Having difficulty staying paleo while pregnant

by (952) Updated April 04, 2013 at 9:17 PM Created December 16, 2012 at 3:30 AM

I'm 7 weeks pregnant, and I've been paleo for about a year and half. Pretty strict about it too, I very rarely cheated. Well now that I'm pregnant, meat is about the most disgusting thing I've ever seen, and cooking smells make me gag. I can force down a salad, but it usually comes right back up anyway.

I admit it. The only foods I've eaten for the past 2 weeks have been PB&J sandwiches, cheese pizza, mashed potatoes and ice cream. Any tips to help me cope? I feel guilty because I know my baby deserves better, but it feels like there's nothing I can do. Can anyone out there reassure me?

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564 · December 19, 2012 at 5:40 AM

Currently 37 weeks and about to pop, and had the same issue through the first and second trimesters. I had to relent and let myself eat what I could, bagels and macaroni, cereal, oatmeal, and milk. Meat was just repulsive and though previously veggies, salad and avacados were my regular fare, I could not, I mean COULD NOT make myself do it. I've always prided myself in my ability to basically eat anything, whether I liked it or not, purley for its nutritional content, but during this pregnancy its like someone was trying to get me to eat a live spider when it was just a grilled chicken salad.

All this being said, once I reached the 3rd trimester I decided I had enough strength to cut out the carbs and gluten and start the rebuild toward at least 80% paleo. Surprisingly, I am doing pretty well and have leveled off on the weight gain and have regained the clarity of mind I get from a gluten free diet, considering I have a pretty intense reaction to it including water retention, depression, and nasal congestion. I thought perhaps it was the pregnancy causing this, but once I cut out the gluten I've found it to have been the culprit.

Basically, do what you need to do to get the nutrients and vitamins needed to sustain your pregnancy in the beginning, considering the risk of miscarriage and such, and forgive yourself because the repulsion toward certain foods is nearly impossible to overcome, considering the hormone insanity going on in your body. Then if you can around the 7th, 8th month try to retrain yourself gently in preparation for the reclamation of your body, knowing your baby has developed to a little more self sufficient place and when you reach full term around 37 weeks your off the hook even more because the baby is ready to enter the world and full term, so you can be you. I'm still having a bowl of mini wheats, some yogurt a glass of milk here and there and I am really digging slim fast for keeping my sugar from dropping, but have really cut out the bread, I was super psyched when I had a low carb burger from hardees a few weeks ago and it was good with the lettuce, even though I can't do tomatoes still.

Your not ruining anything, your body was properly primed with your paleo diet, and you can return to it after the baby is born. What your body is asking of you is a bit out of your control, and it won't be the last time your child will make you do something he/she wants instead of what you want:)

3886 · December 16, 2012 at 7:27 PM

By the powers vested in me, I hereby UNBOUND YOU from the shackles of dietary thought! You have a precious body inside your precious body, and the only way to know for sure what that body needs is to FEEL!

Navigate your cravings expertly like an agile porpoise! Use your direct experience to determine what feels good to eat, not only in the moment, but in the hours afterward as well.


4612 · December 16, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Don't beat yourself up about not being able to do things perfectly. I could not eat meat or eggs from week 6-12 because I hated the smell and the idea of eating them made me gag.

I was however, able to keep things pretty paleo by having tons of potatoes with butter, and white rice with butter and some gluten free oats with butter and maple syrup. I also went on a broccoli raab kick that lasted for 2 weeks and I ate about 2 lbs a day with butter and garlic. I think the butter was the big thing that helped keep me in line.

I have noticed still (week 23) that I am eating way more carbs than pre-pregnancy but it has kept my energy up. I can eat meats and eggs now which is great, but I now eat tons of carrots (usually raw and peeled) as a sweet crunchy treat, lots of potatoes, soups with lots of veggies, and rice still on occasion.

It will (should!) get better, so no guilt, your baby is so tiny right now, as things continue you will be able to eat more ideally and your baby will get the best nutrition.

5814 · December 19, 2012 at 12:18 PM

If you've been eating paleo for a while, I think it's safe to say you can trust yourself to listen to your body. Pregnancy does weird things! For me, with baby #1 all I could eat was mashed potatoes. Baby #2 - caesar salad. Baby #3 - rotisserie chicken from whole foods (esp the skin!). Baby #4 - milk. Go figure.

