27 February 2010

what I eat while pregnant

I have celiac disease, I live in Africa, and now on top of that I'm navigating the world of eating for two. The gluten-free part is easy. The lack of variety here is my big challenge. I haven't really had cravings, but I've had some very strong aversions, which makes the lack of variety even more challenging. Like every expectant woman I want to make sure the baby and I are getting enough of everything that we need.

A friend here gave me her copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and I immediately turned to it for dietary guidelines. Most of the foods on the list are either unavailable here or inedible for me, which didn't surprise me. What surprised me was the gigantic amount of food that they want you to eat in one day! I'm working hard to gain the weight I need to with the proper nutrition, but I can't get anywhere near the daily calorie recommendation. (My husband looked at it too and was amazed. He doesn't even eat that much, and he's a fit, athletic guy who consumes mass quantities.)

I have a gluten-free prenatal vitamin. I'm eating a lot of quinoa and quinoa pasta, which has protein and folic acid. I'm also eating a lot of rice and beans, another good source of protein and folic acid. I try to get one serving of meat per day, but sometimes meat is my greatest aversion. I started making my own yogurt and I found a nonfat powdered milk that I can tolerate, so I'm getting plenty of calcium and my healthy yogurt bacteria. Every morning I start my day with a tropical fruit smoothie. (Sometimes on the weekends I make a banana-chocolate milkshake instead for a treat -- with my yogurt and nonfat milk of course.) I can get broccoli, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers here for my veggie intake. The baby craves carbs more than anything so I'm baking my own bread and eating cereal like mad. And my ultimate comfort food is Annie's gluten-free macaroni and cheese.

Besides the nonfat milk, I also drink a ton of water. Most of the other beverage choices here are too sugary for me and even before the pregnancy I drank them sparingly. I occasionally have caffeine-free coffee or tea. I gave up caffeine and alcohol as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and within two weeks my blood pressure plummeted from borderline too high to the low end of normal.

I know my efforts are paying off with every visit to my local nurse, who checks my blood pressure and does a urinalysis every other week. Without adequate medical care here (for anything more in-depth I have to go to Nairobi, South Africa, or even Europe or the States), my diet has to be my primary source of health maintenance. As you can see, I'm eating good stuff, but I am dreaming of the day several months from now when I will be back in the United States and can walk into any grocery store to face a huge variety of food.


FitFunk said...

Wow, that's a challenge. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, do I EVER remember the food aversions while pregnant. And not just food aversions!!

I remember being pregnant with my now sixteen-year-old and walking down the aisle at a grocery store, looking for a toothpaste whose taste/smell/texture wouldn't make me VOMIT. Don't know what it was about toothpaste while pregnant, but....

I literally had to open boxes right there in the store and sniff the toothpaste tubes to find one! And it ended up that I couldn't even find a mint one (my usual favorite)... I ended up having to use a kids' strawberry toothpaste for a few months. How wild is that!?

And I totally understand about the meat thing. I couldn't even SMELL meat COOKING without getting nauseated. (I ate meat back then, it just smelled awful to me while cooking.)

You have my sympathies for your lack of choice!

Stephanie said...

Im almost 13 weeks pregnant too! Going through some similar aversions! Yet, the funniest thing to me in your post was that you said you can't get enough Annie GF mac and cheese. I swear it has been on my menu every day since week 5. haha. I am just getting over the sickness now and I am able to eat more greens and veggies again, which I am very thankful. Before I could barely tolerate it. Anyways, good luck to you in your pregnancy, and how many week are you, are you going to birth in the BUJ? Much love, Stephanie

Stephanie said...

Congratulations, other gluten-free Stephanie! :) I'm in my 21st week now. I'm glad you're starting to feel better. I am too, this trimester. I'm eating more variety and gaining weight slowly but surely. However, I received a case of Annie's in the mail today, so that's definitely on my dinner table tonight! We'll be home in the U.S. for the birth this summer. And then we move to India this fall!
Best, Stephanie

apple said...

Congratulations for surviving that kind of challenge. Your post is very interesting, a lot of mother might have some idea if this things will happen to them. They can learn from your example.

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