A pivotal part of any fitness regimen is nutrition. You won’t get the results you want if you work out but still survive on cheeseburgers and pizza. Unfortunately, sticking to a fitness-focused diet is difficult at best when pregnant.
Before pregnancy I was counting my macros on My Fitness Pal. My goals, like many people, were to gain muscle and shed fat. My snacks were hard-boiled eggs. Most of my meals consisted of chicken, rice, and broccoli. That did not stick through pregnancy.
Like it or not, pregnancy can cause food cravings, (which most people have heard about), or food aversions. From what I understand, food cravings during pregnancy are nearly impossible to ignore. If a woman suddenly wants Chinese food at three in the morning, it better happen or there will be hell to pay. Cravings are usually justified with the phrase, “You’re eating for two!” A lot of over-eating or unhealthy eating is forgiven during pregnancy because of this phrase. However, in order to provide enough energy for a growing fetus, a woman only needs to eat an additional 300 calories per day. Most food cravings, like the deep-fried pickles and Doritos, have much more than 300 calories. And they’re low quality calories, too.
I cannot provide any advice or tips on how to conquer pregnancy cravings to stay on the nutritional track. I was lucky enough to not have cravings but, instead, I had food aversions.
Aversions come with their own set of difficulties. Just when my diet of chicken and veggies had become established, they began to make me gag. I couldn’t smell chicken or turkey without getting nauseous. Vegetables were impossible to swallow. The healthy staples were gone. The lean meat left to me was shrimp which is limited during pregnancy. Fruits were still good. But the foods that made me the least nauseous were carbs. Full disclosure, I upped my pasta game during pregnancy.
No matter what a woman has, cravings or aversions, it is almost impossible to follow a fitness diet while pregnant. And by “fitness diet” I mean clean eating, counting/following macros, and even weighing out quantities for the most accurate nutritional measurement. A healthy diet, absolutely, but a 100% fitness diet is for superhuman women. What is important to remember is that you are in control of what you eat, (pregnant or not). Although I ate more carbs, I cut back on the sugary coffee and other sources of caffeine. I drank gallons more water and snacked more on healthy trail mix than other vending machine fare.
Some women can make a fitness diet work through pregnancy, gain the minimum amount of weight, and come out the other side without looking like they were pregnant at all. Bot those aren’t the average women. Women with cravings, do the best to control them or find healthy substitutes for what you’re craving. For women with aversions, eat what nutritionally rich food you can without being miserable. But most importantly, eat to suit what your body needs. Sometimes it won’t be the most healthy thing, like my pasta.
What helped me was to think about how I would want my child to eat once they could make their own food choices, then eat to reflect that behavior. Try to set a good nutrition example early, even when the baby is in utero. But, trust me, whatever stage of pregnancy you’re in, that kid will always like cheesecake.
When you think about meal prepping does it seem like some daunting, time consuming task that you HAVE to do? It definitely used to be that way for me. I felt like I needed to prep something different for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. That, as you can imagine, led to a lot of money wasted on ingredients and a lot of extra food that sometimes went to waste. I now have a pretty tight budget when it comes to groceries because it can be so easy to go overboard. Developing a simple meal prep routine has really helped me stay on budget each month, eat healthy, and save time during the work week.
Here are my top tips for keeping meal prep simple:
Make a plan for the entire week. Figure out your schedule with work, workouts, and extra curriculars and see where you can most benefit from meals that are already prepped. Hitting up the 6:40 PM class consistently? Definitely meal prep your dinners, so that by the time you get home all you need to do is reheat your food.
Batch cook! Prep things like protein and starches in bulk. Add a bunch of chicken to a sheet pan or crock pot and cook enough servings for the entire week. Same with your starches– sweet potatoes, rice, spaghetti squash, etc. These generally take longer to cook and reheat fairly well, so make them ahead of the week to save time.
Use convenience appliances like a crock pot or instant pot. During your weekend prep you can create entire meals to store in the freezer, then during the week add the meal to your crock pot and let it cook all day. Easy for family dinner nights! Pinterest has A TON of freezer meal ideas.
