Monday, September 13, 2010

How Not To Eat Like a You-Know-What While Pregnant or Just Want to be Healthier

A long time ago, I wrote a post about not eating like a (something I can no longer say since I challenged myself to drastically cut back on cussing). We'll just say "idiot" from here on out. Now this post caused much controversy. Some people loved it and some hated it. I just said what worked for me. Now the last thing I want to do is stir up controversy right now. Lord knows there is enough of that in my personal life, but eating while pregnant can be really challenging and I think it's hard for some people to not eat like idiots while gestating or otherwise for that matter. Recently, quite a few people, Internet friends and real life friends, have asked me to share with them some details about my diet, so this post is for all of them. I hope it's helpful.

In the beginning, I couldn't understand how anyone could ever gain weight while pregnant. I was so nauseated and threw up so much that I felt like I was going to literally die. Luckily that has passed. For a while I just had my regular appetite. I gained a little bit of weight. I was under the normal weight gain range.

And then something terrible happened. At around 7 months, I became ravenous. I have gained almost twenty-five pounds, which is alarming to me, but which my doctor assures me is necessary and normal and actually a healthy weight. I developed a hunger that I never knew was possible and it was a violent, gnawing sort of hunger where, if I don't eat when it strikes, I become a psychotic, dry heaving, hypoglycemic disasterFor a while, I didn't understand what was happening to me, but a month to six weeks or so ago I ended up stuck in the doctor's office for 3 hours with dehydration. After my forced rehydration, the doctor gave me a long scary lecture about how not eating and drinking regularly could really hurt me and the baby so I had better get my act together and not let this happen again. After that I became a lot more mindful and I started kind of compiling a mental list of good things to eat that were healthy and easy and did not make me want to hurl when it was 100 degrees outside. Now, with my gestational diabetes, I have to be even more mindful of what goes in my mouth even when a pint of Haagen Dasz has begun to look like a single serving, and a small one at that.

In doing this, I kinda realized that I was on to something and that these are all great things to eat while pregnant, when eating like an idiot is easier than ever, but they are also good to eat when you're not pregnant and you're just trying to be healthy or when you might be struggling with your own blood sugar issues.

The first rule of not eating like an idiot while pregnant is to realize that you are not in fact, eating for two. I hate when people ask me about eating for two. I'm not. I'm eating for me and a little teeny thing that doesn't eat food, but somehow gets nutrition out of my blood in some elaborate fashion that I don't really want to understand in any more depth than that.

The other rule comes from my doctor. My doctor is a little wacky and new agey, but he's given me some good advice. He says to lay off the bread and ice cream and eat super high fiber, high protein snacks all day. I listened to him. Many pregnant ladies I know have had pooing issues. I have not. I credit the high fiber. It also keeps me full and prevents the dry heaving from an empty stomach.

Here are my favorite things to eat:

1. Almonds - Wacky doctor (maybe I'll give him his own post sometime) actually prescribed for me to eat a handful of almonds every day. He says they prevent preeclampsia.  I don't know if this is true and verified or not, but he said it. In any event, almonds are just good and they are good for you. I have a thing for blanched almonds but I also get cans of roasted almonds in sea salt and eat them. I have not come down with preeclampsia yet and my blood pressure has remained on the low side and I have no swelling.

2. Organic Apples - I can tear up an apple, organic or not. I love apples with a passion, but I read somewhere that the one thing you should always buy organic is apples, so I go to Whole Foods once a week and get some. My rule is to buy American apples, whatever variety they have. I get American apples because they don't have a to travel as far to get here and are in better shape upon arrival in my store. They taste much better too and I know because I conducted my own blind, organic vs. conventional apple taste test. Most of you live in climates where apples grow, so I'll bet you won't even have to worry about where your apples come from like I do since apples are in season now.  I like to eat the apples whole, skin and all and sometimes with peanut or almond butter (unsweetened).

3. Turkey Roll Ups - Pregnant women aren't supposed to eat deli meats, but I made an executive decision to have some in extreme moderation anyway. Boars Head has a line of meats that are natural and nitrite free and I like the turkey slices. Hopefully I won't get listeria.  I like to take a few turkey slices, spread with a little cream cheese, add a couple slices of chilled, blanched asparagus and a sliver of raw, red bell pepper and roll the whole thing up and eat it like so. They're very pretty and yummy and low carb.

