I’ve officially passed the finish line of my first trimester of pregnancy and I can’t say i’m sad to see the first trimester go… Though I think I had it pretty good for the most part, this is my first pregnancy and some of the first trimester symptoms definitely took me by surprise.
First thing I noticed was extreme exhaustion. Whoa, baby (literally and metaphorically). I felt like I had just run a marathon every day for the first two months. After getting home from work every day I was ready for bed at 6:30 SHARP. haha, not even joking on this one. It hit me like a ton of bricks and since i’m always trying to push myself beyond my comfort zone, this really threw me for a loop, both mentally and physically. So lesson number one I learned was to not beat myself up! But let’s be honest, this is a mental game that i’m sure i’ll be battling for the next 9 months. More on this shortly.
The next main symptom I experienced was nausea- all. day. long. Though I think I am lucky in that I could pretty much keep it at bay by eating a little something. So this is a good thing if you work a full-time office job and can’t be hurling on your coworkers! HOWEVER, my normally very healthy-eating, ingredient conscious self went right out the window. All I wanted was crap, crap and more crap. Stuff I really don’t ever eat was calling my name and I gave in… and on enters the beating myself up battle again.
Macaroni and cheese, red meat (I really don’t ever eat red meat at all normally), chips and queso, cookies, crackers, cheese, sub sandwiches, peanut butter and bagels with cream cheese. Basically any and all my willpower went out the window and I honestly couldn’t believe myself. I’ve worked on this food will power thing now for about 8 years and really have it down pretty good. Occasionally I will indulge here and there, but for the most part, I know all that stuff doesn’t make me feel very good and so I just don’t eat it or buy it at the store.
So, over the last three months I’ve worked on not being so hard on myself, resting when I need to rest but remembering that I need to fuel my body with the right nutrients NOW more than ever, so here’s the good, bad, ugly (and cheesy) list of my first trimester eats:
CARBS, CARBS and did I mention Carbs?
I’ll kick this list off with the thing that was my mental bugaboo. Carbs were what my body was CRAVING, especially since I was so tired. So I gave in ( a lot) but also tried to find healthy carbs that I knew would fuel my body and growing baby bump the best. I typically would reserve carbs to the healthiest, lowest glycemic carbs out there like sweet potatoes or veggies. But I lost all will power and wanted real potatoes, pasta and everything in between. It’s what I was craving, so I went with it, but really tried to sneak in the healthiest options I could find (when I could!)
Before I was pregnant, I was practicing intermittent fasting. So eating breakfast wasn’t a regular occurrence in my routine. Usually I would start eating around 11AM. But I knew that I needed something in the morning so I wouldn’t get sick and these were some of my go-to options!
The good: A slice of Dave’s Killer Bread with Justin’s Peanut Butter + Honey or one of the Wild Friend’s Oat Cups with sliced fruit (bananas + strawberries) and always a glass of Organic Pasteurized OJ
The bad: A Dave’s Killer Bread Everything Bagel with a lot of cream cheese (because I LOVE cream cheese.), a glass of Organic Pasteurized OJ and some fruit. I could never live in NYC with all their glorious bagel shops… it would be the death of my will power. So I’m putting this in ‘the bad’ category due to my cream cheese obsession and the fact that this is way more than I would normally have for breakfast. Though, if you’re going to have a bagel, I highly recommend the Dave’s Killer Bread Everything Bagels because they don’t have artificial ingredients and add extra protein.
The ugly: Ugh, I admittedly wanted donuts a couple times in the morning. Though I think I only had these twice, which I feel pretty good about. I’m labeling these as the ugly because they really have zero nutritional value AT ALL and they are a sugar overload. But, I enjoyed them a couple times and moved on. Could be worse, right?
Meal Prepping… forget about it. I want what I’m craving!
If you have followed my blog for any amount of time (or just peruse back through my Instagram account @cookithealthy) you will see that I am all about meal prepping for the work week ahead. It’s kept my healthy eating journey on track the most throughout the years. I honestly attribute it to helping me keep weight off. When I count, measure and carefully craft meals, I help myself avoid added calories. One of my average lunches would be 200 – 300 calories and full of protein + healthy fats. If I were to go out for lunch, even with good intentions, I would consume closer to 600 – 800 calories.
