EP 4 | How to start using low pressure techniques today (Listener Question)

Hey mamas! Welcome back to another episode of Nutrition for Littles with Mama and Me RD. Today I answer a listener question. A listener asks if she can change from a high pressure mealtime environment to using low pressure techniques and if so how.

I chat about:

  • how to talk to your kids in an age appropriate way
  • how to handle this situation if you have older kids
  • what ages work best with the low pressure technique

If you’re looking for more content from me please head over to my instagram account @mama.and.me_RD where I drop almost daily content helping you change the mealtime environment in your home.

Hope this episode was helpful for you. If it was it would mean so much to me if you left a written review it only takes you a second but impacts my show so much! I would also love it if you shared this podcast episode with your friends and family because it really does take a village to raise kids and it helps when your village is all on the same page!

Thanks and see you next Wednesday!

EP 3 | How to build a meal or snack plate

Hey mamas! Welcome back to another episode of Nutrition for Littles. Today I discuss how to build a balanced plate for your little. I talk about:

  • the differences between a meal and a snack
    a mental checklist of food items to add to a plate
    other considerations when building out a plate
    how much food to put on the plate during a meal or snack

If you’re looking for more content from me please head over to my instagram account @mama.and.me_RD where i drop almost daily content for you. I also have some examples of meals and snacks I’ve fed my children that fit into this framework.

Hope this episode was helpful for you. If it was it would mean so much to me if you left a written review it only takes you a second but impacts my show so much! I would also love it if you shared this podcast episode with your friends and family because it really does take a village to raise kids and it helps when you’re village is all on the same page!

Thanks and see you next Wednesday!

EP 2 | The division of responsibility

Hey mamas! Welcome back to another episode of Nutrition for Littles. Today I dive into the division of responsibility (DOR). The DOR is a great framework for feeding children developed by Ellyn Satter.

It’s a way of dividing up the responsibilities between you and your child at the dinner table to make meals infinitely less stressful.

I figured this would be a great topic to start with since I will likely reference it a lot in the coming episodes so I want to have a place to point you to when you’re needing more clarification.

Hope you enjoy todays episode; if you did please take a second to rate and leave a written review that would mean so much to me. Also would love it if you shared with your friends and family too! If you’re looking for more free content from me head over to my instagram @mama.and.me_RD where I drop new posts almost every day.

Thanks and see you next Wednesday!

EP 1 | Welcome to the pod

Hey hey mamas! Welcome to this brand new podcast that I created just for

Hey mamas! Welcome to the very first episode of Nutrition for Littles with mama and me RD. I am your mama and me RD, Alyssa. Today’s episode is a get to know me. I chat to you about who I am, what I do and what you can expect from today’s episode.

If you want to learn more about me and get access to more free content head over to Instagram and follow me there @mama.and.me_RD I post all sorts of tips and tricks to feeding babies and toddlers and it’s a great place to tell me more about you!

I would love it if you went to my most recent post and told me a little something fun about yourself! If you’re interested in making any episode topic requests or asking any follow up questions please leave them in a comment or DM on my instagram. You can also e-mail me if you’d prefer alyssa@mamaandmerd.com

Thanks so much for tuning in today and I will see you next Wednesday!

Menu Planning From a Seasoned Pro (see what I did there?)

Happy Monday all. Oh wait, it’s not Monday… oh man since I started staying at home with the kids my days all blend and meld together. I hardly know what month it is let alone what day it is… Josh and I were just talking about how in an office you have funny sayings to help you get through the week like “case of the Monday’s” and “hump day” and “Friday eve” and then of course “Fri-yay” why isn’t there one for Tuesdays? Maybe there is an I just don’t know about it…? Hmm let me know. I guess “Monday’s hangover” haha.

Anyways, with staying at home full time none of these mean anything to me anymore because staying at home with the kids is obviously round the clock and year round. So any work that I do end up doing (outside of parenting) is during nap time or after bed time or maybe if they’re entertaining themselves for a few quick minutes. Anyways all this to say is that it FEELS like Monday because that’s usually when I work on my menu for the week and go grocery shopping to get what I need for the upcoming week.

