Pregnancy Eats, The Third Trimester
I ended my second trimester pregnancy eats post by saying that I predicted my next food post on the third trimester would be quite similar. And while that’s been true in terms of food choice, things are a quite different in other ways, mainly my surprisingly poor appetite. I’ve had to figure out crafty ways how to get in those extra calories, which is something I didn’t predict I would struggle with. Forcing myself to eat? Yeah, that was never a problem in the past, as someone who could dream about food and cooking all day.
This post will be less about why I chose certain foods, like salmon, eggs and smoothies, as that was covered in my second trimester pregnancy eats post. What I will be talking about is how I managed to eat in spite of a reduced appetite and overall interest in food, and which foods I favoured.
As I progressed into my third trimester and our baby took over my abdomen, eating large serves became difficult. A growing belly means less room for food and breathing and other important things. And because my strategy for getting in extra calories during the second trimester was to increase my serves at dinner, I had to think differently. This meant more snacks and even higher calorie, nutrient-dense food choices, as my kilojoule requirement crept up to an extra 2,000 per day and my appetite during the day was pretty non-existent.
The only foods that got me truly excited were oranges, croissants and pasta. And while that's all well and good, I felt it was prudent to ensure I ate a wider variety of foods ;) Here’s what a typical day looked like, along with other things I liked for meals and snacks.
For breakfast I would usually have porridge made in my usual style, with full cream milk and chia seeds, topped with nuts and seeds and maybe something else too. Ordinarily a bowl of porridge gets me suspiciously excited, I mean, it's just oats...but sadly I haven't been loving my porridge like I used to. My bowls have been full of usually yummy things like nuts and seeds and fruit and even cream! But they haven't been rocking my world. And they've been daintier bowls too, a far cry from my heaping second trimester serves.
In fact, most breakfast foods haven't appealed at all, which is an issue I've never faced before. Unless we're talking croissants, but I'll get to that. Sometimes a bit of toast would sound alright and I'd look for my usual nutritious toppings nutritious toppings full of good fats and protein, such as avocado and fried eggs. The occasional smoothie bowl has happened, made banana, milk, nut butter and oats and topped with coconut oil and seeds. I quite enjoy these bowls, but it’s usually too chilly for them.
On the weekend you'll like find me shoving my face into a croissant. This is one food that brings me a lot of joy. I've long loved croissants, but these days my affection has reached new heights. Warmed in the oven, with rough portions dipped into my weak latte or meeting a spot of jam...ahhh it's bliss. I find it very easy to get a bunch of calories in via pastries, which makes me happy. Though they're not the most balanced meal, lacking in protein and fibre and other important things, so I try to limit my croissant habit to once a week. You know, so my baby didn’t come out of my womb looking like a croissant or refusing to eat breakfast unless there is a crescent-shaped pastry on his/her plate. When I was younger I had a dream I would raise French-speaking babies but alas, I never learnt the language beyond a summer course in 2004. Perhaps this is my final attempt at that dream. Either way I'm really into it.
I've continued to make sure I’m eating a lot of vegetables at lunch, adding something green and something carbelicious like sweet potato or perhaps quinoa, wholegrain crackers or sourdough to my plate. Legumes have been great too, whether whole beans or a keen dollop of hummus. I’ve also been making sure to get at least 3 serves of salmon a week, favouring fresh fillets for flavour, but canned (wild-caught, where possible) for convenience. The photograph above is common meal, with boiled black beans, steamed sweet potato, spinach, salmon, avocado, red onion, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. As is the one at the top of the post, full of veg with some cheddar cheese and hummus, as well as my beloved Dr Kargs crackers.
And this one, with sweet potato, spinach, capsicum, corn, hummus, salmon & pinenuts. All colourful and healthy and delicious, but never really getting me super excited. I'm hoping my appetite comes back when I start breastfeeding but for now, I'm eating food largely based on nourishment rather than enjoyment.
This trimester I’ve gone from one afternoon snack to two, to compensate for the smaller meal serves and increased need for calories.
My snack plates tend to be an assembly of cheddar cheese (cut super thick and on wholegrain crackers with butter if I’m low on calories), apple, dried fruit (dates or unsulphured apricots) and some sort of vegetable.
Other snacks are smoothies, made with frozen banana, milk nut butter and chia seeds, maybe medjool dates too if I'm feeling fancy. Or it might be yoghurt with nuts and seeds but I've gone off that this trimester (or at least the weeks I had a chest infection). Sourdough toast with nut butter, cheese or avocado has happened on occasion and sometimes I'll add a handful of sea salt potato chips to whatever I'm eating. Plain, lightly salted crisps are my go-to evening grab on the days I really need to get my calories up and I’m tired. Side note: buttered rolls with salt and vinegar potato chips were the BOMB in high school. I must do that again...
I keep nuts and dried fruit in my bag at all times, in case I need a snack while I’m out or driving. These days I’m really grateful for bars like Raw Bite or Emma and Tom's, which are made with dates (or other dried fruit), nuts, cacao, coconut and/or other delicious, nourishing, whole-food ingredients. Making your own is great, but having a few pre-packaged bars in my bag is a must for when you get caught up in the library or when you forget how much longer it takes you to do a simple grocery shop.
