Pregnancy and Clean Eating

This is our baby girl, Adair.

Quite a few people have asked me how to eat clean while pregnant, particularly with gut-wrenching morning sickness, or very strong aversions.  Eating various mixtures of spices, meat and eggs can seem completely out of the question.

Here is my opinion on this matter: Relax.

If you’ve already established habits of clean eating, that foundation will serve you well.  The “cavewoman” didn’t have variety to suppress the prego-yuckies.   Luckily, we do.  If you have an aversion, make food selections that give you reprieve.

I had been eating clean for about 6 months when I got pregnant with our third child.  After the initial elation, I swung over to fear of losing ground…going back to my old ways of eating.  Sure enough, first trimester aversions hit me hard.  I fought and fought.  To be honest, eventually I got hungry enough and waved the white-food flag… white rice, grits and plain oatmeal, hard-boiled egg whites, and toast with butter.  I wish I had Heather at the time…she has so many ideas that would have been appealing.  Check out her fabulous post about eating clean when sick.

Also–don’t be afraid to consider white potatoes.  They are not grains, and not packaged.  They are rich in vitamins (keywords: folate, iron!) and so perfectly plain.  I attended a Whole 9 Seminar last month–it was fabulous!  We learned that their exclusion of white potatoes in the Whole30 was arbitrary, because Americans like to use them for tater tots, chili cheese fries, waffle-fry nachos, and potato chips.  White potatoes do have a relatively high glycemic index.  However, if plain potatoes help you fight the fight, then eat with gratitude!  Mash them up, let them nourish your sick tummy, and your sweet growing child.

Stay in tune with your body!  If you cannot tolerate high doses of protein, that is okay.  Increase your healthy fats and your carbohydrate intake.  The main goal is to stay away from a grain-based, packaged-foods-centered diet.

Bottom line: it was not hard to get back on track when my morning-sickness symptoms subsided.  I felt relieved to eat free again, and my good habits revived for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.   So, eat what makes you feel better, and don’t worry about it.  Trust your old habits to welcome you back on the wagon.

Caveat…don’t cave to sugar–it will grab hold of you!  Sugar (of all kinds added in) should be off your list of choices.  Pregnancy demands enough from you without gestational diabetes.  Additionally, you may expose your baby to abnormally high blood sugar levels at birth.  (This happened with my first child.  Perhaps it was the two-day-cookie-dough-therapy-bender while I impatiently waited to deliver.)

If you have unquenchable sugary-carb cravings, enjoy whatever plant source you can palate: grapes, pineapple, watermelon, bananas.  Mashed sweet potatoes are very substantial as well–try stirring in a little vanilla extract and cinnamon.  If you are truly in a dessert-emergency, check out this awesome mousse, our “lara” balls here and here, muffins, more muffins, even this fruit-sweetened chocolate “pudding”.

Continue to nourish yourself and the baby well.  This is the single greatest thing you can do for yourself during this time.  Not only will it sustain you physically, but also it helps with mental clarity and emotional stability.  If you have experience eating Primal or Paleo while expecting a baby, please share!  I am curious to know what worked for you.

Good luck and congratulations to all you beautifully expectant mothers!!  Don’t wish this time away, because you are actively partnering with God in a miracle:  out of two hearts that beat wildly and passionately for one another–a new heart now beats.

Enjoy the journey!

33 Weeks. 5 y/o Meg, posing very seriously…Liam, 3 in the bkgd trying to run away.

4 comments on “Pregnancy and Clean Eating”

  1. So I decided to wait until after I got my eyes on the end product- my new bundle of joy- before I commented. This third pregnancy began with insatiable hunger and low energy. Once I discovered clean eating, I quickly became a new woman- feeling better than ever. I was able to exercise up until the day I delivered. What was the end product? A total of 18lb weight gain (carrying late to 41 wks) and giving birth to a very healthy 9lb 6oz (well nourished) baby boy. I can’t wait to see the results of clean eating postpartum!


  2. Fabulous feedback, Melissa, and I am so glad that you had such success!! Congratulations on your baby, and being able to set up a foundation for a really enjoyable pregnancy…I went to 41 on all of mine, too–just really hard to wait that last few weeks out!! I hope you find that you can bounce back easily and feel better than you did even BEFORE kids. 🙂 See you soon!


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