But, meal prepping was impossible in my first trimester. If I was feeling nauseated, the last thing I wanted was that pre-made salad in the fridge.
Since lunch was the main meal I was meal prepping, this meal was a real struggle. Not to mention that nausea would hit me every day about 10:30 and so I would eat a snack to settle my stomach and then an hour later I was ready for pretty much anything BUT what I had brought with me…. are you annoyed with me? I was annoyed with myself about this! So here are some of the things that ended up working for lunches, though not all of them are home made… hey, you win some you lose some!
The good: I made some turkey taco salads one week and really loved those every day, which was a big win. I also made some of my cauliflower crust pizza and took that to work with a salad, and enjoyed having something warm to eat. Finally, one other meal that was a heat was my mini turkey burger lettuce wraps. I definitely loved having those for several days in a row. Recipe for those is here.
The bad: One craving i’ve been having that’s undeniably a pregnancy craving is for sub sandwiches. At least once (sometimes twice) a week I wanted some type of sub sandwich, but you’re not supposed to indulge in deli meats when your pregnant due to the potential for listeria. However, the work around is to heat the deli meat up to kill those potential germs. So I turned to Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop. They are known for toasting all their sandwiches and OMG are they so good. I get the turkey breast on wheat with everything on it except italian seasoning & oil. Again, this option could be much worse, but it just isn’t what I typically want for lunch.
The ugly: I think overall I didn’t indulge in foods that were unhealthy, but my portions have been much larger for lunches. So the ugliest part of lunch for me was that I was eating more calories than normal and not all of them were balanced macros. So my goal for the second trimester is to cut out some of the unnecessary things (like a bag of baked chips with my Potbelly sandwich… #shame) or try to add in more veggies to the mix.
Will there be cheese involved?
Before I was pregnancy, dairy was something I tried to avoid for the most part. It usually left my stomach hurting or left me bloated. Don’t get me wrong though, ya girl loved cheese… on crackers, on sandwiches, on charcuterie boards, but I just knew it was something that if I cut out of my diet then my digestive system felt and worked more smoothly.
However, my first trimester brought on the great need for cheese. It seemed to be the one thing to make all meals or snacks better. I’m sure you’re sitting there ( if you’ve even made it this far in this post!) nodding your head and saying, “DUH, Ashley! Cheese ALWAYS makes everything better!” But never before did I have dreams about macaroni and cheese or crave cheese sticks! This was new, but I was embracing it…
Dinners were interesting, especially the first 6 weeks or so because I was just so tired. I honestly didn’t feel like cooking AT ALL, which is not my normal personality. I will always cook something. But I would get home after work and immediately want to go to bed. So dinner was the most challenging during the first trimester for me.
If you’ve got the tiredness hitting you, I suggest stocking up on all the Trader Joe’s frozen stuff. It was a lifesaver! Their sweet potato gnocchi side dish, the spelt risotto and the individual microwavable bags of brown rice were some of my go-tos to make some sort of dinner happen!
The good: On good days where I planned ahead with a meal kit, I would bake some chicken to have with one of the Trader Joe’s frozen sides I mentioned above or I would make baked sweet potatoes for my husband and I to top with our favorites.
The bad: My husband travels for work a lot and on the days he was out of town I found myself hitting up Chipotle for dinner. Now, I have certainly found ways to make Chipotle on the lighter side of meals (no cheese, no sour cream, no rice) but that wasn’t happening. Though I did ask them to do half brown rice and half lettuce as my base, add in the grilled veggies, chicken, mild & medium salsa and then it turned into a volcano eruption of calories from there…. adding sour cream, cheese and chips + guac.
The ugly: I’ll be honest, there were several occasions where all I wanted was a box of Annie’s Deluxe mac ‘n cheese… and I made it and ate the whole box for dinner. Gosh it was so good, but damn did my stomach hurt all night long. A good reminder to myself why I don’t typically eat these foods. But hey, if you’re craving mac ‘n cheese, Annie’s Deluxe is the way to go!
