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Food Issues During Pregnancy

Amy Height helps you get comfortable with your relationship with food while pregnant.

Food Issues During Pregnancy

Our relationship to food is often brought to the surface of our minds during pregnancy. As though there isn’t already enough to worry about--the emotions, the physical discomfort, the impending human to care for--many of us also become increasingly concerned about eating well, gaining weight and dealing with cravings.

As a health coach, I often hear things like: “How will I manage my food issues when I’m expecting?” or “I’d love to work out my food issues before my child arrives [because I don’t want to project those onto her].”

If your relationship with food has ever been a struggle for you, from concerns about your weight or emotional eating to eating disorders, pregnancy can reactivate many of these anxieties. But by digging into what underlies these concerns, we can limit patterns and behaviors that might lead us to unhealthy choices during pregnancy.

Read on for some of the most common questions I receive from my clients, and how you can tackle these if they’re concerns for you.

Is Pregorexia a thing?

Yes, sadly, it is. Pregorexia is a condition wherein an expectant mom limits food intake during pregnancy for fear of gaining weight, often to the detriment of her health and the health of her baby. For someone who fears gaining weight, food can be the mechanism by which they gain control instead: if we eat less, we’re told, we’ll weigh less. This is a pattern most women admit to dabbling in, and we see it often in the dieting world. It becomes especially problematic during pregnancy because food can’t be restricted in the same way: we need to eat to fuel ourselves and to grow baby. Read on for ways to uncover why food and body image feel tough for you and how you can work through it.

I feel guilty when I’m hungry.

Knowing that you may feel hungrier than usual when you’re expecting can be an unpleasant thought, especially if you equate hunger with guilt or weakness. With practice--and consistent positive affirmation--we can relearn that hunger is a natural, appropriate biological sensation: it is a signal of something important (‘You need to eat to survive’), not a reminder of a weakness. Understand that food has a very specific role, particularly during pregnancy, and that the food choices you make will significantly impact your baby’s development. Then respond to your hunger signals with an intention to nourish, not berate, yourself.

I feel like I am addicted to certain foods. I worry this is going to be problematic when I’m expecting and not in control of my emotions or my body.

If you sometimes feel out of control with food, as though you can’t stop eating once you start, you are not alone. We are wired to interpret experiences that ensure our survival (like eating and mating) as most pleasurable. Add cravings or emotional vulnerability to the equation and things get a little more complicated. To ensure eating happens in the most supportive way possible, try:

  • Eat only when you’re hungry. Notice where, when and how intensely you feel hunger and use that to inform your action. The body registers fullness by the amount of change it experiences: if it wasn’t super hungry to begin with, it will need to have more food in order to feel the same amount of shift (and register doneness). When we feel true hunger, we can respond with food and put the body back in balance. If we’re actually tired, upset or in need of movement, we can give the body the non-food nourishment it needs without opening the floodgates for overeating.
  • Identify your trigger foods. Consider taking these out of rotation for a short period to break the habit of overdoing it (as you may know, guilt and bingeing can become quite cyclical). Be prepared by having other healthy alternatives handy. Consider similar tastes, textures and temperatures when finding foods to swap in. By setting clear parameters for yourself, you reduce the number of decisions you might make from an emotional--and otherwise out of control--place.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable. If you’re committed to being good to yourself, have a partner, a coach or a friend to hold you to your commitment. Know that this doesn’t mean restricting your food: it means having support to make the right decision about eating.

I’ve heard that if I crave a certain food, it means my body needs that specific food. If I have cravings for junk, should I indulge?

While it is true that the body signals its needs through cravings, we are not wired to biologically need a Snickers. If you struggle with maintaining reasonable portions with certain foods--especially those hyperpalatables, which are loaded with fat, sugar and salt--keep your distance from them. Consider, though, that your body might be asking for a particular component of that food (Sugar for energy? Fat for rebuilding the nervous system? Protein to build blood cells?). Whenever possible, we want to indulge these cravings with healthy alternatives (think: organic dark chocolate instead of four Snickers bars; whole cultured organic goats milk yogurt instead of Ben and Jerry’s; kale chips instead of the family-sized bag of Lay’s).

However, it’s important to be clear with yourself about why you’re avoiding these types of foods. If you feel like a failure for eating treat foods, regardless of how infrequently it might occur, there might be a deeper emotional connection or self-assessment attached to having/not having these. Be honest with yourself and confront your emotions. Then, feel free to indulge those cravings with healthy alternatives, or forgive yourself when nothing but a burger will do.

How can I become clear on my relationship with food before my little one arrives?

Spend some honest introspective time with yourself. Using a journal, or during a meditation practice, ask: Why am I afraid of gaining weight? What will it mean if my body changes? How will this change who I am? Do I define myself exclusively by my size and my appearance?

For so many women, we feel our bodies define us, especially in relation to each other. To think that our very defining factor is about to change can be terrifying: who are we if not an effortless Size 2? I challenge you to dig into the other aspects of you that make you unique. Allow yourself to acknowledge the incredible work your body will do throughout your pregnancy (and beyond!); it’s an incredible machine, no matter how it changes. When we allow ourselves to not get too wrapped up in how the body looks, but connect to loving it for all that it can do, we create space to thrive in our baby-body without feeling ashamed.

Image source.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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