Ask just about any pregnant or formerly pregnant lady out there. Pregnancy can be a weight gaining nightmare. You get these unusually strong urges to eat things, and maybe things you would not normally eat. The nearly constant exhausted feelings. The feeling of being hot that often leads to cold drinks or treats. And maybe like me, you naively thought, at the end of your 9-month journey, you would be leaving the hospital in cute little pre-pregnancy clothes. Only to get the upsetting reality you, in fact, had excessive pregnancy weight gain, and your pre-pregnancy clothes look like Barbie doll clothes compared to you now.
I know, I have been there. A few times, actually. Babies 1 & 3 were born big after 9 months of my bad eating, one was my first (so that’s my excuse). The other was a third trimester in the hottest summer on planet earth (not exaggerating it was blazing hot that year), and frequent trips to Starbucks for frozen drinks, well maybe those were excessive but at the time I thought I needed it. Babies 2 & 4 were my healthier pregnancies. I stayed a lot more active, had smaller babies, better energy, recovered faster, and returned to pre-pregnancy weight faster.
Now being pregnant with my 5th baby, I have learned a thing or two about how my body deals with pregnancy. I also know it is a whole lot easier to gain less than to lose a whole bunch of weight. I have gradually over time learned more and more healthy habits. I started out as a young mom with already having my first child as a personal trainer, however that knowledge did not include eating raw, healthy, fermented or cultured foods. My knowledge extended to proteins to carbs ratio and exercise and fitness knowledge. However, I have learned when I combine all the valuable health, wellness, and fitness knowledge I get much better results. So with this, I have formulated an awesome plan to avoid excessive pregnancy weight gain, which in turn leaves a pregnant mama with more energy (and we all know that make it more likely to actually workout).
I assume I am like most pregnant women and gain the “extra weight” due to cravings. I believe we have craving because our bodies are looking for something, extra nutrients. So my plan is to regularly give my body those nutrients ahead of time and hopefully I won’t cave into the habit of having “some baked potato with my sour cream” (that is the way the hubs explained my cravings for dairy with baby 2). My cravings have always fallen into 3 categories dairy (a lot of it), meat and feeling hungry enough to eat the whole right half side of the menu. So I am assuming that all means my body is looking for nutrients, calcium, magnesium, folate, amino acids, protein you know all the normal stuff. As it is no surprise our food often runs short in many of those areas. So absolutely taking a quality prenatal is a must, but then what?
Bone broth is really an amazing food and has been used in healing issues for an eternity. This is the key ingredient that led to the understanding chicken soup for making us feel better when we are sick. Bone broth should be from grass-fed, pasture raised animals that is very important. We won’t get the nutrients if they did not get the nutrients. You may be asking yourself how will bone broth keep you from gaining weight it is a high-fat food? This is true the fat content in bone broth is higher than say chicken broth from a can. However the nutrients are extremely high in bone broth, amino acids, which are very important for everything but also very important in keeping a toned and trim physique. Bone broth is one of the best sources on earth for amino acids that keep our metabolism firing on all cylinders.
Many of our foods even veggies have been heated or processed in a way that many of the nutrients have been taken away or at very minimal seriously reduced. That leaves our bodies looking and craving more which often just leads to eating more but not necessarily finding those key nutrients. Raw foods, often have to be home-made so that we don’t lose the nutrients, which is slightly more time-consuming but in the end, our waist lines will thank us.
Lemons are an extremely good for you, even superfood (I’d say). They are by far one of my favorite health food items to keep on hand. They are even better if you can consume the whole lemon, the rind is packed with nutrients.
I adapted this recipe while back, from a Brazilian recipe. I came up with this out of a desire to be able to use the whole lemon for all the added nutrients in the rind as well as waste less and need fewer lemons in general. The cool thing about this recipe you can tweak it and use limes or add other fruit such as strawberries, blackberries, peach or any other fruit you may like with lemonade. The kids love strawberry lemonade, just add whole strawberries in the blender and mix it all in together. The craving crushing, pregnancy-friendly lemonade recipe really helps me to desire less dairy and with that a whole lot less weight gain, win/ win.
Raw almond milk
Much of our milk, both nut milk and dairy have been heated and lose many of the vital nutrients, leaving us lacking. Now we do have raw goats milk here on the homestead. However, we consume both raw almond milk as well as goats milk. For those who do not have access to raw dairy, or a milk cow or goat as part of the family, then what?
Making your own almond milk is actually really simple, all that is needed is raw almonds, dates, filtered water and a blender. Soak about 1 cup of almonds overnight. Then the next morning add 6 cups of water the soaked almonds, 4-5 dates blend that on a purée setting, strain through cheesecloth and voilà. Raw almond milk. Almonds are high in magnesium, which helps with that pesky restless leg syndrome, so many get during pregnancy. Plus the dates are known to help aid the labor process (easier & faster labor process) score! Any way you cut it, switching to raw almond milk is a win (heck you can even do this with other nuts!)
Fermented foods are kind of my new most favorite health food item. We have been in the process of learning the art of fermenting different veggies. Fermented foods are packed full of pre and probiotics, which greatly increase the strength of our immune system and overall health. Many fermented veggies you can find to buy are considered raw, meaning they were not heated to a point where nutrients get killed off. This is not the same with many canned veggie options. There are many forms of fermented or cultured foods Kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies, sourdough, in fact, I like to pin many of these different raw foods to a healthy foods board on Pinterest! There is also some amazing website based solely for this here are a few of my favorites here and here.
I have been testing myself and I have realized if I eat fermented foods or veggies before the rest of a meal I generally do not feel nearly as hungry. Getting the nutrients my body is looking for is leaving it so it craves less overall.
Ok, so what do you do if you are not a make your own fermented foods kinda lady? Don’t worry there are always other options, I have found many great tasting and wonderfully healthy raw fermented veggies here, and believe it or not but my kids will eat this stuff like crazy!
A thing of the past
So having a huge amount of pregnancy weight gain can be a thing of the past. Yes, staying active helps, a lot! However, eating healthier helps a ton too. I think to myself how much healthier a glass of home-made raw almond milk or whole lemon lemonade is over the frozen Venti Carmel Macchiato (that I seriously had tons of).
As I sit here the majority of the way through pregnancy #5 and I can honestly say to this point I have had the least amount of weight gained in any pregnancy. I have more energy (which is good the other 4 kiddo’s take a lot of energy!) I know I am not done, but unless I plan on gaining a ton, and by that I mean a lot. I am set to have the healthiest pregnancy thus far, and I am 10 years older than when I started having babies. So the proof is in the choices we make towards health not in our age at all.
If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away 9 months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. -Erma Bombeck
During pregnancy, maybe one of the most important times in our lives that we should strive to be as healthy as possible. Pregnancy has a tendency to lead us to extra foods. Those extra foods can be the empty calories of ice cream, pickles (or fill-in-the-blank junk food). Or those extra foods can be nutrient dense, power-packed foods that our baby-growing bodies are desiring. If we feed the need, we skip the cravings, skip the craving, we avoid all the excessive pregnancy weight gain that can plague us during pregnancy. It’s just that simple my friends when we give our bodies what they need to do the work it has to do, we feel better and gain less unnecessary weight ♡♡♡
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Beth is a mother of 5 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.