And smoothies, of course. Smoothies have been a real life saver, being such a fantastic, easy way to get in a dose of protein, calcium, B vitamins and hydration. I throw some sort of frozen fruit (usually banana) into a blender with full-cream milk, natural yoghurt, chia seeds and a medjool date. If I have a bit more of an appetite I'll add some nut butter, oats and/or cacao powder to the mix. Done!
In the evening I try to engage in my potato and pasta habit. Otherwise it’s rice or….no, that’s pretty much been it: potatoes and pasta, sometimes rice or sourdough bread. I serve these carby foods with red meat at least 3 times a week or maybe some salmon if I’m splurging ($$$). Canned salmon is so easy and canned meat is not really a thing (thank goodness), so I tend to save fresh salmon for a splurge and get small cuts of eye fillet, porterhouse or minced beef. I have been loving my red meat. When we go out I always try to order something delicious and rich that I wouldn’t make at home because these days I can’t be bothered - slow-cooked beef cheek or lamb shoulder come to mind.
I’m not mad on chicken, however minced chicken has been delicious in Ben’s stirfries. On his stifry nights I take my roll of prep chef terribly seriously. I assemble all the vegetables in individual bowls (usually while watching old Downton Abbey episodes) and put the rice cooker on so that everything is ready for him for when he gets home at 7:30. He de-stresses from work by woking it out and I get a tasty meal without having to cook. It's a win, win situation.
After dinner bite
This is usually an orange or apple, maybe some cheese and dried fruit or nut butter from the jar. Some nights it’s a glass of orange juice because I can’t get enough! Nudie is my go-to brand. I find having a snack right before bed is important to help me avoid waking up feeling super hungry and nauseated. From about week 36 onwards I've needed to make sure I have some fruit (fresh and dried) by my bed for middle-of-the-night snacking. I find that low blood sugar levels can make me wake up in the night more easily and pregnant ladies do not need another reason to be waking up. Having to pee, drink water, manage leg cramps and restless legs, and move your belly to a comfortable position are enough, thank you!
Fluids have taken the form of water (a mix of cold and hot water based on my craving), as well as orange juice (maybe a glass every day or so) and the occasional Nudie soda (a recent find), green tea or smoothie. Towards the end of this trimester I've loved the occasional fruit soda, whether a mocktail at a restaurant, making my own at home or the Nudie kind I just mentioned. It feels special and makes me miss wine and Campari less. Sort of.
This trimester I also took to drinking a cup of raspberry leaf tea every day (aiming for twice a day) and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this fruity cup. Usually I am someone who steers clear of fruit teas like the plague. Raspberry leaf tea is supposed to prime and tone the uterus for birth, and many people down multiple cups in the weeks leading up to birth. I jumped on the bandwagon because it’s cold outside, I like tea and I thought it couldn’t hurt. And to my surprise, it smells like unset jelly. You know when you mix the crystals with hot water and stir, that aroma? That’s what the Clippers Organic brand (from IGA) smells and sort of tastes like. But I don’t mind it! Plus it kind of stains my lips and acts as an easy beauty product. And Ben likes the way it makes me smell.
Though lately I've eased up off of the tea. Some reports I've found have said it's not great for breech babies (though I don't know how true this is), and because at 36 weeks bubs is still breech I've felt it instinctive to put the cup down. I've had a chest infection and ANY tea has not been appealing, so that surely contributes to my feelings, but it's also just felt right to step away from the tea at the moment.
A final note on calories
Trying to eat enough when your appetite is poor is hard. Boo hoo, right? But for real, this late in pregnancy your organs are smushed into weird places and you just don't feel like eating much. It can really feel like a battle. I found favouring high calorie foods like nuts, butter, avocado, oils, cheese, milk and the occasional pastry does the trick. They slide into meals easily and don't make you feel too full.
When it comes to adding in extra calories around dinner (particularly if it’s been a lighter day of eating) you'll find me munching on cheese and wholegrain biscuits or a couple of handfuls of crisps while I cook. Crisps not what I would usually classify as a health food, but I’ve been indulging in a few handfuls more regularly than usual because they’re just so darn calorie dense and they don’t fill me up! Qualities you might usually find unattractive in a food... Also, I go for plain salted crisps that are made only of potato, oil and salt. If it's not one of those two things, you’ll find me melting butter and adding that to vegetables or hitting the jar of nut butter with a spoon after dinner.
I am finding that I need to watch my calories and on most days I need to make sure I'm having enough. Some days I don't struggle, like when I'm having a rare "hungry day" or when mum brings around cake. Or if we eat pies or doughnuts from Johnny Ripe or visit Grill'd for dinner. But on most days this is something I need to watch, because I am not eating a lot of pre-packaged, fried or dessert-type foods and my appetite in general is rather poor.
Following your intuition is something I sincerely advocate when it comes to your appetite and food choice. However this last trimester has proved that this isn't always the best or easiest thing to do, and sometimes you need to be smart and unromantic when it comes to food choices.
So there you go, folks! This trimester hasn't been too dissimilar from the second, however there's a few more issues that have cropped up making it less breezy. And that's common for the third trimester. Your goal should be nourishment so that your baby grows well and you feel good and stay healthy for the birth, but it should also be about treating yourself in the final months and weeks before you will invariably start putting yourself second. For me this meant buying myself the fancy dates, treating myself to a good steak and quality raw chocolate more regularly than before, and devouring croissants on the weekend. Treat yo self to the max.