3 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) with Food in Your First Trimester

So I have some news.

I’ve kind of been keeping it from you.

I have good reason.

It’s pretty personal.

And I know it’s not like I’m a huge, internet celebrity, but I still wanted to keep this one to myself.

But I’ve learned so much about myself and food through this process, that I really want to share it with you.

So here it goes:

I’m having a baby.

Yep. It’s true. And now I wanted to share my Pregnancy Food Experience with you. Because Pregnancy is a life stage that many of us go through…and sometimes it’s not as glamorous as you think it’s going to be. It can be hard to feel your body changing out of control. It can be nearly impossible to stick with your Paleo diet…so I wanted to share my food story, and give you some of the tips that I used on myself and that I’ve used with pregnant nutrition counseling clients.

My First Trimester Pregnancy Food Experience

first trimester
For the past few years, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about eating during and before pregnancy. I devoured blog posts, books and articles about how to follow a Paleo/Traditional Real Food diet for fertility and during pregnancy– what foods to eat, what nutrients to emphasize– and I was able to implement a lot, but a lot (okay, most) of it flew out the window the second I hit 7 weeks.

Six months before we conceived I was feeling pretty crappy. I got sick two or three times over the course of three months. Sick like really sick– not just head-cold sick. I’m talking fever-of-103-maybe-should-have-gone-to-the-ER sick. After all of that sickness, I starting working with my acupuncturist to fix some pretty obvious imbalances in my body.

My adrenals and my liver were all over the place. I was so depleted that it was nearly impossible to keep my immune system working properly. I had gone through some big family stress during the beginning of the year that left me drinking literally 9 cups of coffee a day…which really wrecked me (read more about that here).

Once I came to terms with how badly I was feeling and what I would need to do to feel better (stop drinking coffee and wine…which was surprisingly hard for me in the beginning), I did my own Nutritional Reset Paleo Whole Food Cleanse, and supplemented with herbs from my acupuncturist. After about three weeks my energy levels were up and I was feeling exponentially better.

I continued my Nutritional Reset for the next two months. It ended up essentially being my preconception diet. Eating lots of nutrient dense whole foods and healthy fats, and taking really good care of myself. I felt healthier and more energetic than I had in a LONG time. And I was in such a good groove eating whole foods that I had completely switched to decaf coffee and only had about two glasses of wine per week (as opposed to two every night).

Things were going REALLY well food-wise…until I was about 7 weeks pregnant.

That’s when I started really feeling pregnant… Honestly, at first I was relieved: I was finally feeling shitty! That means it’s real! But soon after that initial relief, I just felt shitty. SO tired. Bone tired. Tiredness that would only be relieved by lying down in bed. SO nauseous. I was lucky enough not to throw up during my first trimester, but I did feel like I was hungover ALL the damn time.

Feeling hungover all the time made it pretty hard to eat some of the foods that I had been eating…like vegetables. And meat. And pretty much everything that wasn’t toast, cereal or gluten-free bagels.

(FYI All of the pictures in this post are from particularly “good” meals I ate during that time…meals that I felt good enough to post on instagram. There were definitely days when I ate NO vegetables or fruit…or living foods at all.)

For real. I only ate gluten-free cereal with unsweetened almond milk, gluten-free toast with butter and apricot jam and gluten-free bagels with cream cheese. Well, most of the time everything was gluten-free…but sometimes it was gluten-full.

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I also found myself eating in my car pretty much every day. I couldn’t make it from one place to another without having a snack in the car. I literally had to have some kind of carby food on me at all times…or else.


For a few days I felt really bad about my diet.

I had been eating so well and now I was eating like…not so well. I felt like I was depriving my baby of nutrients…like I was already a bad mom. But the truth is that during the first trimester, the baby’s nutritional needs are really tiny. AND if you’ve been eating a healthy diet leading up to pregnancy, you should be pretty much set in the nutrient department as your body creates nutrient stores to draw on in times of need…like when you can only eat bagels.

