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Eating Well during Pregnancy: Coping with Morning Sickness Nausea What's Cooking?
Katja Leccisi, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
en español

Morning sickness nausea

Most women have some “morning sickness” during their first trimester of pregnancy, and it can be really unpleasant. Getting up in the morning to go to work or to care for other children can be torture, as you battle waves of nausea. And for some of us, the nausea is not limited to mornings, so days can feel very long and exhausting. Fortunately, for most women, it is all resolved by the second trimester, but it is important to have some coping strategies to get through those difficult weeks.

First and foremost, listen to your body and eat what you feel like eating! Don’t worry overly about getting it all “right.” Eat and drink what you can tolerate. Go along with your cravings. Sometimes the foods you crave can make you feel better. I remember wanting french fries with salt and vinegar early in my pregnancy! Recently I read an article saying that sour foods (like vinegar) can help alleviate nausea. Maybe my body knew what it needed!

Rest as much as you can. If you are tired and sleep deprived, the symptoms may be worsened. Get up slowly. Let the little ones snuggle a little longer with you as you get up in stages. Take a nap during the day if you can fit one in.

I know that when you don’t feel well, eating is not something you want to do, but nausea is often worse on an empty stomach. Try to eat small amounts, every few hours. Think of snacks as mini-meals. Ideally, include some carbohydrate for some quick energy and some protein, which will be digested more slowly and help you get to your next snack. Some examples are crackers or fruit with cheese or peanut butter. Or sip on a smoothie (like the one in the recipe below).

Some women find that avoiding spicy and fattier foods helps lessen nausea, but again, listen to your body and see what works for you.

Drink enough. Dehydration can make you feel worse. Sipping small amounts throughout the day may be more tolerable than downing a big glass at a time.

Consider taking your prenatal vitamin at a time of day when you feel better. You don’t need to take it first thing in the morning. Or try splitting it into two and taking two halves at different times.

Try incorporating ginger into your eating and drinking. There is some evidence that ginger can alleviate symptoms of nausea, with no adverse effects. I like making ginger tea, by adding a few slices of fresh ginger to boiling water and letting it steep a few minutes—the longer it steeps the stronger it will taste. You can add some lemon juice and honey or maple syrup to taste. I also travel with crystallized ginger that I nibble on, and ginger “chew” candies that come in many forms. I incorporate ginger into marinades and salad dressings too.

When should you be concerned? If you are vomiting and can’t keep any food down, there is a chance you could be dehydrated. If you feel severely weak or dizzy or faint when standing up, and have very dark-colored urine, you should call your health care provider.

Here’s a recipe for a “smoothie” I like that incorporates ginger and some vitamin-filled kale and fruits. Vary the fruits to suit your taste. If you can tolerate it, you could also add some yoghurt or milk.

Green Smoothie

green-smoothie-breastfeedingtoday

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 cups (60 g) kale, packed, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup (165 g) ripe mango cubes
  • 1 cup (150 g) ripe peaches
  • 1 Tbsp (6 g) minced fresh ginger
  • 2 lemons or limes, juiced (1/4 cup/60 ml)
  • 2 cups (480 ml) water
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup/honey (optional)

Method

  1. Place ice in a blender and crush. Add kale, mango, peaches, ginger, lemon/lime juice (gradually), and 1 cup water (240 ml) to start.
  2. Blend until smooth, only adding water a little at a time as needed (less if your fruit is frozen), and scraping down the sides/mixing as needed.
  3. Once well blended, taste. If it’s too tart, add more fruit or a little maple syrup or honey. For more zing, add more ginger. To make it thicker/colder, add more ice. Blend as needed.
  4. Serve in glasses and enjoy fresh. Any leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours. (Adapted from The Minimalist Baker.)

Part 2. Eating Well during Pregnancy: Weight Gain

Part 3. Eating Well during Pregnancy: Iron Requirements

Katja Leccisi, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian-nutritionist in both Canada and the United States. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with families and educators in clinical, community, and workshop settings in both countries. Her first book is now published, How to Feed Your KidsFour Steps to Raising Healthy Eaters. Katja is the mother of a young adult daughter, and the stepmother of two primary school-aged children. She lives in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, where she enjoys yoga, meditation, music, gardening, cooking, and a very active outdoor life all year-round.

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