Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surviving and Thriving in Pregnancy

I am sure any and all of you pregnant mamas can relate to me at one point or another with the following:
That silent guilt trip you give yourself as you stuff your face with Tater Tots for the 3rd time today because making a sandwich is seriously too much to handle right now.
Nothing sounds good.
You want me to cook nourishing meals for my family when I feel like WHAT?!
I'm barely on top of trying to maintain a house, nurture my children, love on my husband and food is really the last thing on my mind...unless I'm hungry...then everything else can just slide. 
Standing is really low on my priority list because my (insert ailing body part/body here) is really making life a living disability right now. 
I could go on and on with the situations of life, family and special circumstances surrounding these few months that we are carrying a precious life inside of us, and sometimes it's all we can do to just throw in the towel and say "I GIVE UP! GIVE ME BURGERVILLE OR GIVE ME DEATH!"
I know that for me, this pregnancy has resulted in pretty severe sciatica pain and my hip dysplasia flaring up if I do even light housework or stand for more than 10 minutes or bend over to you know...tend to my two toddlers.  I have a sweet friend who is due a few weeks after I am and she is dealing with some pretty severe vericose veins in her legs which makes moving or functioning on a "normal" pregnant mommy level nigh near impossible. There is so much I could write about tips to make things easier on ourselves as far as food, housework, asking for/accepting help, asking our spouses to help us more than usual, etc. So today, I'll just focus on some good ideas to simplify our menus, and maximize nutrition during our pregnancies without breaking the bank, spending 4 hours in the kitchen or having to spend precious brain cells on thinking about what to fix next (when frankly we feel like goldfish right now...let's face it ladies...our memory sucks for 10 months. Placenta Brain. Baby Took My Brain Cells. You know the drill.)  So, here it is! I'm sure there are ALOT of great ideas not mentioned here, but here are a few ideas that have helped me survive morning sickness, lack of motivation, give myself some grace and tender care when it comes to food and our family!

#1 Menu Plan
I know you've heard it from me before but you're gonna hear it again...If you want to plan to succeed you need to PLAN! (my husband usually gets paid every other friday so usually wednesday or thursday of the week he gets paid I go ahead and make out my menu for the next 2 weeks.) Then we go shopping on the weekend (and he usually comes along so we stay in budget better, keep the kids from eating each other, and help me make better decisions, especially right now that my...well...PLACENTA BRAIN.
-make a list of your family's FAVOURITE 15-20 meals and rotate them.
-if you're more of a "theme" person, come up with a themed night for every weeknight and eat leftovers on the weekends. Things like Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Fridays, Crockpot Wednesdays, Munchy Mondays, Soup Thursdays...or even Chicken Mondays and Wednesdays, Beef Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Fish Fridays or Beans/Vegetarian Mondays... Something like that...just DO it, then put your favorite meals that match up with that in that.
 But again, write out a plan whether it's for 1 week, 2 weeks, or for the month. ( i'd personally go with making a 2 week menu plan or bigger only so It's one less thing I have to do weekly)
-plan out your breakfasts and lunches too. Don't kill yourself trying to come up with tons of stuff  variety. I usually rotate oatmeal, yogurt and granola, eggs and toast, 1 day of cereal etc. and leave saturday mornings or sunday mornings to make something a little more involved ONLY IF I AM UP TO IT.  That's it, baby. Lunches are much the same, rotate a couple days of sandwiches, one day of popcorn, veggies, fruit, cheese, pickles, leftovers for a lunch, and quesadillas with veggies/fruit.
-one of the most IMPORTANT things I tell pregnant ESPECIALLY during pregnancy, make ABSOLUTELY sure to include healthy protein sources into every meal that you eat. Whether it's that you have to cook an egg or two on the side to eat with your oatmeal, or with your sandwich at lunch or beans/meat with dinner...just DO it. You and baby need it and it's one of the best ways to give you and baby sustained energy. 5 minutes can make a huge difference in how the next 6 hours go!

