Help! I don’t like oily fish or green vegetables
Lots of women have trouble adjusting their diet during pregnancy to make sure that they’re incorporating all the right nutrients for both themselves and the baby. Sometimes, all you want is a box of Quality Street in front of the television. But by making just a few small changes to what you’re eating, you’ll find that, actually, eating more healthily isn’t quite as tough as you might think, even if you aren’t keen on vegetables and oily fish.
Here, one pregnant lady reveals how she went from pizza most nights to preparing salads instead.
Chocolate you say? No thanks, I’m sticking with the tofu
I suppose I should have anticipated dietary problems during my pregnancy from the very start. I’ve always been a fussy eater; I left primary school never, ever having eaten a school meal. I insisted on packed lunches every day and from what I remember, I was pretty picky about what went into those too.
And even as an adult I’ve not paid too much attention to my diet, which I now realise was very bad.
I didn’t even think about nutrition for the first 12 weeks though, beyond trying to keep some food and water down. My morning sickness was horrendous and I considered it an achievement if I managed to eat a bowl of cereal.
Once I’d emerged from the fog of pregnancy nausea into my second trimester, I began to examine exactly what I actually ate every day. Having been so used to just pleasing myself, it came as shock to realise that from now on until I’d finished breastfeeding I would have to put the baby’s needs before my own.
I loved reading about my baby’s development and I was staggered that by week 22 he was already doing things as sophisticated as growing a thin layer of hair (called lanugo) to control his own body temperature. But even this led to anxiety – I had to be eating the right things to make sure that he could carry on developing in the best way possible. Every source I’d read stated that dieting during pregnancy was an absolute no-no and could result in poor nutrition purely by restricting sources of things like folic acid and iron – but wasn’t this effectively exactly what I’d been doing for the first few months after conception? Not through choice, obviously, but just through the wretched sickness. I decided immediately that I had to give my diet an overhaul.
The only slight problem was that the things I should be eating principally involved things like tuna, herrings, mackerel and sardines – and I really, really don’t like oily fish (as in, can’t actually put it in my mouth, much less swallow it). After some more worrying (good old pregnancy fears) I decided that there had to be alternative sources of the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that occurred naturally in oily fish. But it was the same with pulses – blurghhhh……..just the thought of them makes me shudder.
So I called my midwife and explained. I didn’t think it would go down very well, but actually, I was surprised. She told me that lots of women have trouble following the ideal pregnancy diet and I’d done well to identify this issue on my own and take proactive steps.
“So what alternatives are there?” I asked. “And before you say it, I can’t stand green, leafy vegetables either.”
Firstly, she told me not to worry, “There are lots of plant-based alternatives,” she said
Apparently, plenty of mothers are completely fish free and the easiest way to get those nutrients into your diet is through nuts and seeds, particularly green pumpkin seeds. And even if you’re not keen on them, you can sprinkle a handful over cereal or porridge and you’ll hardly know that they’re there.
Other options include using tofu to make stir fries or salads with and adding some vegetable oil; soybean, linseed and walnut oils are all excellent choices. And of course, you can eat walnuts on their own for the same effect.
She asked me what the rest of my diet was like. “Are you getting plenty of other good nutrition?” she said
“I think so,” I told her.
I was eating plenty of cereals with milk, plus yoghurts, fruit, cheese and fromage frais pretty much every day. It was just the fish and vegetable thing I couldn’t get past. I decided not to tell her that pizza also featured relatively regularly in my diet! But, I did always pick the vegetarian options and ones with extra cheese? How bad could it be?
Still, I was a little bit worried about incorporating these fairly sweeping changes into my food options, but I needn’t have been. I managed to pick up the extra bits I needed in my local supermarket and after a couple of weeks I barely noticed the changes.
And as for the pizza? Well, if you can’t indulge whilst your body is growing an actual person inside it, then when can you? I think that gives me a get out of jail free card there!