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What’s The Deal With Food Aversions During Pregnancy?

Food aversions are common during pregnancy. Some women have intense food aversions during the first trimester that then settle down, while other women experience food aversions throughout the nine months. For some other women, food aversions can come and go during pregnancy.

While there can be a variety of types of food aversions, the most common ones are to meat, coffee and eggs.

Food aversions are different from foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, such as:

  • alcohol
  • deli meats
  • unpasteurized cheese
  • raw proteins
  • raw veggie sprouts
  • foods that may contain BPA, lead and mercury

While food aversions are difficult to deal with, they will not harm your baby. The issue to consider is if you are not getting proper nutrition, which can happen if you stop eating, or if you frequently throw up much or all of your food.

That is why it is so important to find ways to navigate your food aversions.

The reason for food aversions during pregnancy

There are a number of hypotheses about why food aversions develop:

1. They are hormone related

Hormonal fluctuations in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) increases rapidly through the first trimester, then peaks and levels off. The theory is that these hormone fluctuations are tied to food aversions during pregnancy.

2. Taste aversion learning

It can be tough to eat when you feel nauseated all day, every day. You may begin to associate foods with nausea and vomiting, causing you to no longer enjoy them.  

3. Maternal and embryonic protection

Food aversions may exist to protect your baby from foods that can contain harmful toxins or micro-organisms.

How to deal with food aversions during pregnancy  

Regardless of the cause of food aversions during pregnancy, it is important to accept and accommodate them. The most important thing to do is make sure you are getting enough nutrition. How do you do that?

1. Have a variety of foods available

It can be hard to predict when a food aversion might strike. Given this, it’s important to have lots of food options available. When one isn’t working for you, move on to something else. And I recommend that my clients always restock what is working well before you run out!

2. Be flexible

If you are dealing with food aversions, it is important to eat when the desire strikes and only have as much as you want. When you want a meal, have one. Don’t worry if the combination of foods seems odd or if the sizes are unusual. The critical thing is that you eat!

3. Experiment with different textures and temperatures

You may find that you can stomach liquids over solids, or cold and crunchy over hot and creamy. Again, don’t judge what works for you in any given moment. Then, if your tastes change, experiment again until you find something else that works.

4. When all else fails, try bland foods

The less flavour a food has, the less likely it is to cause a serious reaction. When no other food is working for you, opt for bland foods like rice, apple sauce and baked potatoes.

When it’s time to call the doctor about your food aversions

You can navigate most food aversions, but there are times when it is important to reach out to your medical professional. What are those times?

1. When nothing is working

If you have tried all the ways of navigating food aversions and you still aren’t able to keep anything down, it’s time to call your care provider. They will need to make sure that the issue is really food aversions, not something more serious. That may mean that you will need some testing done.

Depending on the results of those tests, your doctor may want to pursue treatment for another condition or discuss medical interventions to ensure you and your baby are getting proper nutrition.

2. If you start experiencing odd cravings

If you get to the point where you are craving ashes, dirt, or any other non-food item, that could be a sign of a larger issue. These cravings can sometimes signal vitamin or mineral deficiencies. They can generally be remedied, but they need to be identified and addressed by a medical professional.

3. If there is blood

Your food aversions may lead to vomiting. That is not a huge worry. If, however, you see blood in your vomit, that’s a different story. Should you see this, you need to see a medical professional as soon as possible as this could be a sign of a serious issue.

 

Still having issues with food aversions during pregnancy? Let me create a personalized food plan that works for you and changes as your aversions change!


Diastasis Recti: What Is It, And What You Can Do About It

Diastasis Recti: What is it, and what you can do about it

There is a lot of misinformation about diastasis recti (also called ab separation) out there. People refer to this condition as “mummy tummy” or “pooch” because it leaves the belly looking and feeling soft and squishy.

I am bringing you honest and accurate information about diastasis recti in this blog. So let’s deal with facts:

What is diastasis recti, really?

