When I found out I was pregnant, I quickly decided to revamp our eating habits in exchange for a fresh, less processed, and overall healthy pregnancy diet. We had spent the last couple of months adjusting to our new life together here in Holland, which meant tons of wine and chocolate! We moved into a teeny apartment that needed a lot of love (aka floors and paint!), went on a Christmas holiday to Czech and Poland, and started my Netherlands Visa application. This didn’t leave room for a lot of healthy food choices!
My mother-in-law sent me the book “What to Expect: Eating Well When your Expecting“ by Heidi Murkoff (part of the What to Expect Series), which quickly became my bible throughout my pregnancy. The book emphasizes getting enough of your Daily Dozen which includes:
- Protein: 3 servings daily
- Calcium: 4 servings daily
- Vitamin C: 3 servings daily
- Green leafy and yellow veggies: 3-4 servings daily
- Other fruits and veggies: 1-2 servings daily
- Whole grains: 6+ servings daily
- Iron rich foods: a little everyday
- Fat: 4 servings daily
- Salty foods: a little bit!
- Fluids: at least 8 glasses a day
- Prenatal supplement
Eating for two?
In addition, the book emphasizes the fact that you are not eating for two! Well, technically you are, but one of you is the size of a pea (although at this point she feels like a giant watermelon!). You should really only take in an extra 300 calories during your first and second trimesters, and 500 during your third trimester.
Have you read My Guide to Pregnancy Nutrition? It explains pregnancy nutrition in more detail 😉
My coffee addiction
I decided to give up caffeine, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, due to its link in increased risk of miscarriage. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done! Drinking 2-4 cups of coffee a day just to stay awake is what I always did, and in the middle of my first trimester fatigue I felt like a walking zombie. I still drink coffee now and then, especially when we have guests or we want to go out for a little cappuccino but I have been able to get rid of it from my daily routine. I have found a (not so healthy) replacement for my coffee. In eastern Europe I fell in love with Nescafe’s and they have become my one guilty pleasure that I enjoy throughout the day.What I missed most about my morning cup of coffee was not the actual coffee or the caffeine, but the ritual of having a warm cup of joe every morning. The Nescafe’s are a perfect replacement for my morning (and sometimes afternoon) ritual. They have a relatively low caffeine content (about 10mg per cup) and even have caffeine-free options.
Sugars, processed foods, and organic!
In addition, I gave up most sugars and processed foods (with the exception of my Nescafe’s). We starting incorporating more veggies into out diets and I started centering out meals around veggies instead of around a meat or carb source. After my sister came to visit, when I was about 26-27 weeks, Daniel and I got inspired to start buying organic veggies. We did some research and found that pesticides during pregnancy can have a negative impact on brain development and could impact a child’s IQ. Of course, we are skeptical of the things we read, but we thought we would try out organic to see if it fit into out budget. We found that with a little bit more budgeting we could buy organic veggies without impacting our total overall weekly food expenditure.
Read more about our Our Weekly Meal Planning =)
I believe that everything needs to be in moderation. Throughout my pregnancy I tried to eat the healthiest I could but I also slipped up (more than a few times) and that’s okay! I didn’t put myself down for eating some chocolate or ordering Dominos Pizza when we really didn’t feel like cooking! The key is to follow these guidelines as closely as possible, but remember that they are simply just guidelines and not strict rules. If you want a piece of cake or some french fries every now and then, go for it! You will never be able to maintain a healthy pregnancy (and lifestyle) if you don’t give yourself a little wiggle room.
With that being said, I tried (key word: tried) to stick to about 2,400 calories per day. I was about 83 kilograms when I got pregnant which gave me a BMI of 26 (slightly overweight). My caloric needs before getting pregnant were about 2,000 calories a day and I have slowly increased that number to 2,300-2,500 throughout my pregnancy.
My typical day during my Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Here is an idea of what a typical day looks like in terms of my meals.
- Nescafe with 200ml milk and water
- 200g cottage cheese
- 6 dried dates
- 1 apple or banana with 30 grams peanut butter
- egg white omelet (2 egg whites and 1 whole egg) with spinach and tomatoes
- 20 grams ketchup
- Nescafe with 200ml milk and water
- 200g greek yogurt with fruit
- Baked chicken breast with spinach and mushroom sauce
- Roasted potatoes and green beans
This all adds up to about 2,400 calories per day! It also encompasses the Daily dozen that I have been trying so hard to stick to. Of course this is a very ideal version of what I actually eat. Daniel is currently carb cycling so some days he can eat lots of carbs and other days he can eat none. On his high carb days I will make some whole wheat bread or whole wheat pitas to eat with cucumber salad or make banana oatmeal pancakes. On his low carb days we stick to eggs and more fruits and veggies. (He also eats more fish, pork, or chicken).
The Magic of Dates?
As my due date approaches (6 more weeks!!) I have been doing A LOT of research on how to have an easy uncomplicated pregnancy. One of the things I have found everywhere is the power of eating dates in the last weeks of pregnancy. Dates help soften your cervix which in turn leads to a shorter labor and can help encourage a spontaneous delivery (instead of having to be induced). I have added 6 dates a day to my pregnancy diet to see if this really works! Along with the dates I make sure to drink a big glass of water because of their high fiber content. All this added fiber also helps with the dreaded pregnancy constipation. But be careful not to go overboard and eat too much. It can have the opposite affect! (either more constipation or diarrhea!) Check out my post about The Magic of Dates to find out more about eating this crazy good fruit during pregnancy. =)
My Pregnancy Diet is all about making healthy choices and moderation. I have also found it important to find some sort of routine that you can stick to. Starting your day with a Nescafe, for example gives your day a nice kick. Daniel and I also always take a little break from working to eat lunch together. Finding a routine helps you make healthy food choices by preventing mindless snacking!
I encourage every pregnant woman to find what works for them! Or really just any person trying to live a healthy lifestyle. The key to success is creating a routine and meal plan that you can stick to. Also remember to enjoy what you eat! You don’t have to force yourself to eat kale salads for lunch everyday if you really hate kale! Find what you like and what works for you. =)
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian. This information is a culmination of literature research that I have done in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.