SO after realizing that, I starting think of my cravings and aversions differently. Well, not so differently than I usually think of them (I always think of cravings as your body’s way of asking for something), but with less pressure on myself.

I always tell my pregnant clients to take this time to really listen to their bodies. It’s a time when your inner body cues are REALLY clear. I knew exactly what I wanted to eat and EXACTLY what I didn’t want to eat. So I started using it as a chance to tune into my body and give it what it wanted.

When I “gave in” and listened to my body, the stress of eating melted away. I started looking at eating like a game where I had to figure out exactly what I wanted to eat. Eventually, I starting craving healthy foods again (around 13 weeks). Eggs, chicken and steak came first, and then, finally, vegetables. I’m pretty sure that continuously listening to my body is what got me back to eating the foods I’d been eating before I started feeling so nauseous. I kept listening through the “weird bagel times” and found that I truly wanted to eat whole foods again.

Personally, I think that pregnancy is a time to stop fighting your body when it comes to food. To start really listening to your body and giving it what it wants– even if it wants cereal and toast. Of course, I recommend trying to eat healthy foods ( I was able to eat fruits and scrambled eggs through most of this time), but also giving your body what it wants and NOT feeling bad or guilty about eating those “unusual” foods.

Here are my tips for surviving and thriving with food during your first trimester: 

Be Prepared

How you eat before you conceive is incredibly important. Eating a nutrient dense, whole food diet before pregnancy has been shown to make your first trimester (and entire pregnancy) easier. I’m convinced that I didn’t have true morning sickness (just nausea) because I was so well nourished before we conceived.

My favorite resource for a healthy pregnancy is Kristen Michaelis’ Beautiful Babies.

In this book, Kristen (also known as The Food Renegade) dispels many common pregnancy myths and gives some great guidelines for eating a whole food diet– even some tips for totally preventing morning sickness and nausea in the first place! It was my go-to book before I got pregnant for tips and advice.

Be Attentive

Keep listening to your body no matter what. Pregnancy is the perfect time to start really hearing those inner body cues of hunger, satisfaction and to deconstruct your cravings. Listen to your body through the tough times, and you’ll find yourself truly nourishing yourself and your baby when you start to actually want healthier foods again.

Listening to your body will also keep you on track with pregnancy weight gain. When you’re listening to your inner body cues, you’ll be more likely to stop eating when you’re full– especially when it comes to eating sweet treats like ice cream and cookies. Personally, I found that my satisfaction cue has been the strongest throughout my whole pregnancy thus far: I know exactly when to stop eating and if I force myself to take that last bite, I start to feel sick. So even if you’re craving sweets, keep listening to your body so that you know when you’ve really had enough.

Be Forgiving

There are lots of internet peoples that have pretty harsh views about eating during pregnancy. Plenty of moms have stuck with their Paleo diets throughout the whole first trimester and lots of them tout this as the only way to eat during pregnancy. I say that everyone is different. Everyone’s pregnancy experience is different.

You absolutely have to listen to your body, because only you know what works for you. Don’t pay attention to that mom that shames bagel eating…if you have to eat a bagel, eat the damn bagel. Now is not a time to fight your cravings. It’s a time to embrace your cravings and your body and give it what it truly wants and needs. As long as your continuously listening to you’re body, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to be making healthy choices for yourself.

That’s my story and my tips.

If you want to hear more, or chat about your own pregnancy OR your thinking of trying to get pregnant and you want some nutrition guidance, sign up for a free, 30 minute Nutrition Discovery Session with me.

Sign up Now!

I have to warn you, these sessions are going fast…on account of the fact that I’ll be taking some time off pretty soon…so sign up today!

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2 Responses to 3 Tips for Surviving (and Thriving) with Food in Your First Trimester

  1. reneekohley January 10, 2016 at 7:22 PM #

    Congratulations Allison <3 Very exciting! 1st tris were just the worst for me no matter how much I tried – I was a big time puker despite my super clean diet 😉 I'm glad you mentioned just eat what sounds good – what gets you through your day 😉 It definitely gets better – enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

Thoughts? Feel free to comment below!

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