Peace out Coffee…and alcohol…
It goes without saying that alcohol is definitely not something you have while pregnant, though I’ve heard a small glass of wine in your third trimester can be a nice treat… but we’ll see about that. But what about caffeine? Don’t make me give up ALL the simple pleasures in life that basically get me out of bed in the morning…. literally.
Well now, you can calm down because pregnant women don’t have to give up caffeine cold turkey like I did, but it is advised to limit the amount you have each day. You should probably consult your doctor on that exact amount though. For me, I already knew that a trigger “food” (can you call coffee food?) for me was coffee. Coffee itself each day was fine, but if I went too long without it or skipped my morning coffee one day, hello migraine city population me, my pillow and a dark room. So knowing that pregnancy can already bring on headaches and that I couldn’t take too much of any medicine, I decided to give up coffee. I stopped cold turkey, went through caffeine withdrawals and migraines and the cold sweats…the whole nine yards. But I came out and have not had any coffee for two in a half months now. I do have the occasional iced green tea from Starbucks, but the amount of caffeine in a tea doesn’t affect me like coffee.
Given that I just told you I had to give up like two of my favorite things (coffee and wine) it won’t come as a surprise when I say that I live for snacks now. They are my favorite thing to plan out and find ways to incorporate extra healthy nutrients into my daily diet to help with baby!
I will say that for this category, I didn’t get as ‘ugly’ with my choices as some of the other meals, but I had times that weren’t good (damn you Girl Scout Cookies). But here were my favorite first trimester pregnancy snacks:
The good: Fresh berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries) were a top choice for a snack item on a daily basis. For some reason fruit really sounded so good all the time. I also loved packing some Justin’s PB with celery sticks, Trader Joe’s Organic String Cheese Sticks and air popped popcorn. I also stumbled upon Mamma Chia Vitality Pouches and instantly fell in love with the taste and the extra does of Omega-3s they gave me! Lastly, I was really not wanting to workout, but I motivated myself with an Epic Bar or an RX Bar afterwards. Yeah, i’ll run on the treadmill for 30 minutes for a Peanut Butter Chocolate RX Bar… wouldn’t you?
The bad: I really continued to be my normal healthy self when it came to snacking, but occasionally I would be on the go and didn’t have a snack with me and would have to grab something quick. This is the only time it wasn’t the most nutritious options like a bag of Cheez-Its or Baked Chips from work vending machine.
The ugly: It got ugly as soon as I saw those fold out tables, green boxes and cute little girls setting up shop at the Target I normally go to. I’m talkin’ Girl Scout Cookies. I resisted buying any, which is really hard to do when those cute girls ask so sweetly as you walk by and you want to yell at them DON’T TEMPT ME, WITH YOUR DEVIL COOKIES!!! But then you smile and keep on walking.
Well I caved when they came to my office and brought their little wagon of cookies right up to my desk! Ugh, I was trapped. So I caved and bought 3 boxes. Thin Mints are a must, and then I also tried a new flavor – S’mores. Holy cow… I accidentally ate an entire half of the box of these one day and honestly, don’t regret it. This flavor was so good.
To Sum it Up…
I hope you find this post helpful. Whether you’re in your first trimester or just curious about what goes on once you get pregnant. For someone who has to work very hard to stay slim and healthy, it has been an adjustment to say the least. But the main takeaway here is to listen to your body and don’t bet yourself up if you indulge in a Girl Scout Cookie or 20 (ooops), but try to fuel yourself with things that will help you and baby grow healthy and strong. Pregnancy isn’t the time to make excuses for crappy eating because if you feel gross when you eat crappy, then your body is telling you that it’s not properly fueled. And when you’re growing a freaking human, that’s definitely when your body deserved to be properly fueled!
Be sure to speak to your physician about your diet or any concerns you may have. This is just my take on how I coped with things during my first trimester and first pregnancy!
What were the changes you noticed most during your first trimester?