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Tuesday, January 23, 2007A friend of mine is in the early stages of pregnancy right now and like many of us, finds those first few months wrought with debilitating nausea.
With my first, I has such severe nausea that I lost 15 pounds in the first three months. It wasn't until my sixth month of pregnancy that I finally began to gain weight. I threw up so often that I knew exactly which meals were the "best" both coming and going. (Note: Cheese curls liquify when they reach your stomach...do NOT eat an entire bag just because you crave them because it is more than a little unsettling to throw up florescent orange liquid.) I spoke with my OB about this problem many times and was simply told that it would pass and to try to keep down as much as I could.
Gee. Thanks Mr. MD, you went to school for how many years to learn that?
With my second pregnancy, I switched to midwife care. In my first phone conversation with my midwife (to setup an appointment) she asked how I was feeling. I mentioned the horrific day and night nausea and gave a brief bit of info on my first pregnancy.
"Protein," she replied.
"Huh?" I said.
She explained to me that pregnancy wreaks havoc on not only your hormones, but also on your appetite, which we all know. Since many moms will often feel a little nauseated and then start cutting back food, they start to experience highs and lows in their blood sugar. Anyone that has dealt with hypo or hyperglycemia knows that dramatic blood sugar swings can make you instantly nauseous.
Now, what do we do when we get nauseated? We eat simple carbohydrates, because they are bland. We avoid complex carbohydrates and foods rich in protein because they are "heavy." Unfortunately, simple carbohydrates are quickly turned into blood sugar in your system and cause dramatic spikes (and then drops) in your blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates, high fiber foods and proteins process more slowly and help keep blood sugar levels more stable which helps alleviate nausea.
My midwife's suggestion? 100 grams of protein a day.
It's daunting...finding and eating that much protein, especially if you have a pregnancy induced aversion to meat. I tried it though...reading labels, calculating what foods I could eat for the most protein packing punch, and taking small containers of high-protein drinkable yogurts to bed with me for a middle of the night protein boost.
You know...it works. At least it did for me and it's working right now for my friend. It's also worth nothing that there's speculation and some studies that imply that high protein diets can make Pre-E, HEELP syndrom and some other pregnacy problems less common.
I found that on the days I hit at least 80 grams of protein I had almost no nausea. On the days that I slacked off, I felt like dying.
So what are some high protein foods that make a good fit for this pregnancy diet?
Chicken or Turkey (about 40 grams in one cup)
Fish (30-35 grams per fillet for most types of fish)
Pork and Beef (25-27 grams per 3 oz serving)
Cottage Cheese (30 grams per cup)
Soybeans (28 grams per cup)
Couscous (22 grams per cup)
Baked beans (17 grams per cup)
Long grain white rice (13 grams per cup)
Lima Beans (12 grams per cup)
Yogurt (8-12 grams per cup)
Trail Mix (10 grams per half cup)
Cow's Milk (8 grams per cup)
There's obviously a ton of other stuff, but if you get creative, it's pretty easy to hit. I'd often have a hard boiled egg or a drinkable yogurt in the middle of the night. For breakfast I might have eggs, toast and fruit. Lunch? A PBJ sandwich on high protein bread, a glass of milk and some veggies. Dinner? Meat, a high protein veggie, and a complex carbohydrate.
I'd keep trail mix, granola, almonds, peanuts and such around as snacks. It was amazing to see that if some nausea started to creep up on me and I'd simply eat a handful of nuts or drink a glass of milk that things would seem to level back out. I did try those high protein "candy" bars a few times but found them almost impossible to eat. I suppose you could also mix protein powder into a fruit smoothie or something else as well, but I was aiming to get my protein from 'whole foods' whenever possible.
So I'm curious...did anyone else's doctor or midwife stress the 100 grams of protein a day to them? I seem to hear it a lot from women who used midwives but not so much from people who used OBs.