Q&A: What Does Your Pregnancy Diet Look Like?

On Monday I’ll be 16 weeks pregnant and am heading for a routine check-up with my amazing OBGYN. You know, I feel a little guilty that I haven’t shared much about my pregnancy on this space. Cravings, nausea, diet, food aversions – I haven’t covered any of those juicy topics since announcing the happy news.

There are a few reasons for my lack of baby talk.

First of all, I was obsessed with my diet in my first pregnancy (aren’t we all?) and may very well have gone overboard with sharing information. So yes, while the excitement ofย  life inside of me is every bit as wonderful as the first time around, I have cooled off a little on the nutritional facts and calorie counts.

Secondly, it was an extremely uneventful first trimester. No nausea to speak of (I know some of you are going to hate me for that), no serious food cravings, save for one late-night rice pudding hankering that had me up until well after midnight, stirring a pot well of milky rice with vanilla beans. Oh. So-worth-it.

Thirdly – and you knew this was coming – I’ve been so darn busy. Really. And not just with two kids, two blogs, a new non-profit, an upcoming speaking gig, a home, garden, and family to take care of. No, the projects keeping me up late I can’t even talk about yet.

So with a busy schedule and a routine pregnancy, there hasn’t been much time or need to talk prenatal food and diet. Until now.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t gained any weight. Like, nary an ounce.

This is unusual for me, as I gained at least five pounds in the first trimester with both my other pregnancies. So, I’m making more of a conscious effort to eat as nourishing as possible, without overly obsessing.

What is nutritious diet when pregnant? Well, I’m no medical expert, and opinions expressed here are my own, but there are a few basic guidelines that expectant mother’s should follow.

Nutrients especially beneficial in the first trimester are Vitamins A and D for proper organ development. These nutrients can be found in butter, eggs, and seafood. Fortunately, I love eggs and seafood has been particularly kind to me (ie: agreeable to the finicky stomach) this pregnancy.

Meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, and eggs are great sources of calcium and protein –essential in the second trimester for good bone and muscle development. Here’s where I hiccup a bit; red meat hasn’t appealed to me since mid June. Except bacon, naturally!

All of the above, plus plenty of fish is a good route to go for the third trimester. Fish (or cod liver oil, if you can stomach it) provides the all-important Omega-3’s which are essential for brain development. Our whole family enjoys fish, so tossing tilapia fillets in panko and baking them has become a popular quick dinner.

In addition to those foods mentioned above, pregnant mamas should aim to eat plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage). They should avoid processed foods as much as possible and pile on the grains and legumes. Oh, and avoid stuff like alcohol, caffeine, raw milk cheese…but you know all this already!

My Pregnancy Diet: A Snapshot

While serious nausea has stayed away this pregnancy, I still battle an extremely sensitive stomach. I’m also satiated much faster at meals, and find myself hungry an hour later. Consequently, I’m eating 5-6 small meals a day instead of the usual three.

I described my pregnant state to a friend as feeling like I had “…the body of an eighty year-old and the palate of a two year-old.” Fortunately I can feel my strength slowly returning, but the prenatal take-out orders are still on the bland and boring side.

So here’s what I’ve been eating around the 16 week mark.

Breakfast

Whole grain cereals, as described in my recent back-to-school breakfast post. Baked oatmeal is a favorite, as is polenta with maple syrup.

Second Breakfast

Eggs, toast, grapefruit juice. I’m usually ravenous by 9 am. Oddly enough, so is Mateo (3), so he joins me for a poached egg or two. Sometimes we’ll whip up a yogurt lassi with whatever fruit we have on hand.

Lunch

Homemade soups, full of autumn vegetables. Minestrone is popular, as is Roasted Carrot (minus the cilanto, as it’s not to the kid’s taste).

Sandwiches. I’m on a serious BLT kick; tomatoes are so incredible right now – why not?

Plenty of raw vegetables and fruits. We stop at a local market at least three times a week and take our pick of the local bounty. Oddly, one vegetable at its peak now that I just can’t stomach is corn. Go figure.

