I often post photos on Instagram and tag them as “real food”, but I realize that this term can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people might say that all food is real food, but what I mean by this is that real food is food that is primarily unprocessed and does not include chemicals or additives. It’s very challenging to get these things 100% out of your diet, unless you make everything from scratch, but for the most part I make a concerted effort to remove these foods and choose others that are better alternatives.
A “real food” diet to me also means that I don’t restrict foods that I want/ crave. Sometimes I eat too much sugar or dessert type foods, and I know my body needs a break so I cut those foods out for a few days. But for the most part, if I want something, I have it. That being said, I always try to choose the best version of that food (if I can). So if I’m craving brownies, I’ll make them gluten free and from scratch with maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar (these are all still sweet and high in sugar content, however, they provide more vitamins and minerals than standard white sugar). Same goes for craving macaroni and cheese or pizza, I’ll never just order Dominos, I’ll get the real, good stuff (sometimes gluten free, sometimes not) and usually always have it with veggies or a salad. This doesn’t feel “forced” to me- I genuinely like having veggies with my meals. I feel fuller for a longer period of time and more satisfied.
For each person, their definition of what foods make them feel good might be different, but at this stage in my life (and at a stage where I feel I am generally eating a bit higher carb while pregnant), this is what works for me:
- All the veggies (organic is preferable!)- if you are not interested in veggies like I wasn’t during the first trimester, throw spinach into a smoothie!
- All the fruit (same as above)- with no restrictions on how many carbs are in a fruit. However, I generally try not to go above 2-3 fruits per day due to the sugar content
- Meat/ Eggs/ Seafood- focus on organic, pasture raised, grass-fed or wild. However, if I’m out I will still eat meat even if I’m not positive of its source
- High quality fats- this one is super important to me. I know how amazing fats are in our diets and I am conscientious about the types of fats I’m eating like good quality, saturated fat (which is so important for brain health!), butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts and seeds and avoiding foods with bad oils like canola or soy. I can’t help what oils are used in restaurants, but since I eat at home probably 90% of the time, I choose to relax with this.
- Organic Dairy- I have found that during pregnancy I really want dairy/ cheese so I’m having organic cottage cheese, grass-fed yogurt, organic cheddar cheese and organic sour cream- all full fat! When I’m not pregnant I choose raw dairy because it is easier to digest. Some people continue with raw dairy during their pregnancy which I don’t have a super strong opinion about, to each his own!
- Some grains- I eat organic white rice, gluten free oats and traditional sourdough bread (which is easier to digest for those with a gluten sensitivity)
- Other stuff- when cravings strike, I have gluten free pasta, dark chocolate, ice cream (usually from coconut milk but sometimes regular- like my favorite grass fed ice cream called Jeni’s!), pizza, etc. I know my body really well at this point, and I know that I can have these things occasionally without any bad effects. I also hope to teach my children one day that food doesn’t have to be so “black and white” and while we want to focus mostly on foods that make us feel good, there is nothing wrong with eating some sugar occasionally.
My diet during pregnancy is not a one size fits all, each person has to find what works for them! If I was having blood sugar issues, I would limit my carbs. If I was having trouble gaining weight, I would probably really focus on upping the calories/ fats in my diet (but as is, I’m gaining weight exactly where I’m supposed to be without focusing on this at all!). Each person is unique but by focusing on real food, I don’t think it’s as important to be so strict about what your macronutrient ratio looks like. It’s going to feel differently for each person!