Most of us don’t give much thought to what motherhood will look like until we’re pregnant (or trying to get pregnant). But Katie Sobel’s been prepping for nearly a decade, as one of the first employees at Plum Organics. Currently Plum’s Vice President of Brand Engagement and Marketing Communications, Katie helped develop the brand’s food philosophy, which is uniquely focused on palate development and supporting baby through the first 1,000 days.
Now that she’s expecting her first baby, she’s putting her health and baby background to good use, honing her own pregnancy diet and prepping to feed her baby the healthiest way she can. Below, she shares what she’s been eating (and craving!), and opens up about the food moment she’s most looking forward to sharing with her own baby.
What’s your pregnancy diet been like?
As with many pregnancies, some of my digestive issues have flared up and it’s been challenging not to be able to turn to my usual tinctures and herbal concoctions given some of risks associated with adaptogens and herbs when you’re pregnant. I have instead tried to focus on warming foods (bone broths, cooked vegetables and tons of ginger tea) when I’m feeling a little out of sorts. I also believe that my clean diet has helped me to maintain good energy throughout my pregnancy.
How has a decade in the baby industry helped prepare you for pregnancy?
Well, it’s been great hands-on training, that’s for sure! I don’t know if I can officially claim that I’ve earned my MBA (“Masters in Baby Affairs”) but I’ve sure earned some credits. It’s been incredible to have a front row seat as the baby industry has evolved over the last decade, and to know that Plum team has played a big part of that shift.
Back when I first started, the category was completely stagnant with the same bland baby food jars that had been around for 50 years. Today, there are so many amazing brands focused on the things that I value: beautiful design, reliable performance, clean ingredients & a strong mission. At Plum, we use a Human Centered Design process for all of our innovation, which means we take an empathic approach and really listen to our consumers. Over the years, I’ve had the benefit of having incredibly unfiltered conversations with new parents and it’s provided me with some eye-opening insights!
How has being pregnant impacted your work at Plum?
My background in culinary nutrition gives me a unique perspective when it comes to the products we develop and meeting the needs of our littlest consumers. I’m also one of Plum’s very first employees, so I’ve been able to rely on my deep knowledge of the brand. But for me, there was always a piece of the puzzle missing … and that was being a parent. My pregnancy at Plum feels like a full circle moment. It’s been a bit surreal. I value empathy and try to operate from that place when it comes to our communications; my pregnancy has just made me that much more connected and aware.
What have you been craving most during your pregnancy?
I was fortunate that I never had bad morning sickness – just a few weeks of feeling queasy and having a strong aversion to what, at times, felt like almost everything! When I came out of that phase, the only specific craving I had was for an everything bagel with dill cream cheese. I don’t eat a lot of processed food and am gluten-free, but I was able to find this delicious product called Pagels. If you toast it realllllly well and use some of Ben’s famous cream cheese, it’s almost like the real thing. Does that count as indulgent?
What’s been your daily pregnancy food go-tos?
I’ve tried to focus on key nutrients during each trimester. Some weeks I’ve been successful, others have been harder. Now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m focusing on healthy fats. Baby’s brain is doing a lot of growing during this phase and essential fatty acids are critical. I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m incredibly picky about where my meat comes from, so keeping my protein up has been one of my biggest challenges this whole pregnancy. Luckily, my husband is an eager cook so he works hard to keep wild salmon, pasture-raised chicken and grass-fed beef in the dinner rotation.
What’s it been like learning to dress your body during this pregnancy?
My pregnancy style is not too different from how I was dressing before. I like to keep things practical, which usually means a great pair of jeans and tops that can be layered and dressed up or down. Though I stick to simple, neutral toned pieces, I add components that offer a little bit of edge like a funky bracelet or interesting sneakers. And when I have an excuse to dress up, I look for good design and something unexpected like a unique shape or pattern.
Every stage of pregnancy has brought its own set of style challenges. I’m petite so it’s easy for me to get lost in clothes if they’re not the perfect fit – and when you’re pregnant, you aren’t going to spend the money to get something tailored. I’ve also noticed that just when you start to feel good in your skin and embrace your new shape, it changes on you. I try my best to focus on the positive, which for me are the moments when I feel the most feminine.
What food experience are you most looking forward to sharing with your baby?
I am really excited to breastfeed. Every day I put it out in the universe that that will be something that comes easy for our family. I’m so fascinated by the communication that is happening between mother and child during this stage of nourishment; how the body on a daily basis is adjusting the composition of the breast milk to account for baby’s immunity and needs at that given moment. It’s so intricate and simply miraculous.
Beyond that, I can’t wait for first foods. Even with so many new guidelines and progressive minds out there, too many parents still worry about mixing flavors and separating the introduction of new foods. My personal philosophy and Plum’s food philosophy is that complex flavors help thwart picky eating. In our house, we plan to use herbs and spices and mix and match as often as possible.
I know how dedicated you are to nontoxic, healthy products. How has that impacted your baby prep?
I feel confident I’ve got the food angle covered, but I’ve definitely learned a ton while searching for clean products outside of the food aisle. While they tend to be more expensive, I am impressed with how many great companies are making non-toxic & Green Guard Certified products and prioritizing communicating these benefits, which makes the whole industry more accountable. When shopping for products that will go on our baby’s skin, my go-to is definitely the EWG and their thorough rating list; I then scan first hand products reviews and write ups from some of my favorite lifestyle experts and natural parenting authors. For bedding, furniture and clothing my priorities are limiting extra chemicals (like flame retardants, formaldehyde etc.) and looking for natural organic cottons.
Give us your top 5 registry essentials.
1. DockATot baby lounger: my friends have not stopped raving about this!
2. SNOO: my biggest fear is not sleeping, so here’s hoping!
3. Anything from BitteShop.com – all of their non-toxic toys (love the Oli & Carol rubber boats) and adorable clothing
4. Guava Family Lotus Bassinet and Pack & Play: love that it’s a travel system and is Green Guard Certified
5. Keekaroo changing table: easy wipe & clean surface that’s BPA-, PVC-, latex and phthalate free
Photography by Ren’ee Kahn Bresler for Well Rounded. Shot on location at Whole Foods in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
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