I drink watered-down tomato juice on ice with a twist of lemon and an occasional celery stick.

Snack

New apples with slices of 2 year cheddar. This snack improves even more when Russet apples- my absolute favorite-come into season.

Organic rice cakes with sunflower butter. Apple-Oat muffins. Dried fruit, including homemade apple chips.

Dinner

Leafy Salads. My young garden is producing baby spinach, arugula and oak leaf lettuce. These tender greens combine to make a delicate salad full of folic acid and other nutrients.

Lots of Lentils and Beans. As I mentioned above, red meat just doesn’t do anything for me right now, so lentils have been nourishing us instead in meals like this Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. Look for my post Monday on 5 ways to serve lentils.

Frijoles Rancheros, with our own homemade flour tortillas.

Mounds and mounds of roasted vegetables. My current favorite being roasted cabbage with a squeeze of lemon. I’m going to have to give that one up when I begin breastfeeding!

Roast chicken. Both Lemon & Oregano Roast Chicken and Classic Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables.

Comfort food such as risotto and pasta are enjoyed frequently, featuring seasonal vegetables and simple preparation. This week we devoured mac & cheese, as well as a delicious leek risotto.

Snack

Baked apples, oatmeal cookies, zucchini bread, slivers of dark chocolate. These snacks usually tend to be on the sweeter side!

Midnight Snack

Hot cocoa with goat’s milk. Popcorn.
Plain yogurt, great for those probiotics. And occasionally, puffed organic quinoa with milk.

Looking back, that looks like a lot of food. A lot of snacks! But my portions are small and I put in very long days (usually 6:30 am – midnight) so I need all the nourishment I can get.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear from you – even if you are not currently pregnant! Think back to that loooong nine month stretch and what you ate to keep you fueled.

What is your pregnancy diet looking like? What are your food aversions and cravings? What has been the biggest challenge for you with this whole pregnancy diet?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimรฉe's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. 1. Cracking up about “second breakfast”. I ate second breakfast all the time too when I was pregnant! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Why no cabbage when breastfeeding?

    3. I craved apple juice for some weird reason. I was literally drinking about a gallon and a half a week by the end of my pregnancy.

    • My babies always had ‘gas issues’ so I avoided cruciferous vegetables like cauli, broccoli, cabbage, etc when breastfeeding.

      • I just thought I would say that eating cruciferous vegetables may cause gas in mom but not in babies. Science shows now that gas is formed in the digestive tract and breastmilk is made up of what is found in the mother’s blood plasma (not digestive tract). I hope all the lovely mother’s to be or mother’s reading this to know that you can eat anything while nursing.

  2. Oh, second breakfast! When I was in my first trimester I would eat at home, but take a pint jar of cooked oatmeal and fruit with me to work to eat slowly between first breakfast and lunch!

    I’m at 39 weeks today, so I’ve been lucky that all summer I’ve been able to throw together a big salad with fresh fruit and nuts to eat–and do that cheaply with food from the markets! I read Nina Planck’s Real Food for Mother and Baby and have loosely followed the trimester guidelines you mention, but my general rule of thumb is: If I’m hungry for it, I eat it!

    Lifesavers have been: dried fruit or granola kept in a baggie in my purse, cups with straws (how is it SO much easier to keep my water intake up with a straw?!), and a lot of snack suppers for those days I am just Tired! We’ve kept hummus, veg, pitas, popcorn, yogurt, fruit smoothies, etc in the dinner rotation regularly ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Heated goat milk? I couldn’t do that. The rest of it sounds good.
    I’ve traditionally been very nauseous with my pregnancies, so I ate far too many salty snacks and ginger tea. Not good for the weight gain.

    With my first daughter I had a serious aversion to Chinese food, especially noodles. That translated to all pastas. It took months after her arrival to eat it again. With my second daughter I had to keep away from seafood. It started before I even knew I was pregnant!

