Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Snacks, naps, and salt

As I approach the end of my first trimester, I am eagerly anticipating the nausea-free zone. I am constantly being assured that it's coming, that somewhere around thirteen or fourteen weeks I will miraculously start feeling like a million bucks. I'm ready.
In the meantime, I have been relying on a few foods to see me through the minefield that is the "iffy" stomach, and safely satisfy my preggo cravings.

Apples-- Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady as they have thinner skins, thus eliminating the need for excessive chewing, which gets the saliva going...and we know how that ends. I've been cutting them into slices and, if I need an extra protein boost, spreading them with all natural peanut butter.

Trail mix-- I carry this around in my bag with me at all times. I'm a trail mix purist. That is, I use the same recipe we used for Gorp when I was in the Girl Scouts some twenty years ago: Equal parts peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms. I have made the small concession of opting for dark chocolate M&Ms since I can make myself believe they are better for me (If I were very good I would use a candy that didn't contain all those artificial colors, but...I'm just not ready to go that far.) There's a reason trail mix exists, ladies. Just a handful gives you a perfect proportion of protein, carbohydrates, and fat to keep you going when your energy's flagging.

Fruit leather, cereal bars and granola bars from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods-- All the convenience of convenience food, without the high fructose corn syrup and weird additives.

Cucumbers and Carrots-- We've got to get our veggies, and lots of them, but most days I just don't want to look at anything green. I dip sliced cucumber and baby carrots in hummus or organic ranch dressing to obtain my veggie benefits. I've also toasted a slice of multi-grain bread, spread it with a little cream cheese and topped it with cucumber slices and capers (you can even throw a tomato slice on there if you're feeling adventurous) for a quick and cool open-faced vegetable sandwich.

Cottage Cheese-- The perfect afternoon snack: loaded with protein and calcium, and incredibly versatile. You can eat it on its own or with blueberries, fresh pineapple, or peaches. You can eat it with sliced beefsteak tomatoes, or my personal favorite: fresh ground black pepper and a dill pickle on the side (what can I say, I'm pregnant.)

Which bring me to salt. In addition to those extra 300 calories a day (yes, only 300) pregnant women are also advised to increase their salt intake. If you were already a sodium lover before you got pregnant (not pointing any fingers) chances are you're getting enough, but it's recommended that you not try to cut back on salt during pregnancy.

A craving for pickles or potato chips may be your body's way of telling you that you need more salt. We lose sodium when we suffer morning sickness, and Progesterone makes us lose more sodium in our urine. At the same time we're increasing our blood volume, and thus, our need for salt.

Opt for whole-wheat pretzels, nuts, string cheese or (yes) pickles to tackle your craving. As with all cravings, it's best to try to obtain some nutritional value from the foods we choose. So, you're craving french fries...your brain may be interpreting your nutritional need for salt as a craving for a food that will deliver plenty of it. That doesn't mean it's the best choice, or that your craving won't be satisfied by, say, a baked potato with low-fat sour cream and a liberal dose of kosher salt.

That being said...some french fries every once in awhile won't kill you. This is a time when we should be mindful of our bodies and kind to ourselves. I believe an occasional indulgence, if it makes you feel good, is necessary for mental health. So too are lots and lots of naps.

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