Today we have a follow-up chat with eMeals Clean Eating meal plan writer Ashley Strickland Freeman. Last May, we spoke with her a few weeks before the birth of her son. We wanted to check in with this new mom a year later to get her tips for staying healthy during pregnancy and how to curb those pesky cravings. Ashley also shares how her newly expanded family stays on track with a Clean Eating lifestyle. Read on to find out.
What are the best clean foods to eat when suffering from morning sickness (especially when you’re sick all day)?
Some women are lucky and feel great throughout their pregnancy. I was not one of them: I suffered from morning sickness (in the afternoon/evening) from about week 6 to week 16. I learned very quickly that the best way to fight my morning sickness was to not allow myself to get hungry. Even though it seemed counter intuitive to eat when I felt nauseous, I immediately felt better after I got something in my stomach. I carried around a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my purse and popped a bite or two when a wave of nausea hit. The jelly was not necessarily clean, but I ate whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter, and didn’t worry about processed sugar from the jelly because, hey, at least I was able to eat something.
Another concern of mine was not getting enough calories in the form of healthy foods during this time, so smoothies were a great way to pack in fruits and veggies. In addition to yogurt, Kefir, and fruit, I would throw in a handful of spinach or kale.
Related Article: Check out our top 10 smoothies and smoothie bowls here!
What are your best tips for staying on track for those who are pregnant?
Keep healthy, clean eating-approved food around so you aren’t tempted to make a pit stop at the drive-thru on the way home (although I did that sometimes).
Prep ahead whenever possible, and don’t be afraid to use healthy convenience items. Stir-fries, whole wheat pasta dishes and other one dish meals are great for weekday meals.
Did you beat yourself up when you “fell off the wagon”? And is “falling off the wagon” okay? I feel like so many women struggle with this. I mean, it’s logical that you’re going to have cravings, right?
No, I didn’t beat myself up when I “fell off the wagon.” I believe it’s all about balance. If you have a craving for a McDonald’s hot fudge sundae—I may be speaking from experience ;)—I think it’s okay to give in. Just don’t have one every day. I did have some weird cravings—hot dogs, for one. I didn’t give in to that craving because of the nitrates doctors warn you about. I also wanted tuna fish something fierce, but knew that the mercury could be harmful for the baby, so I held off.
For other cravings, I would allow myself a little ice cream or French fries because I knew I would likely overeat something else to try and satisfy the craving.
Knowing you’re going to splurge or cheat, what are the clean foods to focus on?
What about hydration and pregnancy? Do you need more water? Is one beverage more optimal than another?
Oh man, I was thirsty all the time. I bought one of those “Bubba-sized” cups with a built-in straw and drank water around the clock. I also found it kept my nausea at bay. For me, water was what I wanted. Occasionally, I would have lemonade, but I tried stayed away from anything with caffeine and sugary drinks.
What were some of your favorite clean foods when you were pregnant? What were some of your favorite eMeals clean recipes to eat while pregnant?
I craved barbecued chicken or barbecued pork chops. (This is a great clean eating-approved bbq sauce.) I ate a lot of salads too—Mediterranean Farro Salad and Grilled Chicken, Corn, and Avocado Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette were favorites.
What about clean snacks vs. all those tempting snack that aren’t so good for you? Anything that feels indulgent but is good for you?
Have lots of healthy snacks on-hand. For me, fruit, fruit leathers, cheese with whole-grain crackers and yogurt were favorites—especially since I am lactose intolerant and as soon as I became pregnant I could eat dairy again.
Now that you have a little one, do you find it harder to eat clean? Do you have any tips for how to eat clean every day?
Yes, absolutely. But, I am even more aware of what we eat now because it is what our little guy eats too. There are healthy convenience items available at the store, and they are my best friends. Frozen organic fruits and vegetables make preparing homemade baby food a cinch. We also get a CSA produce box every 2 weeks, so we automatically have organic produce in the refrigerator.
My biggest tip would be to plan ahead. Even setting aside 30 minutes or so on the weekend to plan the week is a huge help. Rotisserie chicken is also a lifesaver. When you have a crazy day, chicken by itself, shredded in some tacos, on top of a salad, the list goes on, plus some sautéed vegetables, makes an easy meal.
Another tip: make extra for leftovers.
Any tips for getting toddlers to eat clean once they transition to more solid foods?
Thankfully our son is a great eater, so we haven’t had trouble with getting him to try new foods—he tries everything we give him and often scarfs it down. I make all of his food because I know there are no preservatives or sugars added. We started with pureed veggies and then transitioned to fruit so he wouldn’t get a sweet tooth. Once some teeth came in, we started with soft finger foods. Now at 10 months, he eats whatever my husband and I eat (if it’s not spicy, fried, etc.). He’s become a clean eater just like us.
Ashley Strickland Freeman is a freelance author, editor, and food stylist, and the writer of the eMeals Clean Eating plans. She grew up in Savannah, Georgia, and realized her passion for food and cooking at a very young age. Ashley is the author of two books and editor of over 40 publications. Her marriage to a marine biologist took her to Fort Pierce, Florida, where she is currently based. Besides editing, developing recipes, and creating content for her blog, The GastroNomad, she loves being a new mom to son Anderson and traveling with her husband.