Eating for Om

6 Ways that food can help reduce anxiety during pregnancy.

Eating for Om

It’s no surprise that pregnancy can be a jumble of emotions, including anxiety and nervousness. After all, so much of the experience is in the realm of the unknown, and what to expect--especially for first-time moms--is all is quite unpredictable.

There are a variety of tools we can use when it comes to calming the mind, including yoga and meditation, sleep, time outdoors, finding and relying on support from others, and taking mental health days off work when possible. Did you know, though, that certain foods--in addition to nourishing your growing little one--could also bring a little calmness and levelness to your world?

Here are 6 tips to eat your way to a healthy body and quiet mind.

1. Eat often enough to keep your body fueled. A body that thinks it’s starving can’t keep calm: it will keep a vigilant watch for fuel, and this hyper-aware, hyper-hungry state produces many of the same internal responses as high-stress survival situations.

2. Eat non-starchy fresh veggies. Veggies are an essential part of a whole foods diet, and many of the minerals they contain (like calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc), as well as Vitamins A, B, C, E and K play a substantial role in mood regulation and emotional well-being. When the body identifies its nutritional bases are covered, it more easily settles into calmness, rather than panic that the food supply might be running out. Four or more 1-cup servings per day is a great place to start.

3. Eat quality proteins. Protein provides the body with amino acids that are the building blocks for many of the neurotransmitters circulating in our brains that control anxiety. Wild-caught fish, free-range eggs and vegan proteins like hemp, brown rice, legumes and fermented soy are great sources, as are pastured meats and organic dairy.

4. Eat healthy fats. Fats are key for the nervous system, hormonal health and many other physiological processes that underscore anxiety. Not only do these help the body absorb vitamins from other foods, but they tell the oldest part of our brain that food is plentiful: when there is fat, the body knows we are not in the middle of a famine and won’t turn on survival-panic mode. Play with coconut oil and milk, avocado, olive oil, flax seeds, walnuts and other nuts, fish and full-fat organic dairy.

5. Incorporate zinc and B-Vitamins. These play a role in balancing the body and allowing the system to feel calm. (In fact, a deficiency in either of these has been linked to depression and agoraphobia, so particularly during pregnancy when hormones are all over the place, it can pay off to be aware of these nutrients.) Great sources of zinc include grass-fed organic red meat, pastured chicken, wild-caught fish, soaked/roasted grains and nuts, pumpkin seeds, miso, mushrooms, and broccoli. We find Vitamin B in grass-fed organic meat, potatoes, bananas, chiles, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, brown rice, quinoa, blackstrap molasses and nutritional yeast.

6. Avoid sugar, caffeine, processed foods and refined grains. As much as your cravings will allow, try to stick away from these. The up-and-down effect they have on blood sugar is jarring to the system and can actually make the body feel like it’s having an anxiety attack when it’s not. An even, calm mind doesn’t run well on the erratic energy provided by processed or high-sugar foods. Swap in whole grains and gentle sugars from fruit or root vegetables.

Image source.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

My 4.5-year-old is, let's say, spirited in his opinions. He very clearly knows what he wants and doesn't want (oh to have the confidence of a stubborn preschooler!). And what he doesn't want right now is anything that looks too babyish. "That's for babies," he'll say if I give him anything with primary colors or looks too miniature. He doesn't want the baby fork and spoon, he wants what grown-ups use. He doesn't want the baby plastic cups and plates, he wants the glass and ceramic ones.

Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

Keep reading Show less

10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

Keep reading Show less