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.