Food! It can be our greatest medicine, our worst poison, or somewhere in between. When I became pregnant in November 2017, out of the blue, I developed a huge sensitivity to many foods. I took a food sensitivity test because I had an extreme eczema breakout, and found out I was highly sensitive to malt and gluten, and many other foods. Eating gluten my entire life with no problem, then all of a sudden, my body hated it! Then, I stopped eating those foods and instead ate lots of probiotic rich foods. Slowly, after several months, the eczema fully disappeared.
Any food sensitivities that may have been dormant could escalate into severe sensitivities or allergies during pregnancy. The body is putting its nourishment to grow and nourish the baby, so the immune system is not as strong as it is normally. When I get a cold during pregnancy, for example, it seems to last forever! I can usually knock a cold out in 5 days, but during pregnancy, it’s usually 10 days or longer. Anything that is a slight problem, will come out during pregnancy because our bodies are just focused on building our beautiful babies.
Therefore, eating healthy is super important during pregnancy! If we eat the right foods we can fuel our bodies and fuel our growing babies. In addition, since I sing and perform, I need to maintain a super healthy diet so I am able to outpour my energy to sing. As any professional mom, whether it’s singing, athletics, office work, or anything else that requires us to use our mind, bodies and souls (so basically every single mom out there!) we need to maintain a healthy diet so that food can become our greatest medicine.
Eating the right portions is tricky when pregnant. Everyone says “you are eating for two”, but my modo is “listen to your body”. For me, it feels like eating for one and a half. I eat just a bit more than I do when not pregnant. For example, I might have an extra tuna sandwich in the afternoon or an extra hearty breakfast. Not eating enough, or overeating, can cause problems. The best way to gadge this is to eat healthy foods and count calories (I don’t, but some people do to make sure they are getting 1800-2400 calories per day). Stop eating when you are full and if your meal didn’t fill you up, add some extra protein like almond butter or hummus.
As a singer, I must always take care of my body and especially during pregnancy since the baby’s health is directly related to my health. Also, don’t worry about gaining too much weight. Trust that your body is gaining just as much weight as it needs to grow your baby. They say a woman should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. I have gained 40-50 pounds during pregnancy and my babies have been beautiful and healthy. And I lost the baby weight within a few months postpartum! (Of course, always listen to your doctor.) A pregnant mom just needs to eat healthy and eat wholesome foods.
My Recommended Diet during Pregnancy
Some of the most important things that I recommend be included in a pregnant woman’s diet include:
Vitamins and Minerals
An excellent prenatal vitamin is key! I use Perfect Prenatal by New Chapter:
I also take the fish oil by New Chapter:
The probiotic by MegaFoods:
I find that protein is so important! When I don’t have enough protein when pregnant I can feel it! The symptoms can be lightheaded or dizziness. My solution to this is a protein shake in the morning. Here is an example:
Blend together (I use nutribullet):
- A handful of dark leafy greens
- Frozen fruit
- Protein powder
- Sweetener (I use agave)
- Almond milk
I also make sure I include eggs, beans, and hummus in my diet.
Iron is extremely important in pregnancy so that one does not become anemic. Dark vegetables, red meat and fish are great. A good prenatal vitamin will have the daily recommended value of iron in it as well.
Fibre in food will help the digestive system. I prefer to have shakes that I make (see above under Protein) which keep the fibre in the vegetables instead of fresh juicing, in which all the fibre is basically thrown out. Fresh Juicing though, is incredibly healthy, and I try to have a fresh juice once a week.
Whole grains are an important part of a pregnancy diet. I love oatmeal during pregnancy cooked with fruit. Blue oatmeal is what I call it when I cook oatmeal with frozen wild blueberries. It’s delicious! Other great sources of whole grains are 100% whole wheat bread (if you can tolerate gluten), quinoa and brown rice.
Calcium is necessary to maintain healthy bones. If you don’t eat enough calcium your body will start taking vitamins from your own teeth and bones to feed the baby! Yikes! I recommend milk, cheese, and yogurt. Yogurt is great because it also has tons of probiotics in it. If you were to add only one dairy product into your diet, let it be yogurt, or even better Kefir (which has even more probiotic power)! If you want to make your own kefir (this is the best way) here are some ways to start:
Water and Coconut Water
Water is so important! Hydration is so important. I personally find the taste of water really boring! When I add a splash of cranberry juice or a squeeze of lemon into my water, I drink more of it daily. I also find I drink more water when I use a great water bottle. It’s crazy but somehow we drink more during the day if we use an efficient water bottle. I use this one by contigo: https://www.gocontigo.com/24-oz-autospout-ashland-limited-release-water-bottle.html
Coconut water is also great; it’s very refreshing and hydrating.
I love fruit! The sugar in fruit (fructose) is actually great for you. It’s nature’s dessert. During the summer my favorite fruits are cherries, peaches, plums. Bananas are great for potassium. I go to a local farmer’s market once a week to buy organic, fresh fruit.
Vegetables are what we were meant to eat. Unfortunately, most of us eat far far less than what is optimal. Culturally, it’s just not part of our society to eat vegetables all day long. However, our bodies thrive on them. Carrots, kale, avocado, celery, spinach, leeks, tomato, cucumber, beetroot, mushrooms, etc, you name it! There are so many vegetables and every one is good for us!
Studies have shown that eating 6 dates a day during the last four weeks of pregnancy can significantly improve labor and make labor go faster. More information here: https://www.mamanatural.com/dates-during-pregnancy/
With all that being said, I must admit, when I’m pregnant I crave a good old fashioned meal from ‘In and Out’! I love my double double with a vanilla shake and fries! I don’t feel guilty about it either. It’s all about a balance. We have to have some fun. Everything in moderation. Ice cream, cookies, cake, etc. are all fine, but just make sure you aren’t eating these things all day, every day.
An occasional trip to ‘In and Out’ isn’t going to harm you or your baby. Just keep in mind whatever you are eating, your baby is eating. Imagine your baby is 18 months old, sitting next to you, and waiting for you to feed her/him. Would you give your baby a glass of wine, for example? I wouldn’t in a million years! So I don’t drink alcohol at all when pregnant. Would you give your baby a bowl of yogurt, strawberries and granola? That’s definitely much better! Keep in mind you are your baby’s cook. Feed her/him and you well.
You are awesome, mama! Keep on cooking, eating, and enjoying this special, amazing time in your life! I give you a virtual high five for your amazing self-care!
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