So I was going through my process on not-Monday and thought I would share it with you because it’s taken me SEVERAL years to perfect. Or rather, make serious progress. When I got married at 21 I knew very little about cooking, menu planning, sticking to a budget or how to make something out of nothing (something I feel like all moms are notorious for). I was overwhelmed. I started out small. I would cook only when I felt like it and usually I would find a recipe on Pinterest I liked or email my mom for the recipe to something she makes that I like (hi mom!), then I would write out the ingredients, go to the store and buy exactly what I needed for that meal.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing but it get’s expensive to buy ALL the ingredients for one meal in one go every time you want to cook not to mention the exhaustion of going to the store several times a week. The time used to look up the recipe, write out ingredients, go to the store, buy the ingredients, come home, unload groceries, start cooking and then eat (and hopefully clean up right away) is SOOOOOO long. Likely well over 3 hours! I mean I like to cook but that is too long in the kitchen for me. I have a pretty strict rule that I don’t make anything that takes longer than 45 minutes in the kitchen – if it’s longer than that I either prep it one day and finish it the next, save it for a holiday or its just not for me! haha.

So here’s my process now since I’m so stingy with my time in the kitchen.

  • I inventory my pantry, fridge, and freezer (usually just in my head but you can write it out if you need to – that is nice because then you can update your list in real time as you use up or buy more ingredients)
  • I look at the weather and think what kinds of dishes I would like to make – My appetite is VERY affected by the weather so if it’s a chilly night I might choose to make a pasta, if it’s rainy I may opt for a soup, if its hot and sunny I might choose a salad or something on the grill get my drift?
  • I remember any requests from family. Yes, even my toddler get’s to make his requests. It may not be all I make or I may not make it that night but it gets my consideration, so if he asks for edamame I may make it as a side one night. Or if he asks for mac and cheese the whole family will enjoy it with sides I choose. This also helps the dilemma of when I’m serving dinner and my todder says “NO!! I WANT MAC AND CHEESE” I can calmly tell him “Oh! What a great idea, I will put it on the menu for next week!” this will usually appease him. But remember you have to follow through on that promise at some point otherwise they won’t trust you when you say it next time 😉  
  • Once I know what kinds of dishes I want to make I look at the ingredients on hand and review my LONG list of favorite recipes that are tried and true and see if I have more than 50% of the ingredients needed to make any of those dishes. This makes for a smaller grocery bill and more space in my budget for stocking up on items or for fun snack foods
  • I leave 1-2 nights open for leftovers and Saturdays are always for eating out (my husband and I go on date nights either alone or with friends every other Saturday, then the other Saturdays in the month are family dates)
  • I look at our schedule and decide (while also keeping in mind the weather) which meal should go on which night based on the amount of time we will have to prepare and eat – ex. if we have soccer practice one night we might do something quick and painless and easy to eat in the car if our toddler takes his time (which happens often haha). If we have friends coming over I might cook something that makes more portions and is less hands on time while being easy to clean up so I have more time to socialize. If we have no plans I might try out a new recipe since I’ll have more time to learn. If Josh is coming home from work late I might try to make something that only requires one hand to make, flip or pull out of the oven! haha
  • I have a standing note in my iPhone with the days of the week written out and I just enter which meal I’m making which day and make changes throughout the week as needed
  • I make my grocery list based on what ingredients I am missing and then shop 🙂 While I shop I keep an eye out for sales. If I planned broccoli as a side one night but asparagus is cheaper I make the switch right then and there no problem
  • I * try* to look at it every night before I go to bed to see if there is something I need to take out of the freezer to thaw
  • Bonus tip: I only ever schedule for one MAYBE two new recipes to try out a week (and some weeks I don’t do anything new). New recipes are fun but with kids running around who go to dangerous places if not fed on time it’s not as fun as it used to be so having more than one new recipe to try out a week gets a little stressful
  • Bonus bonus tip: if you’re really struggling to figure out what to serve each day without getting bored or repetitive make a rule like Monday is Italian night, Tuesdays are for Mexican food, Wednesdays are leftovers, Thursdays are for soups and salads, Fridays are for Asian dishes, Saturday we eat out and Sundays are for good old American fare. This helps narrow down your options without being too strict. Some people also keep to a menu rotation which is what we did in the hospital with menus. You build out a menu for the week and then three more weeks without repeating a dish then you cycle through the menus over and over. It cuts down on the work, makes it VERY predictable and easy to shop for. Plus it may sound repetitive but if it’s been one full month since you had enchiladas you’ll be ready for them again 😉 You can always mix it up and do different variations of the same foods (ie. green sauce enchiladas vs red sauce, or chicken tacos vs beef tacos etc etc) that will keep it interesting for a loooong time
  • Tripple bonus tip: I made it a habit to go grocery shopping at only one store, once a week. This saves me a TON of $$ since that’s where I usually blow our budget but it also makes me accountable to menu plan and use what I have on hand. If we run out of something I substitute, borrow from my mom or neighbor, or go without. Say you run out of fresh onion, use the chopped onion spice. Say you run out of milk, lucky kids get juice for the rest of the week. Say you run out of an eggs, flax seeds work magically as a sub in baking. Your subs are just a google search away!