4. Tzatziki - I can't stand to eat a cup of sweetened yogurt with fruit. I would honestly vomit, but for some reason I can't get enough of plain, Greek yogurt with garlic, cucumbers and dill. I eat this almost every day with a piece of toasted, whole grain pita. I have concluded that in my mind yogurt is a savory and not a sweet and should only come in the Greek variety. Luckily for me this has no sugar, is low fat, high protein, has lots of calcium and is just good. I won't eat stuff that's not good.

5. Watermelon - I lament the end of watermelon season. The watermelons are all getting mealy and gross, but when they weren't, I thoroughly enjoyed watermelon all summer. Plain is good, but if you get bored did you know that watermelon is really good drizzled with balsamic vinegar and eaten with feta cheese? I know it sounds weird, but try it. And pregnant women need to eat only the pasteurized, less authentic feta.

6. Barilla Plus Pasta - I love this pasta. It's higher in protein and grain and tastes like regular pasta. I think it has lentils in it or something. I like to stir fry a bunch of veggies in olive oil, hot pepper flakes and garlic and then throw them into the cooked, drained pasta and top with lots of Parmesan. I made this last week and at the last minute I thought I'd add some toasted walnuts to it too and I did not regret that decision. Yum. I ate this for four days and it didn't mess with my blood sugar like regular pasta would have.

7. Prunes - don't laugh, I know. I have developed a love of prunes. It happened because I fell victim to marketing. I watched a commercial where all these people were eating individually wrapped prunes and going into spasms of delight over them and then I immediately had to have them or I thought I might die. I went right to the store and bought them and they were just as good as the commercial said, except I have since realized that they don't need to be individually wrapped and called sun-dried black plums. A prune's a prune and they're delicious. They are sugary though, so I just eat one a day, if that. Maybe this is why I don't have poo issues.

8. Mini-Babybel Low-fat Cheese - I live on these things. I have a passion for them. The funny thing is that I can't stand the full fat ones because they have a gross, creamy texture. I much prefer the firmer, sharper light version. I carry these with me wherever I go for a little protein snack.

9. Nutrigrain Waffles with Unsweetened Peanut butter and Polaner All Fruit Spread. Enough said. Delicious and simple. This could be a little higher in sugar than some of my other snacks, so I test my blood after eating and only eat it maybe once a week only.

10. Chicken Salad - I love me some chicken salad. You can hide all kinds of healthy things in it and there are a million different versions. I just use the mayo sparingly because I don't even like mayo anyway and I don't eat it with carbs. I eat it on a plate plain or I stuff it into romaine leaves.

11. Chili - You can also make chili a million different ways and hide lots of veggies in it. I like almost all kinds of chili and it's very filling. I just can't handle it too spicy at the moment. You can also eat it with a little brown rice, whole grain crackers or whole grain corn chips. I like to put some cheese and Greek yogurt on top of mine. I prefer my chili with a higher bean to meat ratio, but I think it's even good with no beans at all (except beans are healthy and good, so eat them!)

12. Hummus - speaking of beans. Regular hummus is good, but Giada de Laurentis has a white bean dip that takes hummus to a new level. This recipe is easy and way better than common hummus. Here's the recipe. You're welcome. You don't need to make the pita chips with it and I prefer it on blanched, chilled broccoli spears. I could eat this endlessly and I often take it to parties and potlucks.

13. Orville Redenbacher's Natural Salted 50% Less Fat Microwave Popcorn - That's a long name for some plain popcorn. I love it. A few times I've had a bag of this for dinner and haven't regretted it at all. It feels indulgent, but it isn't. Plain popcorn is actually a healthy snack. It's when you start crapping it up with that scary, artificial yellow stuff that it gets bad. Don't eat that mess. Plain is beautiful.

14. Flavored Seltzer Water - I made this rule that I can only drink water. You will save a ton of calories and spare yourself consuming a lot of bad chemicals if you follow this rule. Drinking plain water can get dull though, even if you squeeze fruit or float cucumbers in it and sometimes you want to feel like you're having more variety. Flavored seltzer waters (unsweetened) are a good substitute. I like the orange flavored ones.

15. Breyers Pure Fruit Popsicles - These no longer work for me, as they spike my blood sugar way too high, despite their lack of calories. My body just doesn't react to them very well right now, but I wanted to mention them anyway. I ate these a lot when I was puking and they made me feel better and I've introduced a lot of non-pregnant people to them. Once my sugar issues are resolved I intend to buy a box again. These popsicles are all fruit, colored with fruits and vegetables and are only 40 calories each with no artificial sweeteners. Love them. I also love Whole Foods Fudge Bars, but I can't eat these right now either. The fudge bars are 100 calories, very chocolaty and very satisfying when you're having a sugar fit and just have to have a dessert. Just don't eat stuff like this every day unless you're a healthy weight, exercise all the time and have no blood sugar problems.

