I never thought I would be writing a blog like this. As a dietician and as a human who has seen the benefits of healthy eating multiple times, within myself as well as in others, never did I think pregnancy would change things this much. The desire to eat the processed form of carbohydrates became a real event in my life. Now I pride myself on balance. I recommend trying to follow the clean eating philosophy as a general rule, but eating treats and spoils with emotional awareness and choice. So I am never the person who says no to a homemade cupcake at the office.
My whole philosophy is based on nourishing ones body. Creating nourishing thoughts, a nourishing frame of mind and focusing on the nourishment level of your diet – rather than the caloric level. I like to help women gain awareness about why we eat, and why we don’t eat. Rather than having outrageous expectations on perfect food diaries or scale measurements. Food is discussed as a symptom not a cause.
When I fell pregnant, eating nourishing foods wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. My body just wanted sugary and salty foods more than normal. Now this isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things BUT I certainly thought I would be the ‘super-zen-clean-eating-purist-mother to be’ and I wasn’t and that worried me in the beginning. Now there are two things at play here I believe. There is both a physiological and a psychological reason for desiring these (low nutritional value) carbs.
I was blown away when I realized how much of the little child develops over the first 12 weeks. Almost every organ is created, along with some bones, a blood system and of course a very active little heart. Carbohydrates are energy giving foods. No wonder there is a need for slightly more over this period. Now the old dietician in me would have said, yes BUT one can then choose more 'whole carbohydrates' to help baby’s organs develop. The problem was, oats just wasn't happening at breakfast when toast with jam and cheese was available. This leads me to my next point. The psychological side is a real life thing as well. I think there are a few elements to the psychological side too.
Firstly, once you find out that you are pregnant you immediately think you are going to have cravings. It is ingrained in us, as we have heard it our whole lives. So the sugary carbohydrate (specifically banana bread) sits in the display unit of Seattle coffee shop, and a little voice inside your head says, ‘You are really craving that banana bread, and you are pregnant, so I suppose…’. I am laughing as I write this. Then there is the justification that comes with it. Once I knew how much development happened in the first trimester, I felt justified having that second and third banana bread for the week. Then there was the ‘it's for the baby, stop being so hard on yourself' voice. And so the mind plays a role as well.
I am writing this because it’s the truth. No more will I be as adamant to new moms about healthy eating – I will always take into account the whole picture, and try and support them through all these thoughts over the first trimester. I now recommend coming to see a dietician from your second trimester. Your first really is all about observing the mind-body-baby interaction, I think!
And just like that, at 12 weeks the cravings and the voices disappear and I become my old self again, ready to nourish my body. This trimester now holds the changing body reality. This will be my next blog post. I have had to dig extremely deeply into my self love box, as seeing these changes certainly did ignite fear, worry and guilt – guilt for feeling negative, because I have worked so hard to finally conceive. And the gift of growing a human is SO much greater than having a cellulite and stretchmark-free body.