Alright that’s pretty much it for my process. It seems like a lot but it’s helpful to keep this checklist in mind. It makes making dinner wayyyyy less stressful because I’ve already factored in weather, how much time I have to cook, other people’s requests so I know they’ll enjoy it, budget, and what I might have a taste for. I hope this was helpful for you!

Let me know if you would like a peek at my list of dinners that are tried and true! Do you have a list like this? Somewhere written out? I find I forget some if I keep them in my head or they get lost on Pinterest over time. I have a document on my computer that I update regularly. I even put super simple meals on there like quesadillas or frozen pasta so I don’t forget those are always an option if I’m in a pinch.

Thanks for reading – if you want to see more menu planning tips and tricks find me on instagram where I share recipes, menu planning, meal prepping and mom life content. See you there!

Learning to Listen When the Noise is Deafening

Hey Mama, you in the trenches with me? I’ve got a three year old and a two month old. It’s hard to remind myself to focus on me right now. It’s hard not to let my needs slip one more tick down the totem pole. It’s hard to hear my own body’s cues over the noise (and the cuteness) of my kids.

And honestly, it’s easy to ignore my hunger, my pain, and my exhaustion right now. Especially when I have a three (almost four!) year old begging to be carried everywhere because he sees me carrying his baby sister, or asking to sleep in our room because his baby sister is sleeping in our room, or asks for yet another snack in the car (and mine was the only one left) it’s easy to succumb to the pain, the exhaustion and the hunger.

I constantly find myself having to choose between a shower, a hot meal, a nap or spending alone time with my husband. Then I jump on social to serve my community of moms with nutritional info or advice on how to repair their relationship with food, how to feed their children, or give meal inspiration and I feel a little pang of guilt.

That pang is the reminder that I feel like I’m failing at eating intuitively. I remember how earlier that day I ate my lunch so fast I can’t even remember what I had because I knew my daughter was waking up. I remember how yesterday I felt hungry but went to sleep anyways. I remember how I had a pickle and a cup of coffee for breakfast one day because it’s all I had time to grab. I remember how I ate even though I wasn’t hungry because I didn’t know the next time I would have the chance. I feel like a fraud. I’m an intuitive eating dietitian after all and if I can’t eat intuitively, who can?

And honestly, that’s just diet culture bull crap left over from my old days. The truth is intuitive eating isn’t something you can fail at! Even when I skip meals entirely because I choose to grab a nap when the stars have aligned and my babies are napping at the same time, I’m eating (or rather, not eating) intuitively.

Living intuitively is learning your body’s cues – not just for hunger, for all things your body needs. Then it’s making a choice to trust what your body is asking for is important and learning to give it what it is asking for without judgement. Sometimes for me that’s sleeping, or a shower, or a workout, or rest. And that’s ok.

Although it would be nice if eating intuitively was as easy as it sounds – eating every meal mindfully and peacefully. Having time to prepare and serve exactly what you’re craving while also having it fuel and nourish your body in a healthy way. Having a perfect balance of foods to meet all your needs. Enjoying every single bite until we’re perfectly satisfied as per the hunger scale. That’s just not real life. There is no perfect way to eat intuitively because it’s not a diet. You can’t win, you can’t fail. It’s a constant practice, and a constant choice to trust your body and your body learning to trust that you will honor it’s requests.

So exhale mama, you’re doing great.

Now that we’ve let ourselves off the hook a little let’s look at tangible ways to tune into our body and honor it’s needs when the business of life is making it dang near impossible (which happens with or without kids!)

