Paleo Pregnancy: first trimester

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 03, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Hi fellow paleoites :)

I started Paleo a few months ago because I was fed up with my 1400 calorie a day diet full of "healthy" whole grains and low fat dairy. I didn't feel too great, and was not seeing the results I was hoping for.

I found out about Paleo, and for the past few months have been really strict. No cheating - no feeling hungry, just a slight bit of "carb flu", but over all feeling good and having clean energy.

A few weeks ago I found out I was preggo (yay!) and this is my second pregnancy. I have an insanely active almost three year old, so eating well and having enough energy to tackle graduate school while keeping up with the girl gossip and toddler play dates is a must (Hello - Paleo!).

Anyway, my problem is since I found out I am preggo, EVERYTHING paleo makes me feel...squeamish. I do not cheat necessarily, but I am having a hard time eating things like greens, eggs, and meat. Instead, I live off home-made almond milk, fresh fruit, and juiced veggies via my juicer. I am essentially drinking most of my calories and not really eating a balanced "paleo" diet. I do not want to revert to carb-filled meals like bread, but I am unsure if I should simply do Paleo part time until the morning sickness eases off? I remember with my first pregnancy that the morning sickness eased up a lot around 14 weeks, so in this regard, I have about 8...(gulp) weeks to look forward. Even the smell of meat or eggs sends me running away! :(

Does anybody have any advice? What did you eat when you were pregnant and feeling the effects of morning sickness? I do not want to revert to my old eating habits in which I relied on lots of carbs for energy. I want a healthy pregnancy and to have the clean, good energy I was feeling until very recently.



on December 03, 2012
at 11:11 PM

Can you eat meat if they have a very strong marinade? Like lots of sherry or lemon juice, lots of chili paste, and lots of garlic? Marinade for 2 or 3 days and you won't be able to smell the meat. How about fish? Bone broth? Roast the bones in the oven first so there isn't a lot of meaty smell on the broth.



on December 03, 2012
at 11:10 PM

Many tips here, read the comments too: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/first-trimester-diet-liver-dosage-barefoot-running/

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9 Answers



on December 03, 2012
at 10:09 PM

There are a lot of different approaches to this. Some women forged ahead and claimed that their "perfect paleo" diet is what cured their morning sickness. Some other women would be critical of you if you diverged from the diet for a bit to get through the rough period. There are bloggers on paleo/primal parenting out there that I refuse to even read anymore because of how over the top critical and awful they are about their views on paleo pregnancy/weight gain/etc.

Me? I had gluten free grains during my first trimester. For both pregnancies. I felt so gosh darn awful, I couldn't stand the thought of much else. It got me through to week 11, when I started feeling better, and by week 15, I was back to a normal paleo plan.

Here's how I see it: pregnancy is not forever. It will end. If you look at the big picture of life, taking a few weeks to think "short-term" - ie, just get through the day however works best for you - then it's not a disaster. If drinking most of your calories is working for you, then do it. If eating a not super balanced diet right now is working for you, then do it. If you had a solid diet before and after your first trimester, those few weeks aren't going to make a huge difference.

I found that getting as much rest as possible, eating what I could when I could and staying hydrated got me through those first few weeks, and then you forget about it, trash the rest of your gluten free oats and move on with life.

And the biggest thing? CONGRATULATIONS!!! :-)



on December 03, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Congratulations! I am 21 weeks into my first pregnancy right now, and I also had food aversions, from super early, like 4 weeks to 10 weeks or so, I didn't want to smell any meat and did not want egg dishes. So I had a lot of potatoes with butter, I did lose some weight but I did what I could to get food in. I also had white rice, and thankfully did like greens, only if they were soaked in butter and salted up a lot.

Also, I started drinking organic OJ around week 8 and have kept that up as it has been making me feel awesome. I wasn't a big juice drinker before, but it has been a lifesaver, especially again now because I have had no appetite for the past 4 weeks or so. I also mix gelatin into it (a Ray Peat thing) to make sure I get ample protein (I put a straw in it and keep stirring it so it doesn't get clumpy). Even now I can only eat like 2-3 ounces of meat at a time (mostly due to the low appetite), so I hit the fats and starches and fruits, and it has made me really energetic, but without the kind of weight gain I thought would happen (mostly because I was avoiding heavy fruits and starches beforehand).