Plan for meals that you know you will be eating out. Make meals out special! Spend your time and money wisely and choose places that serve quality food. Rather than grabbing fast food on your lunch break or on your way home from the gym (gasp).
Choose a method that work for you. Do enjoy cooking dinner for yourself or your family each night? Great! When you do your weekend prepping make a plan for the week ahead and get all the ingredients you need. You can prepare ingredients like washing and chopping vegetables and thawing out protein. Everything will be ready to go each night when you make dinner. Do you know for a fact that you will not cook during the week? Then follow step 1!
I hope this helps! Establishing a healthy meal prep, or nutrition in general for that matter, routine takes some trial and error. You cannot know what will work best for you until you try out different things. You can only benefit from being organized!
There are SO MANY conflicting ads, posts, diets, cleanses, wraps, shakes, lollipops (seriously don’t get us started on that one) workouts, out there. No wonder we don’t know where to start or who to trust.
If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
When reading an ad, or considering trying a product or program, first ask yourself “Does this option seem realistic?”
“Loose 20 lbs in 1 week!”
“Loose inches overnight!”
“You won’t feel hungry”
These are tempting because who hasn’t wanted to loose 20lbs in one week ?♀️?! However they do not sound realistic. If they are promising a quick fix, they are likely a hoax. They may even get you some quick results, but often times the more drastic/quickly these quick fixes work the faster the weight or inches will come back, often with some long term effects making the next time we try it even harder/less effective/more damaging.
If it doesn’t pass a good ol’ fashioned gut check, it’s likely “too go to be true.”
It did not take us 1 month, or even 1 year to get to where we are, so it will take some time to get to where we want to be. And we likely picked up some bad habits along the way.
Habits are hard to break, especially the bad ones. If we want a different result, we have to take different actions. But trying to overhaul your entire life all at once rarely works. It’s overwhelming & confusing, so start small.
5 Places to Get Started
There are more parts to being healthy then just working out and eating well (though those are HUGE pieces of the puzzle). Decide what is a realistic area of your life you are willing to make a few changes with TODAY, and focus on that until you have some new, healthier habits in place.
Choose just 1 of the following options to begin. Once you crushed that, THEN pickup another.
Get a Fit Bit (AKA Just Move). If money is a factor and a gym membership is truly not in the budget, Fit bit has some affordable options. Buy one, put it on and hit 10,000 steps EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Drink More Water. I can guarantee just about all of us are not hydrating properly. We should drink 1/2 of our body weight in oz of water every single day. There are A TON of benefits with hydrating properly. Bonus points for subbing out 1 sugary drink/caffeinated/alcoholic drink per day for a glass of water.
Go the F*ck To Sleep. We need 7-9 hours per sleep every night. Even if you already are crushing workouts and your nutrition lack of sleep can wreck havoc on your body & metabolism. Plan your day around your sleep schedule and make it non negotiable.
Practice Mindfulness (Reduce Stress) This ranges anywhere from meditating or journaling for 5 minutes to finally making an appointment with a Therapist (I have a great one if you need a referral!). When we make changes in our life, we have to work on our internal dialogue to get our mind & bodies in sync to stay successful long term.
Get a Coach If you are looking at this list and thinking “sure that seems easy, but I’ve tried all those things and quit after a week” you may need a coach. Why Icehouse works is greatly due to the accountability having a coach provides to our athletes. Having someone expecting us at the gym, or helping us set the right goals for us and then having the tough conversation when we didn’t show up and ate a whole wheel of cheese and getting us back on track quickly has saved a lot of us from backsliding. Even our coaches have a coach because we too are human, and need someone to hold our feet to the fire occasionally.
Still unsure? We offer a Free Intro to get to know you, discuss your goals and recommend the best place to start to ensure you will be successful long term. Chat with a Coach HERE
You do not have to start all of it today, but pick a place to start, THEN GET STARTED! Good Luck!