My Tips:

  1. Meal Prep – oh my goodness I cannot stress this enough. Meal prepping is something I’ve LONG tried to prove I don’t need in my life. And although I don’t NEED it, boy does it make it easy to get in a fast meal or snack that makes me feel good. I’ve found my most important meal to prep for is breakfast. It’s not that dinners are easy – because they’re not, but mornings are when everyone seems to need me the most. My daughter wakes up hungry after sleeping 10 hours (thank the Good LORD), my son wakes up hungry and wanting something to entertain him until it’s time to eat, even my dog wakes up hungry. And of course I need coffee before I can even think of cooking breakfast. Having breakfast on hand ready to be served or reheated is a LIFESAVER and usually means I get some time to eat too (even if it is over the back of my nursing baby). My favorite things to meal prep are: protein packed muffins, egg bakes, overnight oats, chia seed pudding, and frozen homemade waffles. I also enjoy having ready to eat foods on hand like yogurt, toast, and fruit.
  2. Menu plan – without a menu plan in place we would eat out daily for dinner I’m sure of it. Which doesn’t sound like the worst thing but trust me it will get boring and expensive! Every Sunday I plan the coming week’s dinners and every Monday I grocery shop (or have my groceries delivered – a life saver with an infant or a toddler but especially both!). If I ever get an extra minute during the day I may even start prepping that dinner little by little. Even if it’s just chopping up the veggies or getting all the ingredients in one place it saves SO much time later. Having a menu planned is key to actually helping me get some time to sit and enjoy dinner with my family.
  3. Snacks – pack all the snacks. Not only for my toddler but for me #momsnacks. I have a stash in my purse, diaper bag, in the car and even in my bedroom! I’m basically a squirrel. I keep a bin full of shelf-stable snacks in all those places so when hunger hits I have some choices right then and there. I also stash more than I have to because once a toddler hears the crinkle of a snack, they will come. My favorite shelf-stable snacks are trail mix, fig bars, kind bars, pretzels, cashews and dried mangoes. That way if I forget to bring a snack for myself in the car or more likely my toddler decides he would like two string cheeses (his plus mine) I have a backup. Anytime I use one of these snacks I always replace it.
  4. Learn to say no – it’s OK to say no to your toddler or your husband or whoever. It’s good for my toddler to know that mama has to/wants to finish eating her meal too before she gets up to get him seconds or find his army guy or what have you. It’s important for them to see you eating, making yourself a priority, and fulfilling your needs. I’m as selfless as they come but I’m not doing my kids any favors (or myself) by teaching them my needs don’t matter and that one day when they have kids theirs won’t either.
  5. Get good at eating with your lefthand while holding a baby to your chest. If you can master this skill you’re my hero. I recommend you start learning with cold foods and avoid spilling the hot soup on your baby’s cheek. Also try to learn how to cook, serve food, or grab a snack while nursing this is a serious mom skill that will serve you well for the first few months of your child’s life. I’ve even gotten pretty good at letting my daughter nurse while in a sling – two hands free – Holla!
  6. Ask for help – get your husband, partner, mom or friend to bring you meals or snacks that are ready to go or help with the kids around meal time – hello, dad can get you more applesauce too Jr! 😉  
  7. It’s also ok if you don’t eat every single meal together right now. I know the research and how important it is to eat all together as a family but sometimes that doesn’t work out and that’s ok. Drop the guilt over that. Feed your kids, get them to bed, then enjoy a hot meal with your spouse and maybe crack open a bottle of wine while you’re at it.
  8. In the end know it’s just a season. Soon your kids will nap at the same time, or go off to school, or stick to a schedule of some kind. Soon your infant won’t be wanting to nurse every time you turn around and maybe one day your kids won’t wake up early on the one day you decided to wake up before them to try and get some time to prepare!

You’re doing great mama. This stage is all apart of it. You’re not failing your body, you’re doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can ask for in this stage of life. So, for now give yourself some grace, grab a snack or two, eat when you have time, and even eat the crumbs that fell on your baby’s cheek (we’ve all done it). Most importantly keep showing up to remind your self that listening to your body may look different today than it did yesterday but the ups and downs are all apart of it. Because in reality that’s life and change is the only thing you can count on.

