Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mum Abroad 5: Eating for Two

Eating for two - hooray! Pizza, a bowl of cookie dough, and a family sized pack of chips, great! Or not. Eating for two is about mindful eating, knowing that what I eat, Baby eats. It's getting enough quality nutrients to keep both of us healthy. Morning sickness and food cravings and aversions, a busy schedule, remembering what's forbidden, advice from well-meaning friends and relatives in a new culture, and eating a fixed menu at work are challenges but not insurmountable problems during this time when diet takes on new importance. 

It takes a lot of work, and sometimes it's a case of fighting mind over matter to grab something fresh instead of that bag of chips or all three croissants from the 3 for 2 deal at the bakery, but it can be done! Affirmations, an idea list on the fridge, making time for food, and personal experience with how food changed my quality of life, and my greatest motivation for healthful eating - knowing I'm making nutritional decisions on behalf of Baby. All of these tools have helped me make good decisions, keeping treat foods as real treats and fresh, whole foods as staples. 

Fail to plan, plan to fail is a saying I learned when I started learning about really good nutrition. I take that to heart and use a meal planning system my cousin introduced me to. It's great! You write meals you like on sticky notes and keep them in a folder. Then, you just pick out the ones you want to stick on a laminated week plan, and shop accordingly! Sticky notes are the key as they allow for movement. If I've planned something for, say, Wednesday, but don't feel like it at the last minute, I can just switch the notes around, choosing something I do want from another night, since we have the ingredients for the whole week. I also get my school menu a week ahead and can see what meals are Baby-friendly and the days I'll need to pack a lunch or an extra snack.

In general, we eat well, but once we'd decided we'd like a baby, I kicked things up a notch. A handful of extra greens in my smoothie, omelet or salad to get enough folic acid, extra servings of good fats (salmon, avocado, seeds and nuts), and taking extra care to avoid foods with a high toxic loadWhen we learned Baby was on the way, I cut out caffeine, limiting myself to the occasional decaf coffee, decaf Earl Grey tea, and a daily treat of dark chocolate. Before Baby I enjoyed a glass of wine now and then, but I'm not a huge drinker (we're talking a bi-weekly beer, people!), so cutting out alcohol wasn't a hardship and gives me the peace of mind I'm doing everything I can to protect Baby.  

Food safety means a lot of cut-outs as well - we like a lot of unpasteurized dairy products and raw or lightly cooked egg dishes, not to mention smoked fish and home-cured meats! I'm allergic to pregnancy-approved antibiotics, so no poached eggs for me at the moment. It's not worth the risk. I've never been a fan of rare meat, but now I take extra care to make sure it's been cooked to the proper temperature (contrary to popular belief, thoroughly cooking meat does not destroy the protein, but it sure does cut down on the risk of food-born illnesses!).

Cravings are a special hurdle of the pregnant. Suddenly you feel you just can't go on without chowing down on a dozen peanut butter cookies, or a family-sized bag of chips is all you can stomach. While I don't want anything crazy, I've had a lot of cravings for foods from my childhood. With the exception of a late-night box of macaroni and cheese, I've been able to come up with healthier substitutes: Steel cut oats for porridge, buckwheat pancakes, and brown rice cakes with almond butter and homemade fruit-only jam. To help control cravings, I skip the sugar, which only fuels more cravings, and have mini meals throughout the day to keep my metabolism fueled. I also keep busy, since I tend to go for junk food if I'm bored.

We always have good snacks on hand, so I don't get "stuck" walking home passed the bakery or burrito place with nothing ready at home. We've got fruit, vegetables, dips, and lots of GFSF homemade baked goods in the kitchen, so no excuses there. 

To sum up, healthful eating at any stage of life is a decision that must be made multiple times a day, and it's not always easy (trust me - I live next door to a bakery. I know.) but it is always worth it. Feeling the effects of good food decisions over time makes it easier, and the end goal - a healthy family - is the best motivator and reward. 

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