When I first found out I was pregnant, I was determined to make it my healthiest pregnancy yet. I knew I would be stretched to my limit taking care of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, teaching part time, and running my business and blog, so I needed all the extra energy I could get!
Unfortunately, my plans were derailed when morning sickness set it, and lasted until well past the halfway point. Bland carbs were all I could stomach for the longest time, and walking was the only form of exercise I could manage. I was tempted to feel guilty about it, especially when I read articles and blog posts that claimed eating healthy and exercises would "cure" morning sickness. (Whoever wrote those articles has never thrown up at the mere sight of a green vegetable). Instead I decided to make the best of the second half of my pregnancy.
As I reach the end of my third pregnancy, one thing I realize about healthy eating while expecting is that it's all about equipping yourself with the tools to succeed. When I plan our meals, and only buy the items we need at the grocery store, there's no chance of me going overboard with chips, cookies, or candy. And even though I'm exhausted by the end of the day, my husband and I both know exactly what needs to be made for dinner, so we don't end up stopping by a fast food joint. If we keep junk food on hand, however, my willpower and energy are gone by the time the kids go to bed, and I know I won't be able to resist.
With those thoughts in mind, I would love to share what I eat on a daily basis as a pregnant woman. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor or dietitian, so this is not meant to be advice to anyone else. This is also not EVERYTHING I eat ever day. I never count calories - I simply eat when I feel hungry, and do my best to make informed, healthy choices.
My Pregnancy Meal Plan - A Day in the Life
My day has begun with a nutrient-dense chocolate meal replacement shake for the past 3 years, and that doesn't change when I'm pregnant! I absolutely love them, because they can be a meal all by themselves with the perfect balance of protein, carbs, and fats, packed with vitamins and minerals, and surprisingly filling. Even when I'm going out of town, I'll bring a canister of shakes or some individual packets with me, because I crave them, and can tell a difference in my energy levels when I don't drink them. This was one of the few things I could stomach when I had morning sickness. Slowly sipping on a shake helped give me life again. I have read that protein is so important when you're pregnant, and these have 24 grams of very high quality whey protein in them. My doctor suggested chocolate milk to help my morning sickness, and when I asked him about these shakes instead, he was delighted! Most days I just drink a plain old shake blended with water, but other days I'll blend it super thick and make it into a protein bowl drizzled with natural peanut butter to add some extra calories (like the picture above).
I have my shake at 5:30 in the morning right when I wake up (otherwise I feel sick). By the time my toddler wakes up around 7:30 or 8, I'll have a small bowl of cereal or a piece of whole wheat toast with a banana. This is also the time I take my prenatal vitamin, because my 3-year-old asks for her kid's vitamin, and it reminds me that I need to take mine, too!
Of course I also I have my small cup of coffee everyday with a few tablespoons of natural creamer in it, but usually don't even end up finishing it. I enjoy it more for the comfort and the routine, and don't necessarily feel the need for caffeine. I'm getting better about drinking a whole water bottle before I even have the chance to sip my coffee, so that I'm not feeling dehydrated for the rest of the day!
My lunch is spent supervising students most days, so I need convenient, healthy options. Some weeks I might make myself a crockpot of chicken tortilla soup to last for the whole week. On the weeks I'm not as prepared, I'll grab a nutrient dense meal replacement bar along with baby carrots and some sort of fruit, like grapes or berries. The bars may not look like much, but they are surprisingly filling and packed with whey protein (18 grams). Some days I even take the dairy free options made with plant-based protein - somehow they are still so delicious, and don't even have a weird texture!
Our dinners are basically the same every single week. We are busy, have young kids, and are on a budget, so we keep things simple. One of my favorite healthy, easy dinner options is burrito bowls! I make shredded crockpot salsa chicken, rice, and quinoa. Then we chop up veggies, and add toppings like cheese or sour cream. Each person can build their own, and the only requirement for the kids is that they have to include at least one veggie. I love mine with crispy green bell peppers!
I end up getting hungry about every 2 hours, so I make sure to have healthier snacks packed or on hand in the refrigerator so I'm fueling myself throughout the day. Nothing worse than an energy crash from too much carbs and sugar! (Unless it was from a donut...in that case, worth it). I have learned from lots of reading on the subject that it's best to pair a protein with a fruit or veggie for a snack to help stay full longer.
Some of my favorite snack options are greek yogurt with a bit of granola and a fruit, an apple with natural peanut butter, chopped veggies with string cheese, or my homemade protein balls or clean eating mini muffins.
Besides my morning cup of coffee, I mostly stick to water throughout the day. Lately I've been carrying around a gallon jug of water to remind myself to keep drinking. If I don't, the humid Florida weather causes my hands and feet to swell, which can actually be kind of painful! I don't always hit 128 ounces by the end of the day, but even so, my water intake has improved tremendously. I plan on carrying this habit over to post-baby, when I'm nursing. I refill the gallon jug once or twice throughout the week so I'm not spending a fortune at the grocery store.
If I feel the need to switch things up, or if I feel like my energy is dragging a little bit, I'll add a few scoops of an all natural electrolyte drink and 1 scoop of my favorite fruit supplement which is loaded with cold-pressed super fruits like açaí berry, mangosteen, noni, pomegranate, and wolfberry (and only 1 gram of sugar per serving - that's a win in my book!). I can't wait to add the greens back in after baby is born, but unfortunately they're not recommended during pregnancy. Goodness knows I need all the help I can get when it comes to consuming vegetables!
And lest you think I'm a perfectly clean eater (ha!), I had to make sure to throw in some real life. I am not immune to grabbing a few of my kids' crackers, or sneaking a few chocolate eggs from their baskets. It's about balance, right?
So that's my daily meal plan while pregnant! It's not perfect by any means, but I strive to find balance and continue to make healthier choices. My main purpose is to fuel my body to be able to complete my work to the best of my ability, and the foods and beverages I choose during the day have such a big effect on how I feel!
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