A friend of mine, now well into her second pregnancy, was recently complaining to me about her inability to eat regular meals because of her constant indigestion and nausea. Medically, her doctor said she was perfectly fine and that the nausea was just a normal symptom as long as she could eat her usual three meals per day. However, she was unsatisfied with the diagnosis because though she technically could eat regularly, it was far from enjoyable. Sometimes, indigestion after a meal was downright uncomfortable. I looked into her problem and found a solution that most doctors probably don’t think to recommend. Nutrition is obviously a very important part of a healthy pregnancy, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to eat three solid meals per day to get the nutrients your body craves. If you’re having trouble eating full meals, talk to your doctor about a new plan that includes more frequent, smaller meals.

Studies show that opting for a diet that consists of smaller meals throughout the day during your pregnancy is perfectly safe and a great way to combat nausea. Especially in your third trimester, you’ll notice that you have a lot less room in your stomach for big meals. If you eat as you did before your pregnancy, you’ll find yourself getting full a lot faster because your baby is pushing against your stomach. To consume the appropriate amount of nutrients while also compensating for your smaller tummy, eat frequent, small meals. Six small meals throughout the day is a safe and healthy alternative to the normal three-meal-per-day diet that most pregnant women naturally adopt. In fact, it will also help you control your weight better by keeping your metabolism going through the day. You should also try healthy snacks whenever you feel hungry so that your digestive patterns are more regular.

By eating small and healthy meals frequently throughout the day, you can help your body combat feelings of indigestion, nausea, heartburn and even food aversions. Large meals are fine when your digestive system is working normally, but pregnancy will offset the delicate balance and all foods will be harder to digest. Many women think that they have to stick to the usual three-meal diet accepted by society, but switching it up might make your pregnancy much more bearable by keeping you from getting nauseous every time you finish an enormous meal.

Source: Jennifer Niebyl: Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy. The New England Journal of Medicine Volume 363 pp. 1544-1550 October 2010

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