the slightest whiff of whatever my belly didn’t want to eat at that particular moment. Various complex textures would turn me off so easily: the stringy, chewy texture of cooked chicken or turkey would completely turn me off. Fish, with its strong smell and flaky texture, had me pushing my plate away. I could only pick at rich foods like a honey-glazed ham or a classic comfort meal with all the holiday fixings.
And how my preferences changed on a dime! No longer could I stomach the smell of dark leafy greens, and I quickly developed a strong aversion to all cooked vegetables. That included my once-favourites: roasted veggies, steamed broccoli, sauteed peppers and baked cauliflower. The smell, sight and texture of each sent me running to the washroom. I also gagged at the very mention of any baked goods – Cake, pie and brownies all turned me off and made me feel queasy just thinking about them…
While it didn’t take away how badly is sucked, my doctor told me it was all 100% normal and that my baby was growing nice and strong. When I expressed my worry about not getting enough healthy nutrients for baby, she told me not to worry about it, that it was temporary and that I was in survival mode.
For me, survival mode meant consuming anything that didn’t make me want to hurl. That meant a lot of starchy carbs that lined my stomach and (partially) kept me full: Crackers, bagels, granola bars, and the dreaded peanut butter toast. I had many evenings where I would try and be a little creative in the kitchen by making what would have resembled a regular Parkallen Home Kitchen meal (like my go-to curry, or an easy pasta), and my stomach would turn, and I wouldn’t be able to finish. Still hungry, I’d turn to go-to stomach stabilizer: Peanut butter toast or a bag of goldfish crackers…
In the first half my my pregnancy, I was always hungry. I kid you not: I would eat breakfast, head to work and be ravenous the minute I got there. I began packing obscenely large lunches just to prevent me from heading down to Timmies for a breakfast sandwich every single day. I got a few gentle teases that my pile o’ snacks at work was getting a little large and that my lunch bag was laughably huge, but hey – what can you do when you’re literally starving one hour after you just ate?
When I gained 8 pounds in a month, I started to get worried that this would become a trend, so my doctor gave me strategies on how to keep my ravenous belly full for longer: eat more lean protein including non-fat dairy and low fat cheeses, reduced fat nut butters and pulse dips like hummus. Also, keep hydrated – a dehydrated belly is a hungry one. Luckily, following her advice and keeping active, things started leveling out and began to improve for me.
New Discoveries and Cravings
I noticed a very curious change to my eating habits through the upheaval: Things that I had never before thought to reach for began to become incredibly appealing. I’ve never been one to crave cookies, but I couldn’t get enough of that that chewy, sweet, melty chocolatey flavour (hence my attempt to make them a little healthier). Another weird craving: Salt and vinegar chips. I am so not a fan normally, but one day, a coworker was eating them and I got a whiff, sending me into a tailspin of “needing to eat them right now.”
I was delightfully surprised when I began to crave a nice cold glass of milk. (While I’ve always loved all dairy products, I have never been one to pour myself a cold one.) I also deeply craved fruit in shapes and sizes, particularly tropical fruit. Bring on the mangoes, papaya and pineapple. I am also loving all apples, oranges and grapes. Baby loves fruit, I guess!
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
At around 13 weeks, I began to feel better and my cravings began to subside. While there were moments that my belly would still keel at the smell of broccoli, and I would get sick over a bag of mini donuts, I was able to stomach a wider range of food, and to put aside the peanut butter toast for a while (thank GOD!). Slowly, my aversion to all veggies began to wane (Welcome back, bell peppers! I missed you! Hello mushrooms! I am so happy to see you!), and I could be creative in the kitchen once again (huzzah!)
While I know that my journey is far from over at only half way there, I am happy to add more variations to my diet and to feed my little one a variety of tasty foods.
Mommas-to-be, what has your experience with pregnancy eating been like? Did you have a rough first trimester? What were your cravings like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!