Nutrition in pregnancy – 1st trimester

The first trimester in pregnancy is classed as the time from the first day of your last period until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. Lots of women don’t even realise they are pregnant until about half way through their first trimester, however its an important time to focus on your nutrition as lots of important developmental changes are happening to your baby.

Many women (up to 90%) will experience some form of food aversion, nausea or vomiting during their pregnancy, this means that food you would usually eat and enjoy is off limits. Sickness in the first trimester is attributed to hormonal changes in the body and is generally a sign that the pregnancy is progressing as it should. Nausea is made worse when blood sugars dip so eating little and often may help.

Food aversion is a very primal symptom of pregnancy. The most common food aversion that women experience is to protein, which, from an evolutionary stand point makes perfect sense. It is thought that food aversion has evolved as a protective mechanism against toxins and other dangerous substances that could potentially harm a developing embryo. Back in the cavemen times, meats had the greatest chance of harbouring bacteria and parasites and therefore posed the largest risk. Another popular food aversion is to vegetables, once again, these nutritionally dense, awesome foods would have had the potential for contamination with bacteria like salmonella and e.coli.

If you’re used to or trying to follow a paleo diet then you may be concerned about your sudden aversion to your main food groups, your baby will draw upon your stores and take what it needs so all you have to worry about is getting some good quality food inside you no matter what the source. During pregnancy you need around 200-300 more calories per day (in other words, not many) and since our bodies are very clever we actually produce hormones which make it easier to acquire and store nutrients from foods when pregnant.

From my experience I have found that most women crave bland carbohydrates during their first trimester, when following a paleo regime you may not feel like reaching for the crackers and toast so here are some paleo friendly options you could grab instead, alongside a serving of healthy fats.

White rice
Sweet potato
Butternut squash
White potatoes ( boiled and cooled so as not to spike blood sugar and cause nausea)

Other foods you could eat during your first trimester include –

Ginger (has been shown to help with nausea and vomiting)

Smoothies with lots of berries/greens and some coconut milk

Bone broth and soups (super nourishing and easy on the stomach)

Paleo granola (recipe here)

Pregnancy is not a time to be focusing on “low carb” diets, focus on eating as much of a variety as you can by eating lots of different coloured fruits and veg and as much real food as you can tolerate. Its also important to remember that most of the sickness attributed to early pregnancy will dissipate once you’re in the 2nd trimester and you’ll then be able to get back to eating all those paleo foods you enjoyed previously.

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