#2 Simplify
-of course I want to include lots of dark leafy greens, veggies, fruits, yadda yadda...but you know what? Sometimes it just DOESN'T happen. So instead of trying to buy out the produce market to make smoothies, juices and salads 3 times a day...How about one time a day? whether it's a smoothie in the morning, a smoothie with lunch or a salad with dinner....plan on a green side/smoothie ONE TIME in your day. Don't overthink it. Don't kill yourself if it doesn't happen every day...but if it is important to you, do it. Just don't OVER-do it. Less bulk in your fridge and less time of you preparing stuff.
-if it takes more than 5 or 6 ingredients to make, chuck the recipe for now and come up with something more simple.
-use simple resources like Rachel Ray's website for quick meal ideas that are under 30 minutes (adjust according to your family's diet preferences). Do simple things like a crockpot chili, taco soup, pizza, crockpot roast, grilled cheese sammies and tomato soup, chicken/marinara pasta, tacos, your two favourite soups, easy stir fry, pot stickers- all of that.
-maximize your time and make concessions where necessary. if you don't want to hand-shred potatoes for making latkes or hash browns, get Trader Joe's Tots. They don't have any weird ingredients or hydrogenated oils in them. Don't wanna make your own yogurt? Get Nancy's Whole Milk Yogurt. Want to do a pre-made frozen meal once a week so you don't have to cook? Find something at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or Fred Meyer, etc. like a frozen lasagna or something your family loves! Don't wanna make your own bread or tortillas? Buy them.
-don't fall for the gadget/food fad and get wrapped up in it. just be simple and consistent for your family.
-think about making anything that involves more prepwork (or even quick soups like broccoli cheddar soup!) in the MORNING or AFTERNOON when most of us will have more energy instead of the END of the day when all you want to do is sleep, cry, vege...again...this is why having a MENU PLAN FOR EVERYTHING...EVEN YOUR FREAKING SNACKS makes all the difference.

#3 Give Yourself Grace
-this doesn't mean to start compromising you and your families' health by eating junk all the time.
-what it DOES mean is to not get so caught up in food that you miss taking care of yourself, your family, and your sanity. we could all do with being a bit more gracious to ourselves in this season. for some, this can mean cutting out some activities/outings, simplifying our menu/meal plans, asking for our husband's help around the house more and focusing our attention and time HOMEWARD.
-one of the most valuable things that has been given to me in this season of being a stay-at-home mama and a one-car family is that it forces me to limit where I go, what I do and how much I do it. It has caused me to focus much more on maintaining my home, my family and my relationship with the Lord. To learn to discipline my time better and realize that it is BEST that I make things very simple, very calm and relatively uncomplicated for these next few months of hobbit's gestation (and may I say for life?)
-and here's where I get nitty gritty. If you're feeling obligated to "keep your day" busy, or constantly be going here and there...doing this and that-either by YOU or your PEERS....STOP IT. Stop it right now. Our homes and our kids, and our pregnancies/pregnant bodies are suffering because we're too busy trying to maintain the "I can do it all mom" image...then we get burned out, frazzled, short-tempered, frumpy, grumpy, over-extended, physically injured and sick. We're at our wit's end and we're allowing others' and our own expectations and standards (even those we perceive but aren't there!) to rule our lives instead of the quiet, constant floodtide of the grace and beauty of God.
-KNOW YOUR LIMITS...and if you don't? MAKE SOME. I know that I speak from experience as a firstborn over-achieving type A extrovert. Maintaining a social standard for the sake of your reputation and because it makes you feel good is ridiculous. And exhausting. And completely unnecessary.
-LET GO. Enough said.
-"Therefore by the grace of God go I." Let this be our creed, ladies. We can't do ANYTHING apart from the grace and love and strength and mercy of Jesus. Oh, we can go for a while, but it's going burn out really fast without HIS strength and purpose and grace going before us and infusing us so that we can live each day.

I hope these have helped! I didn't include specific recipes, but I'll include some frequently-used resources of mine for any ideas I need a part from our "favorites" list right now.

What are some ways you simplify your life and food habits during pregnancy? Any advice you can give?

Rachel Ray's recipes (usually quick and uncomplicated and easy to search for something!)
Frugal Granola's recipes (especially the crockpot/one-pot meal section!) also, take a look at her menu plans when she posts them. they are really simple, really fabulous (she has little ones!) and don't take tons of time in the kitchen.
Amy from The Finer Things In Life (has some great family-friendly recipes and pictures too! She has some great kitchen tips and tricks as well!)
Keeper Of The Home (has alot of easy quick meal options---take a peek!)
Lindsay from Passionate Homaking (this page is a GREAT resource for busy seasons, quick and easy meals that are nourishing and further resources on simple nourishing food to cook depending on the season of life you are in!)

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