Well folks, my pregnant Whole30 journey has taken off!
Pregnant Whole30 has been no small undertaking. I’ll be honest in sharing that ours was nothing like I had planned. Dec. 29, I came down with the flu, which receded into a severe upper respiratory infection, and it had me down for the count for a good 7 days. I’m still struggling to get rid of the URI, but I’m at least mostly functional now. This meant I had no opportunity to shop, let alone prep, for our Whole30. Poor Ryan was busy taking care of me, so he couldn’t do it either.
Still, we started on Jan. 2, as planned. We just didn’t eat the same foods we had intended to, and it was very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants time for us. I also was not in a SUPER great mental headspace for embarking on this challenge, but a commitment is a commitment.
I learned a couple of things this first week:
- A prenatal Whole30 is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
- Doing the Whole30 while sick is not for the faint of heart.
- A Whole30 is still possible even while sick AND pregnant, if you’re really committed.
Let me explain.
A Pregnant Whole30 Is Hard
It’s tough to strictly follow the Whole30 guidelines and still get enough calories in your body for you and a growing baby. That’s because most nutrient-dense foods take up a lot of space, filling you up with fewer calories. Great if you’re trying to lose weight, but not so great if you’re building a human.
This challenge is compounded by the fact that in your second and third trimesters, you just can’t eat as much in one sitting as you used to anyway. Your stomach has shrunk thanks to your baby squishing all your insides (stomach included).
Many women compensate for this by eating more frequent smaller meals. That’s cool if you have time, but I’m running a business and ALSO sick right now, so I didn’t have the energy or bandwidth to be throwing together a meal every 2-3 hours. The end result was that I felt full half the time, hangry the other half of the time with no food planned to feed my hanger, and I was barely achieving 1600 calories a day.
I talked with Stephanie Greunke of Rock Your Hormones, who is also a Whole30 Certified Coach and creator of the Whole30 Healthy Mama Happy Baby handbook/community (which I highly recommend, by the way).
She audited a day’s worth of food for me, and suggested that I incorporate more healthy fats. This would allow me to get more calories without the bulk.
So I’m making bone broth lattes now with coconut oil and ghee, adding avocado everywhere I can, and generally inserting more fat into every meal and snack I possibly can.
On the subject of snacks: Whole30 generally discourages them, but the rule is flexible if you’re pregnant and breastfeeding. For the purposes of a prenatal Whole30 and surviving this without starving myself, I’ve decided to think of those “more frequent smaller meals” as snacks. Examples of the snacks I’m mindfully including in my days now (with an angle towards getting in more fat):
- An apple with almond butter
- Bone broth latte with coconut oil or ghee
- Cucumbers or carrot sticks with Bitchin’ Sauce
- Half of an avocado with salt, pepper and lemon juice
In case you want to try the latte, here’s my go-to recipe right now.
Bone Broth Latte
- 8 oz. Rosemary & Lemon Chicken Bone Broth
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
Heat the broth and combine all ingredients in a tall jar. Use immersion blender to combine, then serve in your favorite mug.
A Whole30 While Sick Is Not For the Faint of Heart
If you thought a Whole30 was tough, try doing it while sick. You don’t have energy to shop or cook, and all you want are your comfort foods (chicken noodle soup, anyone?). You may be out of your element with the ingredients, meals and cooking techniques you have planned for your Whole30, so blazing this new trail while ill can feel like the last thing you want to do.
Add to that the fact that you may not be able to even taste the foods you are making, and you’ve got a real recipe for “why the heck am I even doing this?”
Especially if you’re sick in the first week of the Whole30, when you’re already stabby anyway (and in my case, experiencing severe hanger!), you can lose all motivation and desire to go through with it.
But if you should be eating nutrient-dense foods at any time, it’s while you’re sick.
And like I said: A commitment is a commitment.
Thankfully, Whole30 has some resources for helping you pull through this tough time.
Full disclosure: I did choose to keep honey in my diet for this first week, because it is one of the best expectorants money can buy, and I desperately needed that. Far better, in my opinion, than taking Nyquil or Dayquil, or Robitussin.
Even with honey lemon water still in rotation, my sugar dragon is raging, so I know I’m doing something right.
Making it Work, Against the Odds
Three things saved me during this time:
- Bone broth. Thankfully, we keep a LOT of it on hand in our household, for obvious reasons. Without it, I don’t know that I would have eaten for three days straight. My favorite is usually the Classic Turkey, but for whatever reason during this sickness, the Rosemary & Lemon and Tomato & Spice were my go-to’s. The Tomato & Spice is just so hearty and fragrant. It really feels like a legit meal in and of itself. (Sadly, we are currently sold out of the T&S, but it should be back in stock in a couple of weeks). This, plus hot lemon water, was breakfast on Day 1 for me.
- Instacart. I’m not normally the “hire someone else to do my shopping” type, because I actually enjoy going to the grocery store (and I’m a fanatic about Costco), but I would have felt like a JERK going out in public and infecting others with the plague. So for the first time in my life, I let Instacart do my shopping for me. I had recently learned that all Costco orders over $75 qualify for free delivery in our area of San Diego. Our weekly Costco bill for a household of 5 people is typically far north of that, so I figured why not? It was a great experience, and our driver and his kids even carried everything into the house for me.
- Not letting our derailed meal plan derail my intentions/commitment. It was a rough start, I won’t lie. But instead of getting hung up on the fact that I couldn’t make the frittata I had planned, I just whipped up a fried egg + kale + kraut + avocado for my first January Whole30 meal. Nothing glamorous, and the avocado was far from perfect (there were definitely brown spots), but it did the trick. We also didn’t have any non-dairy creamer for our coffee (our Thrive order was still en route), so black coffee it was those first few days. Not ideal, but also not the end of the world.
My takeaway from this – at nearly 28 weeks pregnant and 9+ days sick – is that I have no excuse not to fuel myself properly. Eating consciously and intentionally isn’t that much more work than eating junk, honestly. It’s just a little bit more mental effort than anything.
Getting Back On Track
So what’s my plan for Week 2?
- To give myself some grace. To not expect or demand of myself that every meal be planned out to a tee. Because stuff happens, as we learned our first week.
- But to be prepared for when stuff does happen. Our fridge is now packed with all manner of fruits, vegetables and Whole30 compliant foods/condiments, etc. that have no specific fate planned for them, but can be turned into a healthy, compliant meal at a moment’s notice.
- To prep and roast a ton of veggies all at once so they’re already ready to eat and snack on.
- To have “mini meals” – lots and lots of snacks – ready to go at all times
- And to keep this list of super easy Whole30 sheet pan dinners in my back pocket for nights when inspiration hasn’t struck.
That’s it. If you thought last week was simple, this week is taking it to another level.