Hi, my name is Erin, and I’m a first-trimester-crappy-food-aholic.
Time for a confession, friends! Maybe one you’ve been wondering about, sitting back and waiting for, and perhaps one any fellow moms-to-be will be relieved to hear. So here goes nothing:
I haven’t eaten like a nutritional therapist for three months.
I’ve eaten foods at which I would otherwise turn up my nose, foods I would never dream of putting in my grocery cart, foods I would NEVER in a million years recommend to any nutritional therapy client, foods I would – and did – feel guilty feeding myself, my husband, and my unborn child. *hangs head in shame* Oh, the drama.
I feel blessed and cursed with my bout of first-trimester morning sickness… blessed in that I know some friends who had experienced far worse than what I did, and cursed in that… well, let’s just say none of it is particularly pleasant. For three months – pretty solid, starting around week 5 – I woke up every day feeling hungover, and if and when I did get out of bed, that any sudden movement might throw my stomach into somersaults. The feeling lasted from the moment I woke up until I laid down at night. It was not pleasant.
As a result, I didn’t want to eat – anything. After a few days of even water making me feel nauseous, I caved and asked Tim to pick up some gingerale. Yep, high fructose corn syrup-laden gingerale, in all it’s carbonated, sugary glory. It tasted like nectar of the gods and though I was well aware that it was nothing I would normally put in my body, I took comfort in the temporary relief it brought.
After about a week of eating barely anything (aside from a few cardboard-y saltines, yep, those too), I felt nauseous but starving and panicked that I was doing the growing bean inside me a major disservice by depriving it of food all together. Now I know that that’s not exactly true, but at the time, and even now still, it’s anxiety-provoking to think that now I was responsible not only for my own nutrition but for another life as well! YIKES! NO PRESSURE!
The Pizza Incident
I should probably mention that, by the time I felt like I was ready to try eating, the entirety of my normal paleo diet suddenly seemed repulsive to me. Red meat? Forget it. ANY meat? Not a chance. Eggs? Don’t even say the word. Lettuce, vegetables, anything remotely healthy? No, just no. The only thing that sounded good to me was a salty, brothy bowl of packaged, msg-laden ramen noodles, a cheesy bowl of kraft dinner, or a plain, not-too-saucy slice of cheese pizza. I KNOW, people, I know. Shut it.
So when I confessed my guilty desires with Tim, he promptly ordered a pizza (come to think of it, he was probably all-too-eager, after basically fending for himself for any and all meals for an extended period of time). What happened when I took that first bite surprised me: instead of my stomach turning into a hot queasy mess, my entire body relaxed. It was as though I was finally giving it something it wanted – needed – and it was thanking me with complete and utter relief. I will never forget the feeling – it was so odd!
A Lesson in Non-Attachment
From that point on, I cut myself a little slack. I didn’t go completely crazy and give the excuse that I was eating for two or that, welp, this is all I can stomach, so I might as well eat ALL THE CARBS. No. I cut myself a little slack. I let go of the idea of perfection, because that’s all it is – an idea. I made a commitment to be non-attached to my previous lifestyle as a nutritional therapist, to be present and accept where I was at the present moment, and to understand that this, too, shall pass, that it was temporary. I wouldn’t feel this way forever. (Thank you, yoga.)
It’s hard to remember, especially when it does feel like it will be forever. But it was important to just take it day by day.
I am particularly grateful for my healthy diet and awareness of my body leading up to my pregnancy and that I have been able to maintain that awareness to a certain extent. What I noticed as time went on, as my appetite began to improve little by little but as I continued to allow myself to eat breads and grains and sugars, was that it was no longer just “first trimester” sickness I was experiencing. This is the part where some of you seasoned moms will roll your eyes or maybe even stop reading all together, because I’m going to tell you that the uncomfortable bloating, the fatigue, the lack of energy, the joint pain, the acne – all commonly considered normal, unavoidable pregnancy symptoms – that, I believe, those symptoms, for me, were diet-related. And I say this because, after a week of getting back to a 90% paleo diet, most of those symptoms have subsided for me. In the last week I have been less bloated, more energetic, my skin is clearing up, and I’m sleeping better (aside from the 37 times I have to get up to pee, of course).
I am beyond pleased to share that the 14-week mark has come and gone and that first phase of misery (and my stint with malnutrition) is over. Here are some of the delicious, primal-friendly meals we enjoyed last week:
- chicken sausage with roasted sweet potatoes, eggplant, and zucchini
- roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and homemade grass-fed beef Italian sausage
- RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME grilled green chicken with sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers and portabello mushrooms
- crock pot pork shoulder with tangy creamed swiss chard and caramelized onions
- leftover shredded pork with red peppers, romaine lettuce and avocado over cilantro lime cauliflower “rice” (a la, Chipotle’s carnitas bowl – YUM!)
Because of our (yes, our, Tim has been in this with me, obviously) compromised diet over the last three months, we both feel ready for a little detox. Before you get your panties in a twist, I should probably reconsider my choice of words. We’re not exactly doing the Master Cleanse over here, so relax. So what will our detox look like? Probably a few weeks of 80-90% primal blueprint, easing into a 21-day sugar detox to rid ourselves of the sugar cravings we’ve both been feeling (Trader Joe, if you tempt me with your dark chocolate peanut butter cups, I swear!). More on the 21DSD in a future post… stay tuned!
I know everyone has a different experience when it comes to morning sickness and pregnancy in general. What was your first trimester like? Did you feel guilty about eating junk? How did you get back on track?