Switching Dietary Gears

One of the oddest things to wrap my head around in regards to this pregnancy is the healthy weight gain part. At no point in my life (at least not the points that are memorable) has weight gain ever been considered “healthy.” Since January 2007, I’ve tried the opposite: healthy weight loss.

In November and December (my second and third months), morning sickness and fatigue altered my eating. Coffee–a love of mine since college–became a food aversion. My typical breakfast of eggs and an English muffin often turned to cereal and fruit or fruit and toast because the smell and taste of eggs (mostly Egg Beaters, for some reason) were sometimes off-putting. Chicken especially, but poultry, in general, also made me nauseous. Instead, I found myself loving:

  • the comfort of carbs (pasta, toast, oatmeal, Cheerios)
  • dairy (I’ve been living on milk, cheese and yogurt)
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (a breakfast must have in the early weeks)
  • fruit (an expensive habit: raspberries, bananas, apples, canned peaches, pears, pineapple–you name it, I want it)
  • Orange juice and tomato juice. I considered low sodium Spicy V8 essential for me getting the vitamins and minerals in veggies, considering I struggled to stomach them.
  • Ice cream and pickles. (Not at the same time.) So cliche.

A healthy pregnancy weight gain for me is only 11-20lbs. That’s not a lot. The books (and my doc) recommend just 1/2 a pound a week during the second and third trimesters and minimal weight gain during that first trimester. (In all, I’ve gained 4lbs between October 1 and now–the first 13 weeks.)

I’m learning to listen to my body and modify my diet accordingly. So far, it seems to be working.

  • Breakfast before: English muffin, 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters, 1/2 oz lowfat cheese (sometimes), coffee with half and half (200-240 calories)
  • Breakfast now: 1 TBS each of peanut butter and low sugar jam on light wheat bread, decaf green tea (180 calories) or 2 eggs, a slice of toast with a smear of Smart Balance and decaf green tea (240 calories)
  • Morning Snack before: nothing
  • Morning Snack now: apple and light string cheese, water (150-170 calories)
  • Lunch Before: large mixed green salad with grilled chicken, chick peas, light dressing (<350-400 calories)
  • Lunch Now: Soup (lentil, chicken noodle, potato or vegetable), yogurt with fruit (450 calories)
  • Snack before: smoothie made with Greek yogurt, skim milk and frozen fruit  (140 calories)
  • Snack now: the same (140 calories)
  • Dinner before: chicken/shrimp/lean pork, veggies and a healthy, complex carb (<400 calories)
  • Dinner now: This is the big challenge… I’m typically not in the mood to eat traditional dinner food. I’m trying to have a slightly larger serving of whole wheat pasta or brown rice with lean protein and sauteed veggies or whole wheat tortillas with chicken, onions, peppers and guac (~450 calories)
  • Evening Snack Before: nothing or sugar free Jello or pudding (25-80 calories)
  • Evening Snack Now: 1/4 cup of premium ice cream or a handful of pretzels (150 calories)
  • Optional Snacks throughout the day now: sometimes I get super-hungry suddenly and will grab a few pretzels, a small apple, some Trader Joe’s Ginger Cats, yogurt, pickles and a 1/2 oz of cheddar cheese or crackers (<100 calories)
  • Total Calories Before: under 1300
  • Total Calories Now: 1500-2000

Generally, I’m trying to get:

  • 3 protein servings
  • 4 veggies
  • 2-4 fruit
  • 3 dairy
  • 8+ glasses of water
  • 6-11 quality carbs

I have started documenting my food and logging the number of servings of each food group, but that’s about it. As long as my weight gain is appropriate (little to none through the first trimester and about a 1/2 pound a week every week after that), I’m content.

Since I have the week off from work and holiday festivities are over, being too tired to cook dinner is no longer an excuse. Here’s this week’s meal and exercise plan:


  • Lunch: leftovers (spinach salad with roasted veggies, nuts & cheese) & a hearty piece of wheat toast or a whole grain roll
  • Dinner: Shepherd’s pie with mixed veggies
  • Exercise: walk 2 miles


  • Lunch: Tuscan Vegetable Soup & grilled cheese & fruit
  • Dinner: Trader Joe’s burrito and side salad
  • Exercise: 5:30pm spin class


  • Lunch: Tuscan vegetable soup with grilled cheese and fruit
  • Dinner: leftover Shepherd’s pie with mixed veggies
  • Exercise: 6:30pm spin class


  • Lunch: Tuscan vegetable soup with cheese and crackers, fruit
  • Dinner: homemade pork-vegetable lo mein
  • Exercise: elliptical 4 miles/1 hour



2 responses to “Switching Dietary Gears

  1. It’ll be so interesting reading your food and exercise journey through the pregnancy! So often we all read about people who go out of control, but it really looks like youre going to keep food under control as best as you can 🙂 Yay! Congrats again!

  2. I just want to first say congratulations! Val told me a few weeks ago but said I wasn’t allowed to say anything, but this is wonderful news. I also want to say that I admire and aspire to have your discipline about eating and exercise. My next pregnancy will be a struggle with weight gain where my first was not–I’ll have to stay in that 11-20# window as well. I hope I can look back on your work on this blog to keep myself on track. I’ll be reading avidly along the way of your journey!

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