Soooo...I am not the best eater in the world.
In terms of how much food I can pack away, I am a virtual champion. I love food. But I don't always eat good food. And by "good" I mean "healthy".
This is something I've made a concentrated effort to change since discovering Lucy will be here in a few short months. Before I found out I was pregnant, I was drinking lots of coffee every day. Now I've minimized it to a few drinks per week (sometimes more than others), usually tea or iced coffee but sometimes, yes, a good old fashioned Coke. When I go places like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, I know I can get decaf, so I try to avoid frequenting McDonald's (which is hard because there are so many of them and their iced coffee is cheaper). I hear stories everywhere about how "coffee is fine!" and "I drink it all the time", along with receiving the occasional stare-down from that really fit woman who obviously never put any caffeinated poison in her body while she was pregnant. I think I've found a balance but, so far, I haven't felt fully confident about anything I eat, even the "good stuff". I am a pro at second guessing myself.
This insecurity about my diet is made even more pronounced when I eat at a fast food restaurant. I'll admit, I love some french fries. Chick-Fil-A is my kryptonite. And I've probably had fast food a couple times a week the whole time I've been pregnant (but before you scream at me, let's think about the math here: that's an average of three meals a week, give or take a few, in terms of the typical twenty-one meals consumed over the course of seven days...that only accounts for about seven percent of what goes into my body). Sometimes I feel okay about it, especially when I rationalize it out by reading what pregnant women used to do decades ago...but then I think about how many more artificial ingredients and preservatives go into our foods these days, and my good feeling goes away fast. I fear I will wind up with a pickled baby.
So let me be honest here: I have been selfish. I want a cheeseburger? Dang it! I'm going to eat a cheeseburger. I didn't sleep because baby is starting to kick so much? I'm going to get some coffee! (Although perhaps baby is kicking so much because I drank coffee?)
But I've also eaten more vegetables and organic foods and paid more attention to what goes into my body than ever before. I've started adding flaxseed meal to my flour or cake batter or cornbread mix. I eat avocados for a snack and use only olive oil or butter with those good Omega 3 fatty acids. I've mostly cut out red meat (when I'm not eating a cheeseburger, mind you) and stocked up on black beans and kidney beans instead. I take my prenatal vitamin like it's going out of style (and by that I just mean everyday). I even started growing my own carrots! Hopefully in a few more weeks they will be edible.
But let's be straight here, okay? Our culture makes eating badly very, very easy. Bad food is cheap and convenient, and I used to think people who said the same thing about organic, healthy food were full of it. "Have you been to Whole Foods?" I wanted to ask. We tried making that place our grocery of choice, but damn. We just couldn't fit it into our budget for very long.
Since we moved back into the city, we've heard a ton of fabulous things about the Dekalb Farmers Market. Apparently it's massive, filled to the brim with international and domestic fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts, artisan breads, and more, AND...drumroll please...it's CHEAP.
Today, I found out for myself that the rumors are true. And I couldn't be happier. I got fresh corn on the cob, bananas, roma tomatoes, dragon fruit, avocados, baby bella mushrooms, chocolate soy milk (any reviews on that before I take the plunge?), and a loaf of homemade olive focaccia bread for just fifteen dollars. It was easy on our budget and it made me feel excited about eating well, about eating to satisfy my hunger and give my baby the nutrients she needs. People talk about eating well like it's easy, but it's a habit that must be carefully cultivated. At least that's what it's been for me. I certainly didn't grow up in a house full of junk food. We ate plenty of veggies and fruits, but there was also never a shortage of macaroni and cheese or Hamburger Helper. It was just kind of...typical...and that's exactly how my adult diet has been.
I really want to enjoy my food. Some nutritionists advise against turning meals into events, but I disagree. I love beautiful food. I love to cook it and eat it. I love to arrange my fruit on a painted plate and eat it slice by slice. I love to savor each bite and laugh with my husband and friends. Meals are lovely things, and I think a good one is just another form of fellowship. Shauna Niequist talks about this in her (amazing) book Cold Tangerines.
I'm almost twenty-two weeks along, and save Farm Burger burgers which are organic, grass-fed, and out of this world GOOD, I have decided to leave the burgers alone. No more junk for this baby mama. If I can't make more of a commitment to what I eat now, how will I ever build good eating habits for my little girl? I don't want to have to try and change what she's already learned...I want to get a good head start from the beginning. It's way too important for her development, and for my health as a mama.
Although, I will admit that if she's ever screaming and refuses to nap and I've got puke all down my shirt and a good ol' fashioned car ride won't do the trick...I will have no problem resorting to a McDonald's Happy Meal every once in awhile.
What do you do to stay committed to healthy eating? Tips and suggestions are very welcome!