Introduction to Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating (IE) is a nutrition philosophy developed by two RDs, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – they coined the term and put out a book outlining the principles. There are 10 principles in total:

  1. Reject the diet mentality
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Respect your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Honor your feelings without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise – Feel the difference
  10. Honor your health

You can get a breakdown line by line by visiting this site here or by listening to my podcast (Diet Riot) episode 3 “Why didn’t you eat a donut | All about intuitive eating”

How I describe IE is getting back to the roots of how we were supposed to interact with food. Think of a baby, nursing or even taking a bottle, babies cry when they’re hungry, when they’re offered their milk, they drink, when they’re full they stop, turn their head and decline any further offers. We are born to be intuitive eaters.

So you might be asking yourself “if we’re meant to be intuitive eaters what gets in the way?”. (Refer to principle #1) The diet mentality. Diet culture, which is the environment that exists that promotes dieting as a fix it to whatever your “issue” is. That ‘perceived’ issue may be your weight, your size, your body type, your energy, your anything really. It’s the idea that “health” is a certain size or shape. It’s the idea that we need someone outside ourselves to tell us what to do, when to do it and why.

It’s the thousands of messages we are bombarded with daily through marketing and sales saying we aren’t enough… but we could be if we buy this meal plan, if we subscribe, if we eat this and not that, if we start this diet and follow it strictly, if we… and on and on and on.

This diet mentality ALWAYS leads to destruction. It pours doubt and shame on you until you give in and decide to “do something about your health” and that something is usually starting a restrictive diet that causes you to feel deprived and turns food into the enemy. This restriction can’t last, it just simply isn’t sustainable, and ultimately leads to a binge which causes the guilt and shame to pour right back in. This is what we refer to as the shame-diet-binge cycle that is ever present in most people’s lives. This cycle is not only detrimental for our physical health but also damages our relationship with food and our bodies causing more and more harm everytime we cycle through this loop. It can cause disordered eating patterns, negative self-talk, and eventually lead to a full blown eating disorder.

So taking the power away from food, re-learning your hunger and fullness cues, placing the emphasis on habits that serve you and your body, re-claiming your thoughts around food, trusting that your body knows best for you, and learning to be creative and take risks with food in order to learn what works best for you in a gentle way to nourish your body is the goal and all you will need for life.

IE doesn’t have rules or an exact process but if it did it would look like this: step back and audit your current relationship with food (without judgement), tune in and try your best to honor what your body is asking for, try something (anything), learn how your body responds, add that knowledge to your bank of information about YOUR body, repeat.

I promise you your relationship with food will grow exponentially. I promise you food freedom, mental peace and a giant leap towards actually loving your body and isn’t that what you really want anyways when you buy or follow that diet?

Sign up for my email list to get a monthly newsletter about how you can adapt IE in your life and learn gentle nutrition to nourish and satisfy the body that you love!

Intuitive Eating While on Vacation

Is it just me or is coming home from vacation one of the hardest things to do? I mean I love coming back to my own bed, being reunited with my pup and waking up to the smell of my very own fresh coffee, but coming back to the reality of daycare, chores, work, the bills and budgeting and the rotten kiwi I forgot to throw out before we left brings a melancholy to my soul.

So I thought I would write this post to extend my vacation as long as I can. Maybe re-living it in this post will make the come back a little easier.

I recently went to Ventura, California with my family to visit my extended family and it was incredible. When I think of California I think of three things. Ocean, wine and GREAT food. I’ve been to San Fransisco, LA, Santa Barbra, Catalina Island, Napa valley, Carmel and now Ventura. The one thing I can say about all these places? Amazing, fresh, and inspired food. I live for good, no great, food. I would call myself a foodie for sure. I love restaurants and cooking, finding new recipes. I love grocery shopping and exploring new ingredients. I love learning what makes a food good and how to prepare it in the best way. Obviously California feels the same way.

So when you’re on vacation I want you to enjoy the food, get a taste for the local fare and step out of your comfort zone use food to enrich your experience. When it comes to intuitive eating while on vacation it’s silly to say but not a lot changes from when you’re at home and intuitively eating. Eat what you want and what you know will nourish your body. Nourish meaning not only feed your hunger, but also your soul.

I actually think you should act a little more like you’re on vacation when you’re at home. Imagine an all inclusive resort. You show up and there are tables upon tables full of lobster, fresh seafood, burgers, all things fried and buttered, all the foods you’ve dreamt of. There’s a whole table dedicated to desserts and an open bar. You have all these options and they’re always there. Stocked.

