Food is my life. I think about it, talk about it, research it, play with it and of course, eat it – every.single.day. In my free time, I love creating new meals and desserts in the kitchen, exploring new markets and trying new flavors at restaurants. So, when I got pregnant, I never would have thought my love of food would disappear – boy, was I wrong. Yep, that’s right, even dietitians who love food have a hard time during pregnancy.
For the first 20 weeks (yes, 5 months), I would get nauseated just thinking about food. And cooking? Forget about it. I couldn’t step foot in my kitchen, let alone try to make a meal without feeling queasy.
I know every trick in the book for healthy eating and healthy snacking and did the best I could nutritionally speaking – but I was so worried I wasn’t getting enough nutrients for my growing baby. I felt much better when my doctor reassured me that the baby would be fine even though I was having an aversion to food.
So I ate what I could – sometimes just saltines and a cup of ginger and mint tea, and other times a bowl of cereal (whole grain, of course, topped with frozen berries and walnuts) or a Greek yogurt smoothie (with some spinach snuck in there), or the go-to apple and peanut butter. And water, lots and lots of water! I kind of lived off of these staples for breakfast and lunch and tried to get in other foods when I could (the thought of eating a salad was unappetizing, but sometimes a veggie sandwich or soup would do the trick).
When it came to dinnertime, I was useless. The last thing I wanted to think about was food cooking in the kitchen. I was able to suck it up a few times and cook a few meals here and there, and my husband (who is a whiz in the kitchen) would make things that were easy on my stomach. But we had to fill in the gaps when our kitchen was “closed for business.”
Luckily, two Healthy Dining restaurants are near us. Rubio’s and The Flame Broiler. Somehow, I was able to regularly eat salmon or mahi tacos with black beans at Rubio’s. Of all things a pregnant woman would want – fish!! I felt better knowing I was getting some omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants and flavors I could enjoy. On nights where I just needed some basic, simple ingredients, I would turn to The Flame Broiler and order the Mini Bowl with white chicken, veggies, brown rice and no sauce (and sometimes vegetarian style without chicken). Those steamed veggies were amazing to me. Soft cabbage, crunchy carrots and perfectly crisp broccoli – yes, please! And double the portion of these steamed-to-perfection-nutrition-powerhouses while we’re at it!
Now that I’m past that 20-week milestone and in my last trimester (less than two months to go!), my appetite is back, I have returned to the kitchen and am cooking up a storm. I’m also out exploring new restaurants and markets. Indian food has been my cuisine of choice lately, and salads are back in the mix again. And, I now have a sweet tooth like never before (nothing a little wedge of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s can’t fix…everything in moderation, of course)!
As we get close to Mother’s Day, I can’t help but think about all the other women in this world who have gone through this most amazing experience of being pregnant. There are ups and are downs, but the sweetest reward is at the end. My husband and I can’t wait to celebrate our little bundle of joy later this summer.