You are probably hoping that this post will contain detailed, step-by-step approaches for how to make your food look during pregnancy…if that’s the case, let me apologize right now!
I’m not here to tell you exactly what to eat. But when it comes to how to approach your relationship with food, let me offer a little bit of insight, based on my own personal experience! Follow these steps to experience more food freedom during pregnancy.
1. Stop Counting
Put the FitBit away. Put the scale in the garage. Stop worrying about what size clothes you’re wearing, or how many additional calories you’re consuming, and what that might mean about you. Your job right now? To sustain a growing, human life. That is enough. You don’t also have to do it perfectly, or do it while maintaining macros, or eating exactly the number of additional calories prescribed for each trimester of pregnancy.
This is a great time in your life to begin tapping into the inherent wisdom that is hard-wired into your body. Your body is sending you strong messages about what it wants. Why not listen, and leave the counting by the wayside?
2. Chill on the Food Restrictions
There is a widely circulated list of foods that are “forbidden” to eat during pregnancy. Whether or not you choose to abide by that list is honestly a personal choice.
I know women, even women who had major health complications during their pregnancies, who ate sushi, and deli meat, and unpasteurized cheeses. Both they and their babies came out just fine. Again, defer to the advice of your doctor in all cases. But, as long as you’re tapping into the wisdom of your own body and your care team, plus your common sense, you don’t need to stress too much about restricting your food.
3. Relax About Your Weight Gain
Okay, again, listen to your doctor…if they’re concerned about your weight gain, maybe you should be too (I say “maybe” because I think some doctors come on a little too strong about weight during pregnancy…find a provider you like and trust). But gaining weight is the normal, expected, and healthy thing for you to be doing right now.
Whatever happens after the baby comes, in terms of how quickly you lose the weight and how much you lose, is something for you to tackle then. Don’t put any additional stress on your body and mind, both of which are already working really hard during pregnancy, by worrying about weight gain. Just let your body do what it’s designed to do.
Basically, just relax.
I’m definitely not advocating that you become a human garbage dumpster during pregnancy. Although I have had some days where I felt that way during my own pregnancy, TBH! But you shouldn’t be allowing your diet brain to muck up your experience, and your choices, during this time in your life!
Should you try to consciously choose foods that are going to be of maximum value to you and your baby? Of course. Should you listen to your doctor’s recommendations? Of course. Should you have a nervous breakdown when you reach for the nachos, or the ice cream, or the fried pickles based on cravings? Nope.
Your body is hard-wired with a great amount of intelligence, and now is a time in your life to surrender to that! Your body knows what to do, and so do you. Get out there and enjoy the next nine months of food freedom!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to approach food intuitively, check out this guide to Intuitive Eating.