  4. My babies are made with love and Blue Bell ice cream.

  5. I am currently 10 wks. pregnant and nauseous 24 hours a day. I’m eating crackers, muffins, peanut butter and Cheerios. And smoothies when I can stomach them. This is a difficult time and I long to eat “normally” again!

    • Hang in there, Amy! At this point, it’s just one day -one meal- at a time, right?

    • Amy, I am 12 weeks and have felt the same way. I have been doing some research and it may be the carbs that are making us nauseous. Then we eat more of them (crackers, muffins, etc.) and feel better maybe momentarily and then feel awful again. Something about insulin resistance in pregnancy and hypoglycemia and a symptom of hypoglycemia is …nausea.

      I experimented on myself and ate salads, fruit, watermelon, cucumbers, vegetables, meat and eggs (okay, so no grains or sugar) for two days and felt better. Then I made a pecan pie (with honey/syrup, not hfcs or sugar) and felt AWFUL after eating it. And then I ate a bagel today and felt AWFUL again. Just thought I’d pass it on.

  6. I ate SO poorly when I was pregnant. I’m talking Taco Bell every week. I couldn’t eat fish because when I was about 9 weeks pregnant I got sick on some dill salmon in Paris and I couldn’t bring myself to eat it again. I’m very jealous at your mild nausea – I was sick from week 9 to week 20!

    If I’m lucky enough to get pregnant again I plan to do so much better by my body and baby. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I am a much better cook and more knowledgeable about food than I was 5 years ago!

  7. Are you eggs pasteurized? I don’t even know where to find any… I miss “runny yolks” so much, get tired real quickly of scrambled eggs. With my daughter 4 years ago I had an aversion to broccoli. I’m mid-first trimester now and mostly never seem to know from one day to the next what I’m going to find appetizing or not. Except for sushi, I crave that about every other day, lol!

  8. I love this! It’s not just great pregnancy food but great post pregnancy food too. I’ve been in need of ideas to try. Good luck with the remainder of your pregnancy!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait for more updates even if it’s food related!

  9. I’m almost 14 weeks and my food aversions and nausea are finally fading a bit. I seem to alwasy crave comfort food and food small children like to eat like mac and cheese, pb & j and ramen noodles! I’ve also been craving meatloaf, beef stroganoff and chicken pot pie. Good thing fall is finally here!

  10. In my first trimester I always stave off nausea by eating lots of starchy foods often….and end up gaining a lot at the beginning. This normally tapers off, but I’ve typically eaten what I craved, not necessarily the most healthy. I am expecting my 6th and for the first time was diagnosed gestational diabetic. My body threw a temper tantrum much like a small child as I pried the sugary treats and drinks and most starchy carbs from its grasp. This lasted a couple of weeks. Then my blood sugars normalized, and – gasp – I started to feel stronger and healthier than earlier in my pregnancy! Heartburn has disappeared, and my legs, arms, face have all thinned out a bit while babe is still growing like crazy. I basically eat low glycemic, high protein. (breakfast – 3 eggs, 1 piece whole grain toast, milk…..lunch – lentil or minestrone soup or bean and quinoa salad, one piece multigrain bread, milk, raw veggies……supper – some sort of bbq’d meat, grilled zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, milk……snacks include nuts, cheese, plain yoghurt and berries, more berries, hard-boiled eggs, veggies and hummus) I’m due in a week, and am very grateful that my arm was twisted into seeing the light about healthy eating during pregnancy, it really does change how you feel!

  11. When I was pregnant, I ate about a thousand snacks, but couldn’t handle a whole meal. I probably ate enough sweet potatoes to sustain a small country as that was my standby for dinner. I’d slice and bake them like french fries or just wash and stick them in the oven straight up. I carried dried fruit and nut trail mix with me EVERYWHERE. In my third trimester, I hit nesting which wasn’t cleaning for me, but cooking. One night, in the middle of August, when it was about a hundred degrees outside, I made Chicken Piccatta, Roasted Baby Reds, and Steamed Broccoli. It was SO good, but I almost passed out from the heat in the kitchen. That was the only really remarkable food of my entire pregnancy. Well that and the 100 calorie packs I kept by the bed for when I woke up. I didn’t have any nausea problems unless I got hungry (thus the incessant snacking).

