By Frances Largeman-Roth, RD
I'm nine months pregnant, and I'm quickly losing the real estate for my internal organs, including my stomach. That means I'm eating a lot of little thingsâ€”often. Not only am I trying to pack in essential nutrients as my little girl packs on the pounds, but I'm also trying to counteract some pregnancy-related health issues.
I've been vigilant about getting plenty of calcium and potassium, because it seems to help stave off the nightly leg cramps I've been getting. I'm also saddled with heartburn, which I'd never experienced until a few weeks ago. Initially I thought I could avoid it off by skipping tomato-based sauces and spicy food, but it turns out that even something as harmless as a fruit smoothie can bring on the burn.
frances-tums-200.jpg in their third trimesterâ€”more than half of all pregnant women report symptoms. Not only do you lose room in your stomach, but also the hormone Relaxin makes your esophageal sphincterâ€”the little flap that protects your throat from getting splashed with stomach acidâ€”all loosey-goosey.
So what am I eating these days? Lots of Tums. I'm averaging about four or five of them a day, and I keep a supply at my desk and in my purse. Heartburn isn't really painfulâ€”just annoying. And in between popping Tums (which are packed with at least 200 mg calcium), I'm trying to pack in about 2,300 calories a day. Even though I know exactly what to eatâ€”I just finished writing a book on pregnancy nutrition called Feed the Bellyâ€”I still have to motivate myself to eat well. I do get hungry, but I fill up fast and I'm also drinking lots of fluids. And unlike earlier in my pregnancy, when I experienced strong cravings, I often find myself completely adrift when deciding what to eat.
Here's what a typical day looks like right now:
5:45 a.m.: I grab a banana and a glass of juice before I head out.
Subway ride: I snack on a few bites of granola, then pop a Tums.
10:30 a.m.: I rummage around for something healthy and find a yogurt and a piece of fruit.
12:30 p.m.: Someone announced that there's chocolate milk in the office fridge, so I pour myself a glass.
2 p.m.: I finally go get some lunch at Pret A Manger. Nothing is really calling to me, but I settle on a grilled chicken and mozzarella sandwich, a small bowl of tomato bisque, and a Harvest Cookie.
5 p.m.: My husband calls and asks the perennial question "What do you want to do about dinner?" I hem and haw, and finally settle on the diner across the street, where I can at least order breakfast for dinner.
7 p.m.: I order scrambled eggs with wheat toast, plus a side of stuffed grape leaves.
9 p.m.: I peel a large grapefruit and eat about half of it. My heartburn strikes again, so I pop two Tums.
I'm heading to dinner with girlfriends tomorrow night and hope I can work up an appetite for the pan-Asian/British food we'll be having. More important, I hope my baby likes it, too.
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