I had always held the rather cavalier belief that eating right when expecting would come instinctively. I’m a nutritionist, after all. I’ve had numerous pregnant clients over the years, and I’ve talked them through their various complaints: they crave sugar and salt, they’re exhausted, healthy foods hold no appeal. And, of course, it’s easier to rip open a bag of chips than whip up a batch of steamed veggies.
Yet I just assumed that when I became pregnant, none of these issues would apply to me. I was in for a rude awakening. In those first few months, my baby was no bigger than a blueberry, but she’d already taken charge of my taste buds and willpower. The mere sight of a vegetable made me nauseous. Protein mainstays such as salmon and egg whites couldn’t have been less appealing. Whole-grain anything seemed revolting. Yet food was always on my mind—specifically the starchy sugary kind that I’d told my clients to avoid. I craved gnocchi and cheese, challah bread, fried dough. (Do you see a trend?) Saltines dipped in mayonnaise grew to be one of my favorite snacks. I fantasized about McDonald’s fish sandwiches. After hitting a new nutritional low by inhaling a pint of ice cream before breakfast, I knew it was time for me to eat my words. Gradually, I started replacing the junk with healthy foods I did enjoy, such as nuts, low-fat yogurt, and oatmeal. The following challenges were difficult to overcome, but I worked hard and did the best I could. In sharing them, I hope to help you avoid the same pitfalls.
1. I can’t stand vegetables!
They’re full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, but many pregnant women can barely choke them down. For one thing, pregnancy heightens our sense of smell, so we taste bitter flavors more. Many women report that the vegetables they once loved, like mushrooms and broccoli, just stink. (The culprit is sulphur.) The trick is to add veggies to foods without smelling them. Some ideas:
Stir pureed carrot or butternut squash into tomato-based pasta sauces (to avoid cooking smells, use baby food, if you like).
Stir applesauce, pureed pumpkin, bananas, or prunes into a low-fat brownie batter or muffin mix instead of oil.