  12. Congratulations, Aimรฉe! I am in week 11 and just came out of the “survival” stage – eat whatever seems appetizing and will stay down. Coconut popsicles, poached eggs on toast, cran-raspberry juice, and chicken noodle soup were my safe foods.

    I have recently had serious cravings for artichokes! I throw some butter in a pan, sliced mushrooms, sliced red bell pepper, sometimes a little spinach, some artichoke hearts, a little chicken broth, and cook it up, then serve over whole wheat pasta topped with parmesan cheese and pepper. It is so yummy!

  13. Ugh! I typed this whole thing, pressed submit and my computer shut down! :/

    Anyway, I had gall bladder complications during my pregnancy. I opted to eat a restricted diet of NO FAT/NO CHOLESTEROL and waited for surgery after delivery. I was just hoping for no more blockages or attacks.

    My diet looked like this: Morning: Oatmeal, fat free yogurt, WW Toast or an occasional egg. Mid Morning Snack: Gigantic Bowl of Seasonal Fruit; Lunch: Veggies w/ leftover protein from previous nights dinner; Mid Day Snack: Big Bowl of Salad; Dinner: Fresh Veggies w/ protein (mostly salmon or chicken breast). Sweets: Fat Free Fig Newtons; Lots of Sorbet; Drank lots of water and an occasional glass of grape or cranberry juice.

    I never had any cravings! Made through the rest of the pregnancy and had surgery a month after delivery. Everything went well.

  14. oooh, i am so sick right now. i’m munching on carbs (pretzels) to take the edge off the nausea and then trying to sneak in some protein to help regulate my blood sugar. The problem is I work so I can’t eat as frequently as I would like too. That would help soo much! I’ll try to sneak in some small meals as much as possible. That should help!

  15. Pilar Morales says

    Hola Aimee soy de Guatemala me encantan todas tus publicaciones. en mi embarazo todo me dio nausea, hasta la semana 10-12 me normalice. Ahora puedo comer de todo, lo que mas me gusta es el yogourt con granola, manzanas, piรฑa, bananos, burritos de pollo, mucho hielo, pepinos, uvas, etc… casi solo frutas y verduras. Bendiciones ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Thanks very much for this post. I was over-obessed with diet for my first pregnancy. We’re trying to get pregnant again, so this was a good wake up call.
    I wanted to take cod liver oil, but wasn’t sure it was safe for pregnancy….now I just might do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Great post Aimee! I am glad you are feeling well, I remember those days. I was working during my pregnancy and a lunch shop near me had something called the Health Sandwich. It had avocado, sprouts, roasted red pepper, a thin slice of good cheese and tomato with some kind of balsamic vinaigrette on homemade 5-grain bread. I was ADDICTED! Sadly, my favorite vegetable, Artichokes, were off the menu for a full 9 months. Whenever I tried to make them my stomach would turn. ๐Ÿ™ Eat up Baby Borque! xx

  18. I am 36 weeks (with baby number 5) and all I can say is all of this is making me hungry!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I lived on eggs for my first trimester- now not so much. You can really over-do things during pregnancy. I have gone through a phase with my last three where I completely lose my appetite. I try to stay aware but it seems that a busy life and loss of appetite make for weight loss at the beginning of my third trimester. Not very ideal.

    Since I am nearing the home stretch I am trying to keep my body loaded of healthy fats, “birthing” smoothies, and lots and lots of vitamin filled foods to get my body ready for labor.

    I think the best thing to do when pregnant is NOT worry about your weight. It absolutely drives me crazy when someone watches the scales and numbers too closely. Make sure you are eating good foods and as much of it that your body wants. Our bodies are smarter then we think we just have to be in tuned enough to listen.

