Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety: How to Eat in the First Trimester

“Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety: How to Eat in the First Trimester” by myMindBodyBaby

If you are reading this and are newly pregnant, we are so incredibly thrilled for you. So before you read on, please, please take moment and delight in this incredible moment in your life.

Because we know as exciting as this time is supposed to feel, it can also come with anxiety.  We know, firsthand, the pain and burden that can come with the journey to get pregnant. The distress and strain caused by infertility can steal your sense of control, inner calm, and possibly your happiness. It is an all-encompassing stage of life that isn’t for the faint of heart. So, it’s no wonder that when women do become pregnant the fears that followed them through infertility don’t just up and leave. We hear it all the time, these uncertain worrisome feelings stick around and rob you of the joys of your newfound future. Every little pinch turns into panic, ultrasounds are anxiety-provoking – the unknowns are unbearable. We call this the ‘infertility hangover’ – more on that here.

pregnancy success pregnant woman

So how do you dim the 1st-trimester ‘what-if’ anxieties, take back control of your mind, and allow yourself to feel some joy – while still honoring the trauma that was your fertility journey?

Conquering the unknown

For many, the unknown is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome.  Questions like, “What if I lose this pregnancy?”, “Will my exercise negatively impact the baby?”, “Why don’t I feel nauseated like my best friend did?”, “There is so much out there on what not to eat, what CAN I eat?”, “If I don’t eat perfectly, can I hurt my baby?”.  The list goes on and on.  For some women, having clear, well researched, and trusted tools to rely on can help to ease these troublesome thoughts. It helps to remove some of the unknowns in order for you to feel more in control and calmer about the stage you are in: your first trimester of pregnancy!

As a nutritionist, I was very aware of my foods – what was and what wasn’t ideal during my 1st trimester, especially after having struggled with infertility for several years. So I wanted to help shed some light on common first trimester fears that many women have.

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Common worries about food and pregnancy

  1. You must eat perfectly otherwise you might have a miscarriage. While consuming quality, nutritionally-dense foods is very important, there is no evidence to suggest that eating “treat” foods once in a while will have a negative impact on your developing baby. For women who have medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, extra precautions must be had to ensure both the safety of mom and baby but a cookie or piece of chocolate will not end the pregnancy.
  2. Certain foods can cause miscarriages. It is true that certain foods should ideally be avoided (see below) as a precautionary measure (see Mayo clinic recommendations here). However, if something from the list below has been consumed, there is likely no need for worry – simply monitor yourself for a few days and if you begin to feel unwell, then consult with your doctor.
The following is a list of foods that should not be consumed during pregnancy:
  • Raw and undercooked meats and fish
  • Deli/luncheon meats (technically they can be consumed if heated, but they are not quality sources of protein)
  • Pâté
  • Foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs like eggnog, Caesar salad dressing, and raw batter
  • Unpasteurized dairy and juices
  • Raw sprouts such as mung, alfalfa, and radish sprouts
  • Some herbal teas like chamomile and lemongrass and teas high in caffeine
  • Excess caffeine – 200mg or less is advised (this is roughly equivalent to 1.5 cups of regular coffee)
  • Alcohol

Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety

  1. You should be eating for two. In fact, your caloric requirements for the first trimester are no different than prior to pregnancy (Most et al 2019). While your nutrients needs do change (more on this below), you do NOT need to eat more calories. You may find that eating smaller meals, more frequently may help with nausea – but you do not need to consume more food overall.

Feeling any better yet?

Simple food considerations for the 1st trimester

We here at myMindBodyBaby get a lot of concerned questions over how to ensure the right nutrients are being consumed during pregnancy – how much to eat and how to put it all together. It’s easy enough to figure out what not to eat.  But some struggle with how to determine what exactly they should eat.  They want a  well thought out dietary plan that will support their growing baby AND be delicious – no one wants to eat salads all the time!

The uncertainty about what to eat can be a source of anxiety for some. That is why we created our 1st Trimester Pregnancy Fitness & Nutrition Guide – it is a meal plan for weeks 5 to 13 of your pregnancy and is specifically designed for the first trimester of pregnancy (although it also comes with guidance to extend the use of the guide for the entire duration of your pregnancy.  Handy, right?!)  But before you get your hands on this super helpful guide, let’s take a look at some simple food rules to help you pick the best foods for your growing babe.

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Food rules for the 1st trimester

  1. Choose foods that are in their whole and natural state. Instead of sweet potato crackers, opt for baked sweet potato drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Instead of quinoa pasta, choose the real deal, whole quinoa. You get the point. Foods that are less processed are usually more nutritious, easier to digest, and easier for your body to absorb.
  2. When in doubt, consider that each meal should consist of a protein, 2 (or more) servings of veggies, 1-2 servings of healthy plant-based fats (such as nuts/seeds, avocado, and olive oil), and 1 serving of quality carbohydrates like yams, beets or quinoa.

Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety

  1. Important nutrients during pregnancy include folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and omegas. Of course, a well-rounded diet of micro and macronutrients is key, but we want to ensure that these particular nutrients are included through both your diet and a quality prenatal supplement.

Nutrient

Where to find it

Folate

leafy greens, broccoli, kidney beans, peas, and chickpeas

Calcium

spinach, kale, sardines, seeds

Iron

cashew, leafy greens, beans, shellfish, quinoa

Vitamin D

mushrooms, fatty fish, eggs, the sun

Omega 3

avocado, olive oil, coconut, hemp seeds, chia seeds

Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety

If eating to nourish your growing baby and fueling yourself to feel strong and healthy is something you are after, then check out our 1st Trimester Pregnancy Fitness & Nutrition Guide. This guide provides a full meal plan (with handy weekly grocery lists!), a complete pregnancy-safe workout schedule with full-length (and fun!) exercise videos, weekly mindfulness tips, researched supplement recommendations,  and super helpful insider tricks for getting through the 1st trimester of pregnancy… all designed by fellow fertility warriors, who also happen to also be certified nutrition and fitness experts!

Reduce Pregnancy Anxiety

We get it.

We get it. All of it.  Pregnancy should be an exciting time, especially after all the effort that went into getting here. But for many, it’s an overwhelming, nerve-wracking, emotional rollercoaster. For so long you lived with a lack of control over your body and timeline and struggled with so many unknowns. While you are through that part of your life the negative effects can be long-lasting. One way to conquer these feelings is to grab ahold of the things you CAN control – one of those being your nutrition.  Research has shown that quality nutrients make a huge difference physically for both you and baby, and as a bonus, knowing you are eating well can also help lessen your worries because you, mama, are doing all you can do to keep that little babe safe until he or she is ready to meet you.

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