20 · December 19, 2012 at 4:50 AM

I have had largely the same experience. I was Paleo for about 8 months before getting pregnant, and after about month number one, I just couldn't hack paleo anymore either. I am now at about week 19 and mainly trying to stay gluten free, and after that, just eat enough. Habitually, I eat pretty much only when hungry, and I have had a lot of difficulty keeping my appetite up. I actually lost weight (absolutely NOT trying to, really the opposite) up till about November 12th, and hopefully that has turned around now. My doctor wasn't worried about it, but she said eat whatever you can keep down and I needed to start gaining soon. Thanks for the post, and the question, as it is so nice to know I am not alone, especially in beating myself up about taking care of baby. Dan, thanks for your post! That's exactly what I needed to hear. Congrats by the way, and know it does get better. I would have felt better after month three, but I caught a cold and fought it for over three weeks before finally getting antibiotics (Another thing to guilt myself over, but I was miserable and not improving, and glad I did it now.), but now am feeling largely better and trying to just focus on eating enough. Feel better and well wishes!

32175 · December 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Hi Cherice~

Congrats on your pregnancy! No need to worry--you have been building up a good nutrient store for the past 18 months, so babe will be fine!

Yes, gluten-free is great if it works for you, but don't stress about it.

Here's a blog post I wrote that may be helpful: http://www.sondrarose.com/preventing-pregnancy-nausea

4247 · December 16, 2012 at 4:17 AM

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on pregnancy nutrition but:

-Potatoes are a good start for something Paleoish. Could you make mashed potatoes with lots of butter or broth - maybe make like a soup with some bone broth and potatoes?

-I know Haagen Dazs (I think?) makes a super pure version of ice cream with only 5 ingredients...that would at least be better for you than the standard kind, and full-fat dairy isn't the worst thing in the world. The sugar not so much, but dairy + sugar >>>>>> dairy + sugar + omgwtf weird chemical crap.

-if there was ever a good time to do the almond/coconut flour substitutions, this sounds like it.

I would also say stop judging yourself so harshly. You're doing as well as you can; don't beat yourself up about it.

7362 · December 16, 2012 at 4:12 AM

I had the same problem with morning sickness, everyday, all day for the first 3-4 months. That you are getting any food is good. Don't stress out, it will eventually pass, and you can eat super healthy. In the interim, just try to eat the best versions of those foods. You're making a whole other person, cut yourself some slack!

3029 · April 04, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Don't stress. Btw congratulations! If your navigating off plan your best bet would to choose organic junk food. Avoid atleast soy and any other chemicals/perservatives and gmos. Make sure the dairy you buy is grassfed, raw or at the very least organic. I know I'm not pregnant but when I get an aversion to meat for a week or a couple of weeks I up the fruit carbs, maybe throw some kerrygold cheese in there,a little raw milk yogurt, sweet potatoes, some Mapletons grassfed ice cream and lots and lots of bacon:) Have you tried making pasta with spaghetti squash and meatsauce. I have to admit if you don't overcook it, its absolutley delicious. Grassfed ice cream milkshakes or coconut milk milkshakes with dark chocolate (OMG!) would be easy on the digestion and a great source of calories and nourishment. You could even throw in some raw, pastured eggs (know your source) if you feel comfortable with that. btw, look up a coconut flour hot pocket/taco (they have them) even coocnut flour donuts. Paleoize as much as you can. Everything will fall into place.

30 · April 04, 2013 at 7:04 PM

I'm so happy to find and read this thread!! It's exactly what I was looking for. I am also seven weeks along and really, really struggling with the paleo menu. I'm afraid to stray because I'm afraid it will make me feel worse!! But so help me, I will turn inside out if I eat another egg, piece of meat, or almond. Ugh. All I want is chicken noodle soup! Or a hot pocket. Who eats hot pockets!?!?! I don't think I've ever had one in my life!!! This is my third pregnancy and I feel no less nuts than the previous two and it doesn't seem like paleo is soothing my sickness. It's pretty much identical to my previous pregnancies so I don't know why I think straying will make it worse. Oh wait, yes I do. Because I'm pregnant and crazy!! :) Thanks for the get-out-of-meat-jail-free card, everyone!

259 · December 20, 2012 at 1:34 AM

According to http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/sugar-issues.shtml

" The placenta turns glucose from the mother's blood into fructose, and the fructose in the mother's blood can pass through into the fetus, and although glucose can move back from the fetus into the mother's blood, fructose is unable to move in that direction, so a high concentration is maintained in the fluids around the fetus."

So probably fruits or fruit juices might be helpful.

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