Nutrition is an ongoing journey and you have to keep evolving as your body, lifestyle and environment continues to change. What works for you today won’t necessarily work for you in one, two or five years from now. Pregnancy is a great example for the need to adapt your diet as your body and health changes.
If you have read my blog “Food Diaries of A Pregnant Dietitian” you know the struggle was real for me in the first trimester!
Now I’m into the second trimester and the nausea has passed, I am back to eating a regular, whole foods diet. There have, however, been some differences I have noticed to my usual eating patterns. To be honest, I haven’t consciously made many changes to my diet but I'm simply listening to what my body wants and just eating intuitively. That means the odd bowl of spag bol still gets a go from time to time! When I wrote down these changes though I noticed there was most likely a logical reason behind each one! Here is what’s changed so far (and my guess as to why):
More carbohydrates //
Glucose is the baby’s primary fuel source for growth. Given I only consumed a moderate amount of carbohydrates prior to pregnancy, I definitely felt the need for more glucose and energy foods. I have added in overnight oats or porridge in the morning, or I will add some sweet potato to my scrambled eggs. I’ll have more roast veggies at lunch or the occasional wrap or piece of sourdough rye.
Smaller meals and snacking throughout the day //
This baby is constantly raiding my bloodstream for glucose 24/7 to nourish itself. As a result, blood sugar levels drop sharply so smaller meals throughout the day means I can regularly replenish the nutrient supply and my energy levels. This is vastly differently to my usual diet that contained little snacking and the occasional intermittent fasting.
More fats from organic butter //
My diet is usually filled with fats like avocado, oily fish, olive and coconut oils as well as nuts and seeds– but I’ve had big cravings for butter! Maybe it’s just an excuse but it could also be that it contains essential nutrients for the development of the baby’s brain and nervous system. I’m loving it on steamed veggies, in sweet potato mash, lathered on some sourdough or on an organic boiled corn cob for a snack!
More sea salt added to foods //
As many as 80% of pregnant women crave salt. One theory for this is that during pregnancy, a woman's blood volume increases, so this taste change may be tied to a greater need for sodium. I’m just going with it and adding Himalayan sea salt liberally to foods. This type of salt contains many different minerals and is extremely healthy. For the athletes out there that are training hard, this is also very important for you to add to foods. It’s the refined, processed table salt in most packaged and processed foods that you want to avoid.
More dairy from goats feta and yoghurt //
This one makes sense as more calcium, Vitamin D and protein is required for the baby’s developing bones, muscles, heart and nerves. I didn’t eat much dairy beforehand due to an intolerance (from a gut infection) so this has been a noticeable change for me. I’m adding goat’s feta to veggies like broccolini and in salads, as well as having some Greek yoghurt with overnight oats and berries.
More cooked foods, less salads and raw foods //
I used to love salads and snack on raw vegetables but this has pretty much stopped. It could be due to the digestive system relaxing during pregnancy, so eating cooked foods requires less energy and strain on digestion. It may also be from the change in season and it’s just a lot colder in Melbourne!
Total calories //
In the second trimester you need an extra 1400 kilojoules per day. This is roughly equivalent to 2 pieces of sourdough toast with avocado and a piece of fruit. I haven’t really noticed feeling more hungry or needing extra food but the intensity of my training has dropped significantly so it’s probably just all evened out.
As I am writing this, I did actually have two pieces of 85% dark chocolate with a cup of herbal tea at 10:30am – that’s certainly different but I'm just going with it.
In summary, listen to your body and eat intuitively. When you are eating a natural, whole foods diet with minimally processed foods, you are much more able to notice these signals. Your body always knows best, I promise.