Pregnancy and nutrition

Because my fingers turned to sausages a few days ago, I have decided to stop stuffing my face with the excuse that I am pregnant and should be eating more.

More is one thing; eating a whole cake that didn't turn out pretty enough to take to a Christmas party (while listening to Charlie brown's christmas songs) just means you have no manners and are a pig.

Coincidentally, fingers were sausages on the same day I had my first of a series of Charlie horses in the middle of the night. I almost shoved my startled husband off the bed when I screamed, "What the hell is this? Do something! Grab my foot!" The poor guy was in the middle of his REM sleep cycle and didn't know where he was, so he obeyed and grabbed my foot. What I meant to say was, stretch my calves, but I was also half asleep.

I am not the kind of person that gets sausage fingers and Charlie horses. Being that I am a personal trainer and nutritionist (please don't tell anyone about the cake) I am usually the person who tells people how to avoid them.

Pregnant or not, if you are having these symptoms, something is working harder than it should your body. You are eating too much of something, or not consuming enough of something else.

With that in mind I tackled my problem and my little fingers are back to their normal skinny selves.

I wanted to share with other moms to be that your nutrition and lifestyle habits can make pregnancy symptoms worst and how to avoid them.

If you are not expecting, and/or are a guy, some of those tips may help some of your eating issues too, so keep on reading.


Any weight gain that happens suddenly (two to three pounds in a few days) is usually water retention. It is very unlikely that you could have consumed these many calories in a few days and no baby grows that fast.

While pregnant, our out of control estrogen and insulin will cause us to retain water, especially those with gestational diabetes, so first and foremost, your best bet is to put that water and excess sugar to use with exercise.

Clients are often asking me what is the best remedy for a functioning circulatory system and excess sugar, and I always say that there is no better medicine than to get moving.

I am aware that exercising is hard while expecting, but you don't need to do much to see the bloating subside. An one hour walk (even divided in 15 minute increments) will get you there.

Nutritionally speaking, excess sodium will affect you even more now that you are pregnant.

Minerals and other nutrients are already dilluted in the much larger amount of blood you now carry, so the chemistry of your body is most likely off. Excess sodium will make it worse.

Women are usually deficient in potassium even before pregnancy. Potassium and sodium don't really get along. When one is present, it flushes the other one out of the cells. Your body will thank you for consuming more potassium rich foods.

Sodium, however, is not the only one responsible for bloating. Any excess of any nutrient or toxins will make your body go into alert mode and retain water. If you eat a whole cake, you may get Charlie horses in the middle of the night (which is an electrical problem usually started by missing electrolytes and some minerals in addition to lack of water) and also will get you to have sausage fingers.

Bloating does not mean fat gain, but it COULD make you fat.

When your body works this hard to take care of an issue, it will slow down.

What you can do: drink one glass of water for every time you use the restroom, walk one hour a day, avoid soups, eating out, popcorn, crackers; eat more bananas, cantaloupe, oranges, pumpkin; drink coconut water (don't bother with Gatorade because it is sugary); avoid simple sugars.


The biggest complaint pregnant ladies seem to have is being constipated.

In the first trimester, blame it on iron. The prenatal vitamins will clog up anybody!

In the second trimester, blame it on progesterone. The hormone will relax every muscle and, guess what? The intestines are muscles, so they will become sluggish.

In the third trimester, blame it on the baby. He or she will literally "get in the way" of things moving freely.

Because of this, so many women end up with Hemorrhoids, when simply adding more fiber to the diet could help.

Become friends with breads that taste like cardboards, homemade oatmeal, homemade beans and lentils and fibery veggies.

Exercise also affects your bowels. When your heart and large muscles are strong, the other muscles will follow suit, so active people usually have more active bowels!

Also, you do not want to push out a baby while constipated. I have heard women tell horror stories of their first trip to the bathroom after baby.

What you can do: drink more water; exercise; buy breads, cereals and pastas that have at least 5g of fiber per serving; eat oatmeal and fibery vegetables.


As a nutritionist, here are things I would usually advise women preparing for birth, when it comes to nutrition:

- labor may last longer than ten hours. You may not be able to eat and will most likely be exhausted. You want to eat more complex carbohydrates on the weeks leading up to the due date to pack on energy. Avoid simple sugars and juices on the days before the due date. They will crash your sugar levels and start a vicious cycle of starving and fatigue that will make you crave for more sugar and want to give up pushing.

- eat lean meats. You will need the B vitamins that are mostly found in meats to contract properly and aid in energy. You will also need iron, now more than ever, so the baby is not born anemic.

- eat foods rich in omega 3s, especially if your heart is skipping beats due to the pregnancy. I always had PVCs and thankfully have had none during this pregnancy, but they can interfere with stress during labor. You can find them in nuts, peanut butter and most fatty fish. Also, if you had PVCs, avoid caffeine and sugar.

- keep eating foods rich in potassium.

- keep consuming foods rich in calcium. This mineral is one of the most important nutrients in making sure that the contractions are steady have a healthy pattern.

- consume foods rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is probably the most important healing nutrient for wounds and skin damage.

- finally, and maybe most importantly, eat foods rich in vitamin K, unless your doctor especifically tells you not to (people with circulatory issues should ask their doctors about this). Vitamin K helps heal wounds and stop bleeding. This vitamin will help you and baby. One cup of cooked spinach has enough vitamin K for the entire week, so I advise eating one or two cups a week.


Hope this helps, ladies. Please bring this list to your doctors. They may not agree with everything for your particular case.

Oh, and try not to eat a whole cake just because no one is watching and it is Christmas time.

Not a good idea.


  1. Thanks for all the advice. It's amazing how much I already had been applying since the GD diagnosis. But how much Fiber is enough? I'm somewhere around 35-40g/daily and still have problems with the other issue. Extra water and exercise haven't been helping either.

  2. Wendy, sometimes it's the type of fiber. You could be eating mostly from one kind (the ones found in grains, for instance), but you also want to add the ones from fruits and veggies. Both fibers have their "jobs" to do.

  3. great job posting these great ideas!!! i will add that aloe vera juice is good to drink after c-section. It helps heal the wound and it is good for non pregnant woman as well. I get mine from herballife. It does not have added sugar. It is pure aloe vera.



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