Think of day four of that vacation. When you’ve learned that those foods will always be stocked, when you know what your options are and you’ve already enjoyed all types of foods and know what they taste like, how your body responds and what your favorites are. This should be how you feel about your life at home with food.

You should never feel restricted from a food or a food group. Something should never be “off limits”. Those chips you love? Guess what, as far as I can see the grocery store will never stop selling them. They’re there if that’s what you really want and that’s what your body is telling you it wants. Just like that dessert table at the all inclusive resort. It’s there, waiting for you.

The magic? Just knowing that food is there for you whenever you want it releases you from feeling like you HAVE to have it. When you take foods off the “do not eat” list or the “rarely eat list” it gives you FOOD FREEDOM!! Which is what we all want, right? not to be controlled by our thoughts around food?

Vacation is a perfect place to practice that. So as your dietitian I am ordering you to go on as many vacations as possible! Ha ha! But for real, picture an RX slip with that written on it signed by me. Let yourself live. Enjoy the food, skip the guilt and tune in to your body.

Ok so now a few bullet points because who doesn’t love quick and easy steps?

  • When you’re on vacation still pay attention to your hunger cues, your fullness cues and your cravings or satiety level
  • It’s OK to eat something you can have at home
  • It’s OK to eat when you’re not hungry if it’s something that you really want and will make your vacation more enjoyable – ex. shaved pineapple in Hawaii even when you’re not “hungry”
  • Remember intuitive eating is not the hungry/full diet
  • It’s OK to visit the same restaurant several times during your trip if it’s what you want
  • Listen to your body and trust that your body knows best when it comes to what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and whether to eat
  • It’s ok to not finish your plate even if you may feel you’ll never be able to eat this again
  • It’s ok to FINISH your plate even if you’re full
  • Do not “save up” calories before your trip or work out more or eat less in preparation to your trip all that will lead to is the cycle of diet, restrict, binge etc on vacation – not fun
  • DO pay attention to how your body is responding to foods you’re not used to and add it to your “tool belt” when making future food decisions
  • Remember eating times and types of foods are going to vary greatly from your at home diet so be prepared, maybe bring some snacks or try to book a hotel with a mini fridge for leftovers or items for breakfasts etc
  • Be mindful of the activities you’re planning and keep them in mind when ordering food – you don’t want to be too full to enjoy that zip-line tour or stuck in the bathroom all day when you could be on the beach
  • Always always stay hydrated, whether you’re drinking alcohol or not or you’re in the sun all day you’re far more likely to get dehydrated on vacation which can lead to burn out, discomfort, tiredness and over eating
  • Over all enjoy your trip don’t let food rules keep you from the experiences you can have and remember that intuitive eating is the steady choice to choose to trust your body before vacation, during and after

Hope this was helpful! Thanks for reading and see you in my next post or you can catch me on Instagram @aly.miller.rdn or tune in to my weekly podcast Diet Riot wherever you listen to your podcasts!

Intuitive Eating While Pregnant

Here I am, 22 weeks pregnant with my second baby on the way. This time around is a little different than with our first. First of all, baby is a GIRL! So exciting because who doesn’t love a new challenge?! Second of all, I am MUCH further along in my intuitive eating journey during this pregnancy than I was during my last.

As we all know intuitive eating is never truly “over” or “done” or even “mastered”. Intuitive eating is a life long journey. It’s a process, it’s the way that you eat, it’s your diet – in the truest sense of the word, not the dirty four letter sense of the word. It’s how you’ve fueled your body, how you’ve shown love to your body, and how you’ve honored your body. It’s a work of art that includes all the colors in all the spaces in all the amounts, no holding back.

So this being said I had started learning and incorporating intuitive eating in my life about six months before we found out I was pregnant the first time. So to say I was working on it would be an understatement. I was still holding on to food rules and had foods on a “do not consume” list in my head or even “consume this only on rare occasions” list. I was weighing myself bi-weekly and had a fitness routine I was stuck to even though I hated [most] of it.

Being pregnant gave way to MORE food rules, restrictions, and at the same time MORE food freedom – or what felt like food freedom. We’ve all heard the saying “eating for two” which although highly inaccurate let’s women “off the hook” when they have extra helpings or eats something they normally wouldn’t eat, right? It perpetuates the idea that women need an excuse to eat that extra portion or eat that food they would normally leave on their plate. It gives an excuse and a reason when really, you don’t need a reason or an excuse. You don’t need to explain away or justify anything or any amount of food you eat.

