How to eat Paleo during Pregnancy: A guide to every trimester

Third Trimester Paleo Eats 

Wow! Almost there...if you're like like most women you're starting to nest and get ready to meet this new little person who's been growing inside you for months. Your baby is growing and displacing your organs including your stomach. This means that you're likely not able to eat very much in one sitting. There are a lot of hormonal changes going on and you're body's insulin response is rapidly changing...curious? Well then, let's jump right into this next post and chat about what to eat in the third trimester. 

Quality not Quantity

As I mentioned before, your tummy is being displaced by your growing baby and eating large meals just isn't an option anymore. If you haven't done so already, it's time to shift your focus from food quantity to food quality. I know that the idea of grazing or eating multiple mini meals is contrary to what many in the paleo world endorse, however, pregnancy is different. Intermittent fasting with infrequent large meals has no place in a healthy pregnancy. You should aim for 4-6 small meals spread through the day and night. 

 Here's an interactive video that shows you where all your organs go! Sounds gross but it's really cool (or at least I think so). 

Many women also find that they are waking up A LOT through the night. Perhaps you have to pee every few hours or you just wake up rather randomly your body is preparing you to be up feeding a baby every 3-4 hrs and is just trying to ease you into this rhythm. Many women find themselves hungry when they wake up...please eat! Subtle drops in blood sugar can actually wake you up out of a deep sleep. Include some carbohydrate in your snack to help boost serotonin levels and help you get back to sleep. Sweet potato, warm apple with cinnamon, mashed pumpkin, chia pudding or sliced avocado are all good choices that can help aid your sleep.

Eat like a diabetic

Huh? But I don't have diabetes or even gestational diabetes? Well this may be true, your body, especially in the third trimester, is increasingly insulin resistant and it's time to modify your menu accordingly.

What exactly is "insulin resistance" ? Good question:

Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body's cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not respond properly to insulin (resistance), the blood sugar level rises. 

In pregnancy, insulin resistance is a normal physiologic adaptation.  It's important because it facilitates rapid fat accumulation, brain development and overall growth in of the baby in the third trimester. This rapid growth is essential to ensure the baby's survival outside the womb. The problem with insulin resistance in modern western culture is that our bodies haven't figured out that sugar isn't scarce commodity and famine isn't a worry. Our cells don't know that we have access to a 'big gulp' 24/ a result, eating a standard american diet in the third trimester often results in gestational diabetic mothers, large for gestational age infants (aka big babies) and excessive pregnancy weight gain, all of which are risk factors for a variety of obstetrical complications.

If you've suffered from PCOS before pregnancy, insulin resistance is even more of a concern. Pre-pregnancy obesity or PCOS can put you at risk for developing later onset gestational diabetes and exaggerate the normal physiologic insulin adaptations in late pregnancy.  So...what should a pregnant cavegirl do?  

Meg the Midwife's Recommended 3rd Trimester Diet & Lifestyle Tips : 

- Avoid SUGARS and fruits. This includes honey, maple syrup and date sweetened paleo treats. If you are a healthy, active cavemama, you don't need to cut these items out entirely, however, you should try to limit them one small serving a day. Stick with low sugar fruits like berries, grapefruit, green apples, and small paleo treats enjoyed after a good walk. After all, life just isn't worth living without Juli's sweet potato brownies! 

- Enjoy proteins and healthy fats till you're satiated. Grassfed meat, free range poultry, wild caught fish, avocados, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grassfed butter, full fat yogurt are all smart choices.

- Load up on leafy nutrient dense dark green veggies like kale, chard, collards

- Enjoy starches in moderation 100-150g/day: Sweet potato, winter squash, yam, turnip, parsnip, pumpkin. The fibre from these starchy veggies will also help feed your healthy gut flora and keep things to speak.

- Watch your sodium levels...your're more prone to swelling in the third trimester.  

- SLEEP LOTS. If you're sleep is disturbed and you feel tired, please sleep, nap and/or rest. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation further contribute to insulin resistance and glucose response in your body.  

- Walk and do yoga. Both of these activities are shown to reduce insulin resistance. What about lifting? Well, if you've been doing it your whole pregnancy, feel free to continue. Ensure your workouts are scaled and appropriate for the changes that are happening in your body during the third trimester. See this post for my take on crossfit in pregnancy. 

A great family run Ontario company who making "midwife approved" sheep dairy!

A great family run Ontario company who making "midwife approved" sheep dairy!

- Maximize probiotic food intake for optimal digestion, immune system function and vaginal flora (your baby will soon be passing right by this region). Raw kraut, fermented veggies, natural yogurts/kefir, kombucha and probiotic supplements are all good options.  



Want some more ideas ?

Send me a message to find out more about personal pregnancy nutrition coaching. I'm now taking a limited number of private clients. I offer everything from a diet review, supplement suggestions, to more detailed planning and one-on-one email or skype support. Please remember, if you're not a midwifery client, I cannot give you any medical advice, simply nutritional suggestions. 

 I also can't wait to get my hands on Diane's new book 21-day Sugar Detox.  I have a great feeling that this plan will be perfect pregnancy diet and ideal for anyone, especially in the 3rd trimester.