Why does it happen?

What can you do about it?

What is diastasis recti?

There is a pair of muscles that run vertically down each side of the anterior abdominal wall, this muscle is collectively referred to as the rectus abdominis. We call these our “abs”. This is the muscle that people focus on to achieve a flatter stomach.

The two sides of the rectus abdominis are joined by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba. To make room for your growing baby during pregnancy, the two sides of the rectus abdominis separates. This causes the linea alba to stretch out, and results in a separation or a “diastasis”.

Is it common?

Diastasis recti is normal nearly every woman is going to have a mild diastasis of 16 mm near the end of their third trimester. We classify diastasis by both width and tension.  Two finger separation is considered to be a mild case, whereas four or more fingers of separation is considered severe. How much tension a woman creates across the gap indicates how well the connective tissue can transfer load; and provide appropriate support for the internal organs.

 

Until recently, we assumed women who experience diastasis recti had more low back pain and more urine leakage. This would seem to make sense due to reduced stability through their trunk. However, more recent studies have shown that women who have diastasis do NOT have a higher prevalence of lumbopelvic pain at six months postpartum! While this is great news, it also highlights the amount of misinformation out there! A woman with a small gap and poor tension may experience more problematic symptoms than a woman with a large gap and good tension!

How do you reduce your risk of diastasis recti?

This is a difficult question to answer, but one that I get asked all the time. There’s still no clear reason why certain women experience more severe cases of diastasis recti than others.

Currently, medical professionals believe there could be a larger genetic component than previously thought. Some also argue that women who exercise regularly have a reduced risk of severe diastasis recti. It is possible that this is the case, as exercise would make the muscles stronger and more likely to handle the pressure from a growing uterus.  She likely has more developed brain pathways to her core muscles contributing to the ability to create good tension in the abdomen even where there is a gap. Though, this isn’t for certain –  there are plenty of women who work out and still experience more severe cases of diastasis recti. Due to the poor quality of available literature, we can’t suggest that any specific exercises may or may not help to prevent or reduce diastasis during antenatal and postnatal periods.

How do you manage diastasis recti?

In general, diastasis recti is not a contraindication for exercise; however, when a woman’s diastasis is severe (in width, softness, or lack of tension), she should work with her pelvic floor physiotherapist to determine how to modify her training program.

 

A small diastasis with good tension can be managed by a fitness professional with a pre and postnatal coaching designation. It is important to avoid exercises that cause bulging or doming in the abdomen at the linea alba. This includes planks and sit-ups; but, the only way to know for sure is to closely monitor the abdomen for these symptoms during various exercises. Your trainer can check to see if the linea alba creates better tension with different cues and different positions.

 

For a smaller diastasis and good tension, begin with isolated core muscle contractions immediately. This helps you ascertain what muscles develop tension in the linea alba. By doing so,  you work on developing the pathways from the brain, to those deeper core muscles through repetition. Working on the connection-breath helps your pelvic floor–and–core work together. Inhale and relax the pelvic floor and core musculature, exhale and contract the core while lifting the pelvic floor. Letting go, and relaxing the pelvic floor is just as important as being able to contract!

Listen to your body.

Once you are able to engage and relax your core on cue, you are ready to move on to co-recruitment exercises. In other words, you can integrate core activation into functional movements. Always monitor what’s happening in the abdomen during each movement to determine which exercises are going to work for you! Never do more than you can manage and always listen to your body. If you have urine leaks, pain, or the feeling of excessive pressure on the pelvic floor or on the abdominal wall make sure to consult with a professional.

Be easy on yourself.

Remember that it takes time for your body to recover from pregnancy and giving birth. Give yourself permission for this to be a journey with ups and downs. With time and hard work, you will regain functional use of your muscles, and even make them stronger than before.

 

Struggling with diastasis recti and need personal support? Let me help you create an exercise routine and plan geared specifically to you and your needs!


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