16. Variety - The above items are things I eat most often and really enjoy, but I have always made sure that I eat a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables. I also like to eat eggs for breakfast with a slice of Ezekiel toast. If I am having a sugar craving that I can't handle, I usually eat a handful of berries or a square of dark chocolate. Make sure that throughout the day you eat a lot of brightly colored foods. The prettier your food is the more you will like eating it and if you eat several colors throughout the day you can be assured that you're getting an ample variety of nutrients. I like eating blueberries and raspberries a lot too and they are so vivid. Swiss chard is really pretty with its green leaves and red stems and it's simple to saute in olive oil and garlic. Another thing that I do is make sure that if I eat any carb that I balance it out by eating something high in protein with it and that I always eat more protein than carbs in any given day. So far this is working very well for me and my blood sugar stays at ideal levels as long as I follow these rules. I plan to stay on this diet once the baby is born, although I sincerely hope that someone brings me a pint of Haagen Dasz mint chip to my hospital room after I give birth so I can eat the entire thing in celebration. I think if one has just delivered a child that an exception can be made once. Then I'll be good again.

Please please please share your own healthy snack ideas, products and recipes with me in the comments because we can all benefit from them and because I love to share this kind of knowledge. I hope this post helps the people who asked for it.


Anonymous said...

on the chicken salad - have you ever tried making it with your beloved plain yogurt? yum, yum.

Wide Lawns said...

Yes! Yes! I love it with plain yogurt. I could do a post just about chicken salads and all the stuff I put in them. Sometimes I make it with ranch dressing, sometimes I do a plain olive oil and herb one with nothing creamy and sometimes I do a curry/ yogurt one.

Jenny said...

First, I am also a Watermelon lover, I could live on it! I also love feta cheese so I am very excited to try that!

Second, one of my favorite healthy snacks is string cheese. Sargento's low fat cheese sticks or Weight Watchers 1 point cheese sticks, and they are just fun to play with! A healthy meal type thing is a whole wheat pita pizza. I use all low fat or heart healthy toppings, sauce, cheese and veggies on it. 15 min @ 350 degrees. YUM!

I love pears also. Hungry Girl has some great recipes as well, I love her carrot cake cupcakes. She also has a chicken salad recipe that I am going to try this week.

I'm not pregnant, but I am trying to lose weight so I definitely will be saving this post!

Anonymous said...

Look at anything you can make with sour cream or milk and use plain yogurt for the recipe. A dash of garlic powder in yogurt makes a great dip for chicken making it feel creamy and on a baked potato, or used in a cake recipe.
Using a blender and assorted beans (lentils, black, red, pinto) tomatoes, carrots, garlic, pepper can make a great bean dip, or make a batch and add it as a thickener to soups or as a brown sauce for Chinese recipes.
Newman's honey mustard dressing is great for a tuna or chicken or turkey salad sandwich (dash of plain yogurt creams it up.)
Strawberries, blueberries frozen in a blender with some cranberry juice can make a super smoothie.

mara said...

No avocados? I love those things -- if I wasn't allergic, I'd eat them daily. As it is, I eat them almost daily

Melanie said...

Although I wasn't one of the people who requested this article, I do appreciate all the wonderful ideas presented here. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Please do a whole post on chicken salads! I love them and I want to know more!

Veerle said...

In winter, I love to eat soup! So good but still healthy (if you choose a kind that has plenty of vegetables and doesn't have a lot of cream and fat).

FreeDragon said...

Do you know about subtracting the fiber from the carbs? If you are eating something with 10 carbs and 2 grams of fiber, it only has 8 carbs because fiber cancels out carbs so to speak.

Cathryn said...

Lurker, First Time Commenter, and Due December 1st. :)

Those are all great suggestions (although I'm too neurotic to eat deli meat or feta)! I've been on the almond train as well per my doc.

Also, I've really been on a black bean soup kick lately. The Whole Foods brand is really good. And if there's brown rice in the fridge, I throw that in as well.

Since becoming pregnant I've developed an aversion to most meats, so I eat a lot of beans, eggs and yogurt.

(And no poo problems here either! lol)

Wide Lawns said...

Mara I LOVE avocados! I eat them with lime juice and salt all the time. I hear they make the best, easiest baby food too.

