By Rachel Neifeld, RD, CDN
Up to 75% of women experience morning sickness during their pregnancy, and many of them worry that they may not be getting enough nutrition during times when keeping food down isn’t easy. It is especially important to continue taking a prenatal vitamin during these times since you’re probably not getting 100% of the recommended vitamins and minerals with the amount you’re eating. It’s also important to try to get the most nutrition and energy from the foods you do consume. Below is an example of a typical menu of a woman experiencing morning sickness, and then a “menu makeover,” providing a modified diet that will ensure the most “nutrition bang” for her buck.
Before “Menu Makeover”
6:30 a.m. Cinnamon raisin bagel with ½ Tbsp butter or cream cheese
8:00 a.m. One pack of instant oatmeal with water and a Luna Bar
11:00 a.m. Half of a can condensed soup and slice of deli pizza; apple
2 p.m. Small sleeve Ritz crackers; 5 pretzel rods or slice of toast
5 p.m. 1 cup pasta with a pat of butter
After “Menu Makeover”
Adding a liquid smoothie in between a couple of these small meals will help add important vitamins, mineral, calories, and protein without filling her up too much.
6:30 am: Cinnamon raisin bagel with sliced banana and almond or peanut butter.
- Tip: Instead of butter or cream cheese on the bagel, try topping it with almond butter or peanut butter and a sliced banana for a more nutrient-dense spread. The banana will provide healthy B vitamins for energy and the nut butter is also a great source of B vitamins as well as the mineral manganese which helps form bone and cartilage. For even more energy, before spreading, mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of the nut butter with a tablespoon of honey and ground flax seeds. This will provide an extra serving of healthy fats and boost the calorie content.
- If not in the mood for something sweet, try mixing together ½ an avocado with 2 tablespoons cream cheese to get a high calorie, savory spread filled with healthy fats and B vitamins.
8:00 am: Oatmeal made with whole milk, dried fruit, and nuts or nut butter + Luna bar. One cup of soy milk to drink.
- Tip: Dried fruit is a good way to get a lot of calories in a small serving. They also are a great source of the important nutrients vitamin C and potassium. Making the oatmeal with whole milk will add calcium, protein, and calories. Adding just 1 tablespoon of peanut butter will add about another 90 calories. Drinking soy milk instead of water is a good way to get calcium as well as extra calories.
10:00 am: 4-8 oz of Super Smoothie
- Recipe: 1 small banana peeled, 1 cup frozen berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries), 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, 1 scoop whey protein (optional extra-protein boost), 2 teaspoons lemon or orange juice
- Tip: A smoothie is a great way to pack a big nutrient punch. Besides adding calories to the diet, soy milk, ice cream, and whey will provide calcium and protein. The berries and citrus juice are a great way to get vitamin C and folate. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant during pregnancy that protects tissues from damage, helps the body absorb iron, as well as helps build a healthy immune system. Folate helps support the placenta and prevents spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
11:00 am: Half can soup with added-in red or white kidney beans and/or brown or white rice. Slice of deli pizza with cooked spinach added on top. Apple + slice of cheese or peanut butter
- Tip: Adding beans to the soup will help reach protein goals for the day as well as provide an extra dose of folate. If the beans upset your stomach, try adding just the rice (white or brown for extra B vitamins) which will add calories. The spinach will make the pizza more nutritious by adding iron and even more folate. The calorie content of the apple can be increased by adding a slice of cheese- this provides a source of calcium and protein. Nut butter could be substituted as well.
1:00 pm: Another 4-8 oz Super Smoothie (as above)
2:00 pm: Whole grain pretzel rods with Greek yogurt dip or a slice of whole wheat toast with cream cheese and jam.
- Tip: Try whole grain pretzels which taste almost the same as the regular variety but actually contain more protein and a little more B vitamins. Adding a homemade Greek yogurt dip makes this snack even more nutritious. The dip will add protein and calcium and is easy to digest.
- Add 1 tablespoon dry minced onion flakes, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 teaspoon dill weed, ½ teaspoon paprika and 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley to 1 six ounce container Greek yogurt.
- If it doesn’t upset your stomach, try whole wheat toast instead of white or wheat (the whole grains provide more B vitamins and healthy fats). Add cream cheese and jam to make it a little more calorie dense and get some calcium and protein from the cream cheese.
5:00 pm: Pasta with both butter + olive oil and grated cheese
- Tip: Butter will provide a good source of calories, but to add even more calories and nutrition try adding olive oil as well which is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. The cheese will add extra protein, calcium, and calories.