I recently received the following question from a lady we will call, Tory.
“I just found out I’m pregnant with my third child. I would feel elated, and do, if I weren’t carry 70 extra pounds and am at the heaviest of my life. I feel a little drained and a little toxic, and need to treat myself and this child with a lot of love and care, especially in how I nourish us over the next 34 weeks. I was hoping you could help. If you had any recipes, food ideas, etc, that I could try to help my body sustain this pregnancy so that I could be as strong, healthy and vital as possible, I would surely appreciate it. “
Thanks so much for the question, first of all, Tory, because I believe that it is such an important one. And congratulations on your pregnancy! Pregnancy is such a special time, but I know from experience that it can be a draining time as well. Your body is doing an incredible work, so it’s no wonder that it needs a little special care.
As I have considered what advice I have to offer, I have thought of several things that I hope will be helpful for you. And everyone else, the comment section is open for sharing advice too!
My first piece of advice is to watch your stress levels. You have two little ones (whom you love, but who have many needs), you are pregnant, and you are frustrated with your weight, all things that could lead to making you feel stressed out. Sometimes trying to eat as nourishing as possible can cause more stress as you worry about whether you are doing it right.
Stress uses important B vitamins (needed not only for you, but for your baby as well), it’s hard on your adrenals, which are already working hard during pregnancy, and leaves you without joy. Stress also makes you hold on to weight.
All to say, eliminating stress is the first step to having a nourished body. Here are three tips that may help you feel more peaceful.
Determine to do your very best, and not stress over what you can’t do. We all have limitations, we all can’t do everything. Do your best, but don’t stress about what you can’t do.
Take 20 minutes everyday to do something that rests you, whether it is taking a nap, reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a walk. If possible try to have those 20 minutes be “alone time”. If we live in a constant state of busyness, we will get fatigued and tired out. Take 20 minutes to relax. This isn’t a selfish act, because it helps us be better mothers if we have a little time to regroup ourselves.
And finally get your rest. Nothing makes me feel more tense than feeling over tired. And, besides, sleep is very important for you to get as a pregnant woman anyway.
Eat Nutrient Rich Food (eliminate nutrient light weights)
This is the step that will not only nourish you and your growing baby, but also make sure that any pregnancy weight you gain is healthy weight.
Examples of Nutrient Rich Food: bone broths (chicken,beef, fish), raw whole milk, raw cheeses,
dark green veggies, soaked and cooked legumes, nuts and seeds (soaked and dehydrated), high nutrient grains, like quinoa, grass fed butter (read my post on a few brands I like), and other healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and tallow, and eggs, liver, grass fed beef and lamb, and cultured drinks and vegetables.
Examples of Nutritional Light Weights: All refined food, and an excessive amount of carbohydrates and sweeteners.
As a pregnant women you should make sure that you eat plenty of protein, and get plenty of healthy fats (which are crucial for the formation of your babies brain and for the absorption of vital nutrients). Coconut oil is an excellent fat that provides many benefits, while not making one gain weight.Butter is so important too. Nuts and olive oils should be consumed in moderation, if you are watching your weight, though they have many important advantages as well. Pumpkin seeds are a “superfood” which provide many needed nutrients and protein without a fattening effect (we love them once they are soaked and dehydrated, but find them not as tasty when raw). I find this guideline for pregnant and nursing mother’s very helpful. No, I have never come close to eating all of the “daily” food they recommend, but reading this guideline helped me set my goals a little higher.
Plan To Simplify Your Menu
My biggest suggestion for menu planning is to plan things simply. Let’s just say that how I was cooking for Joel and I when I was pregnant wouldn’t have supported a food blog. I was also trying to concentrate on healing, nourishing food, so I found recipes what were simple to make, but nourishing as well and rotated them.
What My Dinner Menu Looked Like
Second Meal: I would throw the bones of the roasted chicken in a pot with several raw chicken legs, carrots, celery, and onions, and a bit of apple cider vinegar and let it simmer for 24 hours. This broth would form the base of nourishing soup (served with bread or muffins and a green salad) for another meal.
Third Meal: A simple Italian Rice salad would be the main dish on another night, using rice, peas, grated carrots, scrambled eggs, and leftover chicken tossed with a dressing like my everyday salad dressing.
Fourth Meal: Another night would be a beef night. I would use high quality ground beef, and cook it up with either curry powder and onions, or rosemary and garlic, and eat it over rice (sometimes with soy sauce ) and veggies on the side. Other times I would make a simple beef stew.
The other nights were a little less consistent, but I wish I had included a fish night, as fish is so important for pregnant women (just make sure you use low mercury fish). A meal with chicken liver would have also been a wonderful addition, though my morning sickness would have prevented that from happening the first part of my pregnancy (I am still not serving it once a week, more like once a month!). I think we also had a pasta night using brown rice pasta (Trader Jo’s has the cheapest price I have found). My marinara sauce is very easy to make too (and I made it a lot!). Eggs and toast make a simple dinner when life is hectic. Crockpot Quinoa and Chicken is a cinch to make, as is Chicken Soba Noodle Soup.
For breakfast, Crockpot Breakfast Grains, is quite easy, as is this cream of wheat recipe. We also did a lot of smoothies, which you can easily make very nutrient dense. And eggs are always wonderful.
So that’s what worked for me during that time, but I am sure you will find recipes that please your own family as well.
Two more thoughts. If you have the freezer space, try to double up your recipes so you can freeze half of it for another night. You can also do this with baked goods. It’s only slightly harder to double a recipe, and you get twice the amount of food out of it. Oh, and if anyone ever offers to help with the cooking (friends, family, husband) take them up on it, and have them help you cook up a few freezer meals, or put together some pots of bone broth.
Another mom I know of will make large pots of soaked grains, and use it in a variety of ways throughout the week. This not only helps her save money (using the same grain helps her keep things simple), but time and energy as well.
In the end, don’t feel bad about keeping it simple, just try to find kid friendly food that is simple yet nourishing to make, and rotate them as needed.
Get fresh air whenever possible (if the sun’s out try to get your vitamin D from it), take short walks (with your children in the stroller if need be), but don’t over do it. When I was pregnant, I took whole food supplements (which were more expensive, but you get what you pay for). Radiant Life is also selling a new vitamin B product that looks wonderful. You could ask your doctor or midwife about it.
Finally, enjoy this special time with your two other children, because, as you know, life will be even busier with another newborn in the house. Blessings on you, and your family and your newest one!