I have found with my first pregnancy I felt I had more of what felt like “food-freedom” because I used excuses and justifications. I felt more food rules because as an RD I knew I needed more of certain foods. I knew in order to feel like a good mom I SHOULD eat this and not that. I SHOULD avoid these sweets and eat more whole foods etc etc etc. These are all food rules and when you have a healthy relationship with food you realize that you eat healthier. You’re not restricted or feel like you “deserve” a binge because all foods fit and honestly you body does eventually crave the whole foods that it needs during pregnancy without any coaxing from your inner diet culture jaded voice. Yes, it will ask for the foods that were previously on your “do not eat list” but that’s ok because again, ALL foods fit. I repeat, ALL foods fit.

All that being said, this time around I am about four years into my intuitive eating journey. I’ve come a long way but I have a far way to go. I have noticed a huge difference with my intake as a pregnant woman. First of all, I don’t feel the need to justify what or how much I’m eating. Second of all, I am more in tune with my body. I feel the upswings and downswings of hunger and I know how to respond. I feel the tug on my stomach and my soul with cravings and I respond. I anticipate how my body will respond to food and I make informed choices of what to eat and when while also respecting my satisfaction factor and appreciating the gentle nutritional need that pregnancy puts on my body.

All in all I find that eating is the best cure to hunger, and I am hungry A LOT. I found intuitive eating more difficult in the first trimester. I was riddled with nausea and extreme exhaustion. On top of taking care of a toddler I had to make sure I was meeting the bare minimum nutritionally. I leaned on my support system heavily, my husband, my mom and my mother in law. I ate when I could and I ate whatever I felt wouldn’t make me nauseous while keeping in mind my body’s need for carbs, fat, protein and even trying to work on getting in more vitamins/minerals like vitamin D, calcium, choline and iron etc. I would run through the rolodex (do you even know what that is any more) of foods that I like, that I have access to, and that I’ve had in the past and only stopped once something sounded tolerable.

My eating was spontaneous at best and what some might call “reckless”. I would have days of pop tarts and tacos followed by days of smoothies and salads. I would go all day without food then make my husband grab a burger from Five Guys at 9:58pm (right before they closed-sorry workers). I would eat mounds of nuts and protein bars, cold fruit and cold pizza then the next day I would eat eggs for breakfast lunch and dinner. This is all ok. This is part of it. Intuitive eating is messy and sometimes unpredictable and definitely not always instagram-able. That’s ok. I would have loved to write “especially during pregnancy” right here but honestly – not especially. This is true for all stages of intuitive eating. You learn day in and day out what works best for you, you learn bite by bite what you like, and what you don’t.

Second trimester (honestly more like 2.5 trimester) has been my jam. I am no longer in survival mode. I have very few (and far between) aversions to food. I am back in the swing of intuitive eating based on my body and my needs. I hear my cues and I am able to respond. I find that I am hungrier than before I was pregnant which makes sense. I respond by eating more because of course I do. I find that my lunch meal is bigger than it used to be and my breakfast is a little smaller. Times that I am hungry or feel like eating change daily. I find that I say no to a lot more food than I did with my first pregnancy. I used to feel like pregnancy was the only time I could fully “indulge” or “binge” because ‘the baby needed it’ hehe. I now realize that pregnant or not I can have what I want, when I want it and the freedom that that thought alone provides gives my body the ok to crave and ask for whole foods. I find that when I stop restricting or reducing or placing rules around food I actually want those foods LESS often.

So how to intuitively eat while you’re pregnant, listen and respect your body more than ever before. It will be good to you with what you need, want and what will serve you and your baby well. Let go of the food rules you’ve made – write them out as you come across them and repeat to yourself that all foods fit at all times. Remember that intuitive eating is messy and looks inconsistent sometimes and that’s ok. Remember not to eat out habit. I had the hardest time coming back to intuitive eating in my new body after baby or after breast feeding. I had developed eating patterns and habits that weren’t serving me after Aiden was born. I needed to re-learn my body, my cues, and my responses to food. They had changed, and that’s ok too. It is normal and expected for your eating habits to change as you change. It is a constant learning process that is ever-changing and ever-exciting. 🙂