    Plus chunky babies are so much easier then tiny babies who need to nurse more often!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I’m currently at 7 weeks and in the midst of morning (more like all day) sickness. The only thing that keeps me from throwing up every morning is my sweet hubby making me an egg over-easy when I get up. So I’m glad to hear that eggs are a great source of the needed A & D for the first trimester. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s good to know too that my baby won’t suffer because I’m not able to stomach the sight of fruits and vegetables right now.

  20. I am at 21 weeks in my first pregnancy and it’s been interesting trying to figure out nutrition. 1st trimester I had very little sickness and ate pretty well, though I was working a desk job and sometimes I’d get really hungry at inopportune times. Almonds were my fallback then, sometimes with fruit. Currently we’re living with my in-laws and I’m not working anymore, and eating healthy (and not grazing unnecessarily) is much more of a challenge! Fortunately, though, we get good farm-fresh eggs and I aim to eat them nearly every day, as well as good meats, milk and fruit (when we can afford it). I can’t wait to have my own kitchen again and have the budget to spend liberally on good quality produce!

  21. I am 13 weeks with my third baby and am just now regaining my ability to eat again. But I feel horrible because of my diet because with the first two babies I had no sickness, no cravings, no nothing and didn’t worry about the food…and with this baby I am just eating whatever I can get down (thankfully the list of okay foods is ever widening).

  22. During my first trimester I was always nauseous, and the only thing that helped was to be constantly eating (with the weight gain to go with it). I’m at 20 weeks now and have gone back to a fairly normal diet, but usually with that second breakfast squished in! Eggs and bacon have been delicious cravings.

  23. 32 weeks pregnant and I’m hungry constantly. Im always hungry, work part time outside of the home and the challenge is finding good snack on the go. Any recommendation.
    I love, love, love your blog.

  24. I’m at 18 weeks now with my first baby, and this is post is very helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

    I feel like I’m eating like a hobbit – breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, etc. And still I’m always hungry! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Thank you so much for this post!! Like a lot of people commenting, I’m also prego, 11 weeks and feeling the yuckies every day! I needed a food source like this to get more ideas of things I can eat that sound good. All of these ideas sound great! So thank you for sharing them! I’ve been eating eggs and fruit this time around (baby #4) and it’s been so nice wanting to eat fruits and veggies because with the others it was hard to stomach them. I am hopeful the ‘yuckies’ will end soon and I’ll start getting more of the good stuff in my system. Good luck to you and your growing babe!

  26. You mention eating a lot of tilapia. Of course fish can be a wonderfully healthy addition to our diets, but much farmed fish (as tilapia usually is) has detrimental effects on the environment. It’s like pig farming in water, basically. Also, tilapia itself is not the healthiest fish choice. Here’s a link to a helpful piece in the New York Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/02/science/earth/02tilapia.html?_r=1&hp

    But there are many other sources of information available explaining why it’s better both for our bodies and for the environment to eat sustainably-caught wild fish.

    Good luck with your pregnancy!

  27. P.S. Tilapia in particular is very low in Omega-3s and high in damaging Omega-6 fatty chain acids.

  28. I eat pretty healthily.
    For breakfast i usually have rolled oats with skim milk, banana (grown on my tree :-), walnuts and organic honey. Or i’ll have some boiled eggs on wholemeal toast or a 2 egg omlette with a ton of veggies or quinoa.
    Morning tea is usually a peace of fruit, and some almonds, maybe an occasional skim coffee.
    Lunch can be anything from a small portion of lamb curry, to homemade chicken burgers, to salad sandwiches but i always have a ton of salad with my lunch.
    Afternoon tea might be some vita wheat biscuits with cucumber and cheese, a peice of fruit, a slice of wholemeal toast with avocado or some home made sweet potato fries (oven baked).
    Dinner can be anything from fish to prawns to chicken to tandoori lamb with vegies and salad with brown rice or wholemeal chapattis.
    Dessert might be a piece of fruit, glass of milk or a piece of dark chocolate depending on what i’ve eaten that day. []

  29. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation.

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