How To Eat With Morning Sickness

by 11:10 AM 0 comments
My first clue that I was pregnant was when I was eating a fish dinner with some relatives. I was really enjoying the meal, and then suddenly, it was repulsive. I almost made a complaint to the owners because I was sick all night with what I was sure was some kind of food poisoning. In hindsight, I know that I was four weeks pregnant!

At five weeks, I was at a USY Convention and things were getting worse. It wasn't just fish that looked bad; my favorite vegetables were also suspect. The only things that I really enjoyed eating that weekend were chocolate cake and plain rice. A few days later, I confirmed my suspicions of pregnancy and everything made sense. But the question was: what to eat?

I had previously been on a vegan-except-for-eco-sustainable-fish diet, and I had already read on a lot of vegan mom blogs and message boards about the benefits of veganism as a tool to combat morning sickness. The claim is that women actually get worse morning sickness from meat, dairy, and sugar. With a vegan diet and moderate exercise, they say, your symptoms will be practically reduced to nothing. Just eat your fruits and veggies, you'll be fine!

So I woke up every day for a run, drank a kale smoothie, threw up, and clutched my stomach while lying in the fetal position (ha) in bed for an hour or so. Every morning. Then I would sip ginger tea and have a cup of lentil soup, with similar results. I'm embarrassed to admit how long this lasted before I realized it just wasn't working out.

My first foray back into the land of regular vegetarianism was some organic cheese with crackers. It wasn't as amazing as it would have been if I were fully functioning health-wise, but I kept it down, which was a big deal. I decided to stop listening to other women and to start listening to what my own body wanted, which was a lot of dairy products.

For breakfast, I had a bagel with egg and cheese. For lunch, I had pizza. For dinner, I had mac and cheese with spinach, or saag paneer. It wasn't what I would have chosen for myself in a perfect world, but I was functioning again! I don't know why, but something about dairy allowed my stomach to digest the foods I was eating.

At first, I felt guilty about not meeting all of the nutritional requirements of pregnancy, but when I learned more about it, I found that these don't kick in until the second and third trimesters. That makes sense, because most babies whose mothers have morning sickness have slightly better expected health outcomes, and those moms are pretty limited in their food choices.

I found a lot of other women who have gone through similar experiences after googling something like "pregnant used to be vegan." Prior to actually getting pregnant, I thought I had planned everything out, so the experience of failing at my diet/exercise pregnancy regimen was very humbling. I can definitely say I gained a new perspective on food aversions/picky eaters; it never seemed like a serious thing until I got it!

Anyway, my advice to anyone with morning sickness in the first trimester is to eat what you can, and don't feel bad about what you can't. There's no need to stress or feel guilty, and I know that anyone with morning sickness is already miserable enough! Your baby will be fine if you are on an exclusive junk food diet, and you'll likely be back to normal and able to eat healthily again by the time it matters for fetal development.

Weirdest (and most inconvenient) aversion: water! I had to buy sparkling only for a few weeks when I was at my worst. 

Thank you, Trader Joes! My only source of protein for a while was peanut butter pretzels. 

Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.


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