I also eat a lot of vegetable soups, but I haven't made any new pots lately. Maybe this week would be a good time to do that.

Jenny, I checked out Hungry Girl. I've heard a lot about her. She has a few good recipes, but one thing that concerns me about her food is that most of it is super processed and contains a ton of chemicals and artificial sweeteners. I'm kind of scared of artificial sweeteners. My dr. told me not to eat them.

A friend of mine works out in the gym where the inventor of Splenda goes. They were in a class together and she asked him about Splenda. It was derived from pesticide apparently. Anyway, she asked him if he would eat it and his response was "Hell no."

So if the inventor of Splenda won't eat it, I'm not taking a risk with it either. I think I would only eat Hungry Girl style sparingly or if the benefits of losing the weight fast outweighed the risk of eating a lot of chemicals. I can also see where her style would be good for helping someone transition from a food addiction to healthier eating.

Cathryn, congrats! I like black bean soup too and I have a kind of meat aversion as well. I eat a lot of beans because of it. You can eat feta and brie as long as it's pasteurized, meaning not the authentic stuff. We just can't eat the real European kind that's all stinky and runny. All of the cheese in the regular grocery store is pasteurized, but Whole Foods has some of the real stuff, so just be careful there. Check out the link to Blue Lotus in my sidebar. She's pregnant in Japan and writes a great post about how they don't have the food restriction there that we do here. It made a lot of sense. Did you read my post about everything killing our babies and how I can't take it anymore? Doesn't it suck?

Cie said...

If you like plain yogurt, try it with chopped apples, walnuts, and a small drizzle of agave nectar. The agave nectar is also really great in tea and doesn't mess up sugar levels like other sweeteners.

Gina said...

When I am craving something sweet, I make little tortilla "pies." I slice up some apples, or grab a handful of blackberries sprinkle them with a little splenda - or sugar (and toss a pinch of flour if using blackberries, since they are so juicy), mix it up and wrap/fold them into a low-carb tortilla.

Then spray/brush the top with a tiny bit of olive oil & sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar/splenda & bake at 350 until the are slightly golden brown and crispy.

They are so good and only one serving, so you fill the sweet craving, but don't keep going back for another slice.

In non-fresh berry season, frozen work fine, but definitely don't forget a little flour.

Anonymous said...

A delicious cooler weather dinner is oatmeal with peanut butter and sunflower seeds (and pepitas!. I smear the peanut butter around the inside of the bowl, and when I pour the oatmeal in it melts and swirls through. Yum!

Anonymous said...

re the avocados- be sure to wash well before cutting into them. Like with melons, nasty stuff can be lurking in the dimples.

Trillian said...

lately I've been eating cucumber sticks dipped in salsa mixed with a little bit of chipolte mayo

Krista said...

Hungry girls stuff would only be good in moderation. WAY too much crap in there. Ask yourself if your Grandma could have eaten what's in front of you. If not, then it's probably too difficult for your body to process. Another way to look at nutrition is the 80/20 rule. 80% healthy, 20% succumbing to your cravings. People always ask how I can be a pastry chef and stay slender. Same answer as always, eat whole foods and don't stress about it too much (why do intelligent women become neurotic headcases when it comes to food?) I eat (and enjoy) quinoa, all veggies, milled flax seed (lots o' fibre and omega fats), full fat dairy, nuts, fruit, beans and the endless varieties of dips, olive oil and main course salads with small portions of meat. If I have a craving for sweet potato fries or sour candy then I eat that too, just not everyday.

Anonymous said...

i have a great popcorn recipe from the food schmooze on NPR:
1/4 cup popping corn
1 teaspoon oil ( i like olive)
salt to taste
mix that all in a bowl, then pour into a brown paper lunch bag and pop in the microwave for 2 minutes or untill the popping slowes!! hope you like this idea- i like to add a little bit of adobo to it too.

Lisa said...

Tzatziki- OH MY GOD. I got a recipe from my friend's Greek grandmother and I probably turn a 32-ounce container of greek yogurt into tzatziki every two weeks. I use it as a dip for veggies/crackers, a spread on sandwiches and wraps instead of mayo, even salad dressing! It's opened up the whole world of savory yogurt concoctions to me- like curry yogurt sauces for meat, which are awfully tasty too.

I love that you use chicken salad and chili to stuff chock-full of veggies. My favorite way to do so is in Japanese and Thai-style curries :)

About Me

Blog Archive