Welcome to Birthing Ayurveda, where we follow one woman's pregnancy experience week by week—from a positive home pregnancy test all the way to delivery.
I had been eating only mung dal cooked with veggies, with fruit as my snacks, for two to three weeks. And I just about had it. One day I was eating a bowl of my dal, and I looked at it with exhaustion. My taste buds were not interested and it almost made me nauseated. I came to the kitchen table where some of my family was sitting and prepping for dinner, and I announced that all I want to eat is a tostada!
My sister-in-law insisted that we do it and began to prep some post-meal anti-nausea remedies (ginger, etc.). My brother jumped up with our friend and they ran out the door to grab a tostada from not one, but two fast food restaurants (I know—don’t judge—not the healthiest but that was what was on my mind!).
They said my face was ten times brighter after I ate that tostada, and I felt just fine afterwards aside from a tinge of nausea. My digestion had the break it needed and my body was now ready for taste and enjoyment. The fear that was crippling me from eating anything besides fruit and dal kept me from tuning in to that awareness.
That isn’t to say that I started to eat absolutely everything.
I often found myself not interested at all in foods that I thought I would want. And when I did not listen to that intuition, I almost always paid for it afterwards.
Food desires are a funny thing in that many of us are so out of tune with our bodies that we misinterpret cravings. Many women fall into this boat during pregnancy and eat large amounts of foods that ultimately do not serve them well (sweets, for an example). Understanding these cravings takes time and requires us to really pause and pull away from the many tasks we juggle.
Instead of simply asking what food, ask what taste you are interested in. Often times our minds have made quick associations of certain foods with tastes (like cake with sweet). Perhaps a piece of fruit or a date shake will do the trick. Ask what qualities your body is craving. Maybe it is heaviness and grounding that it is craving, in which case dal, a warm glass of milk, or rice pudding can be what the body needs.
Food nourishes and replenishes the body with nutrients. The food you eat, literally, is becoming your baby. So choose your food with consciousness.
Depending on your digestion (note whether you are having more nausea and bloating with food like I was), these are foods that are ideal in the first trimester.
- Eat sattvic foods. Foods that are easy to digest, not too spicy, salty, or sweet, and occasionally enjoy heavy foods (cheese, garlic, onions).
- As the baby is largely in a gelatinous, semi-solid state, eat foods that are like this state. Milk is fantastic during this first trimester, as is sweet milk boiled with rice (the Indian dessert, kheer).
- Towards the end of the first trimester, your blood is really building. Make sure you are eating foods high in iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
- Omega-3 fatty acids help promote a healthy pregnancy, especially a healthy nervous system.
- Don’t always over think it. An occasional slice of cake or fast food meal will not necessarily harm you or your baby. Allow for spontaneity and listen to your body even if it is asking for these foods once in a while.
As always, have good habits while eating. Do not watch TV or work while eating. Be present and meditative with each bite, appreciating the work it will do to nourish yourself and your baby. Try to eat at regular times of the day. Mind your and do not overwhelm it with too much hard-to-digest foods.