Oh and I've even had gluten free oatmeal a few times with butter and maple syrup - probably once a week. It's been fine for me so I would just say eat what you can, and maybe try the gluten free grains like Sarah suggested, of which white rice and oatmeal have helped me out.



on December 03, 2012
at 10:40 PM

Congrats! Definitely listen to your body & here is a blog post that may be of help:



on September 10, 2013
at 11:15 PM

It's really normal to crave more carbs during pregnancy in fact your body may do it for a good reason. I wrote a guest post over on balanced bites that talks about the how's and why's of food aversion and nausea during pregnancy. Check it out CaveGirl Plus One Link



on May 01, 2013
at 06:54 PM

My wife is pregnant. She had been Paleo for almost a year leading up to the pregnancy, but she just couldn't stick with it on account of the aversions. At first, I encouraged her to continue to eat strictly Paleo, but after a while I abandoned that stance. Pregnancy is a strange thing. I'm confused about why pregnant women would be averse to things that ought to be good for them. Generally, evolution works it out such that you crave things that are nourishing and you're repulsed by things that might cause you harm. I don't know why that wouldn't apply to pregnant women. So my stance has basically become that pregnant women ought to listen to their bodies and cravings. If they don't feel they can down leafy greens and meat, they shouldn't (and as far as meat is concerned, there is ample evidence that too much protein during pregnancy could cause problems down the road, so maybe there's a reason women develop an aversion to it). I'd say that pregnant women ought to eat the most nutritious form of whatever they are craving, even if that means breaking from Paleo. That's worked for us. As my wife has moved along during the pregnancy she has become less averse to Paleo foods and is incorporating them into her diet more. But force-feeding foods that her body was telling her she shouldn't have didn't seem like a great move to either of us.


on May 01, 2013
at 03:12 PM


Odd food cravings and aversions are very normal. It's pretty normal to be meat adverse in the beginning of the pregnancy. It's believed that this helps prevent the fetus from being infected with parasites.

I lost 5 pounds during my first trimester. The only craving I had was lemon butter. I really didn't want food.

Try to get some protein with each meal. Fruit is your friend. I probably would have had a better time with the morning sickness if I hadn't been so carb phobic

Since you're coming off of a very low calorie diet, if you're not taking a prenatal vitamin I suggest doing so. You may be behind in some important stuff*

*I am not a doctor. Do not mistake this for medical advice.


on May 01, 2013
at 10:36 AM

I'm 7.5 weeks along now and understand your pain. I've been paleo for around 7 months now and carb fee for about 2 years and i swear in the last 5 weeks I've eaten more carbs than I have in the last 5 months. It's so hard because I want to be eating healthy for my bubs but I just feel so nauseated all day. It's crazy lots of people ask how I can eat paleo because they think it's boring but it's the complete opposite of that reason why I can't eat paleo now. It's too tasty and all my body wants is boring food like toast or rice. I've read lots of paleo pregnancy blog's and most people struggle but I think it's healthier for me to eat relatively health grains rather than survive solely on bananas and apple's. I'm just looking that in another 4 weeks I'll feel better and can get back to my paleo as well as maybe have the energy to get back into cross fit.


on January 15, 2013
at 12:26 AM

First off let me say congratulations!! I read an interesting article on Mommypotamus explaining that the real cause of morning sickness is due to a magnesium deficiency. It's a very interesting article and a great blog to peruse, here's the link: http://www.mommypotamus.com/the-real-cause-of-morning-sickness/



on December 04, 2012
at 04:27 AM

I definitely battled the nausea until week 16ish. I survived on fruit and coconut milk/fruit/avocado smoothies. The smell, or even the thought of meat and eggs made me ill. Sugary/carby things would make me nauseous an hour after eating them. I ate what I could, mostly in the form of smoothies, and it got better. I can't say I didn't ever break down and eat a loaf of bread or anything, but it got better, and by that week 16, I was eating like a champ. Listen to your body, and find whatever real foods work for you and eat them. Take your vitamins if you're not eating a perfectly balanced diet, and wait it out. It will get better!

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