The first trimester of pregnancy is NO JOKE! No doubt it is an exciting time of anticipation; but nausea, vomiting, food cravings, food aversions, crazy dreams, acne, and a slew of other symptoms are all part of the ride. The anxiety of nourishing your body and growing baby is real, yet the nausea can make it difficult to eat foods you are used to. I have compiled this list of tips and food ideas based on what worked for me and others I am close to. By no means is this article complete or scientifically-tested, but I do want to share what helped me in an attempt to help you, too!
Tips for making snacks and meals during pregnancy nausea
1. Include protein, fat, and carbohydrate
Snacks and meals including a good portion of protein, fat, and carbohydrate help to feel fuller longer. Being fuller longer keeps the nausea at bay and offers the best bet at having some energy. Whenever I just nibble on crackers and applesauce all day, I have zero energy. The carbs spike my blood sugar and it quickly plunges back down again. Fat and protein keep me at a steady energy level.
2. Muster the First Bite
Just the smell of food can be enough to turn me completely off to eating. Especially when I spend an hour making a meal, smelling all the smells, it becomes unappetizing to eat when it’s ready. However, when I muster through the first bite, my appetite is (sometimes) stimulated enough to keep eating a little more. One trick I have started doing to keep food smells out of my house is using my InstaPot to cook dinner and plugging it in outside.
3. Eat every two hours
Hunger pangs—even the slightest ones—only accentuate pregnancy nausea. I have become used to snacking every two hours and it makes a world of difference. Of course, this makes my meals smaller, and that is fine, because I am getting enough nourishment through the entire day’s food.
4. Overeating at meals=misery and More nausea
A few times during my first trimester nausea, I found a few meals or snacks that felt SO GOOD going down. I guess they were so good I didn’t pay attention to how much I was eating. Half an hour later, I was in complete misery. Overeating makes nausea SO much worse.
5. Take Prenatal Vitamins right before bed
I actually don’t take a conventional prenatal vitamin myself. The iron in most vitamins makes me too sick and too constipated (sorry TMI, but I promise I’m not the only one)! I don’t suggest the same for you. Many pregnant women are low in iron or even anemic, and avoiding a vitamin would be dangerous. Talk to your doctor about a vitamin that works best for your needs. I take just folate and vitamin D, and I’m careful to make sure I eat fortified cereal and eat a balanced diet to make up for anything I lack from not taking a prenatal. One thing is certain: taking a prenatal before bed means I am unconscious when the nausea caused by vitamin kicks in. This helps a lot.
Snack and Meal Ideas for Pregnancy Nausea
Here’s a running list of the snacks and meals I eat during the nausea-laden first trimester of pregnancy. I hope some of these might help you as you are trying to grapple through your nausea as well.
Club Soda and Citrus– The carbonation is settling to my stomach and the lemon, orange, or lime is so refreshing. This is a great alternative to sugary sodas, and it hydrates me when plain water is difficult to stomach. One key thing: the drink has to have ice and be in a glass. Plastic has a smell, and it is yucky to drink out of plastic when I’m pregnant.
Cottage Cheese with grapes or grape tomatoes– Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are not only great sources of protein and calcium, but they also provide B-vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc for a growing fetus.
Crackers and cheese– Combining the two gives me a complete protein without having to eat meat. Nausea makes eating meat pretty difficult at times. However at other times, I totally crave a nice steak and it feels so good going down.
Greek yogurt berry and nut parfait– Greek yogurt contains more probiotics (good bacteria for your gut) than most foods, and it is an excellent source of calcium.
Almonds and Grapes– Almonds are a great source of fiber, and healthy fats and protein. The grapes add carbohydrate. My favorite treat when I don’t feel great is frozen grapes. They slowly melt in my mouth and sooth my sick tummy. Yum!
Peanut butter and honey or banana sandwich– I totally resort to comfort foods when I’m not feeling well. This snack provides plenty of fiber, folate, potassium, iron and calcium—all essential for a developing baby.
Smoothies– A great way to sneak some spinach into my diet without having to chew it is to drink it in a smoothie. Including kefir in my smoothie also provides copious quantities of probiotics which may reduce pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, vaginal infections, allergies, and gestational diabetes.
Outshine® Fruit Popsicles– I get lots of vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants from these refreshing, all-natural popsicles. The trick is hiding them from my kids so I can actually eat some!
Eggs and Avocado Toast– Eggs, with their healthy fats and proteins, are gentle on my tummy. Eggs are a great source of choline–a vitamin essential to brain development. Eating avocadoes on my toast provides even more healthy fats along with B vitamins, potassium, and vitamins K, E, and C.
Baked potato with cheese, Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado- Baked potatoes are a great source of fiber and potassium and make a wonderfully nutritious comfort food when topped with healthy fats and proteins like cheese, Greek Yogurt, or avocadoes. Add a cooked vegetable, and I have a super simple and complete meal.
Baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon- This simple snack is not just comforting. Sweet potatoes are packed with plant-based vitamin A and beta-carotene—essential for growth and differentiation of cells in a developing fetus. The cinnamon also helps to curb all my inevitable sugar cravings!
Cooked vegetables– Raw vegetables are so hard for me to stomach when I’m nauseous, but cooked veggies are somehow ok. It’s weird.
Cereal with frozen berries, walnuts, and Almond Milk– Cheerios or Grape Nuts are my jam! The awesome thing about these cereals is they are fortified with vitamins and minerals. For someone who is naughty about taking a prenatal vitamin (see above), cereal is a snack I must eat every day. Eating it with vitamin C from the berries allows my body to better absorb the iron in the cereal. The walnuts and milk provide fat and protein to make this a complete meal.
Frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit- The folks at YogurtLand know me by name now. I really have tried every flavor they make within the last couple months. Frozen yogurt is a great treat, because it isn’t quite so heavy as ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, I eat ice cream too, but frozen yogurt is a bit more refreshing when my nausea is getting the best of me.
Pretzels dipped in yogurt- Are you seeing a pattern here of salty/sweet combinations? Certainly, salty equals settling for me. Dipping them in yogurt provides some nutrition to an otherwise nutritionally empty snack.
Mints, Gum, Ricola cough drops- Between meals and snacks, it’s helpful to keep my mouth moist. The menthol in mints, gum, and cough drops is settling. The mint flavor masks the flavor of whatever I just ate, and experience has proven that if I can taste or smell food I’ve already spent time with, the nausea comes right back.
I hope you find something in this list that works for you. Best wishes to you as you prepare to welcome a new little one to your family!