Ep. 141: Adapting the Pillars of Health for Pregnancy

Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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On today's episode, I'm chatting with revere interviewer Rachel about how to adapt the Fed & Fit Pillars of Health for pregnancy!

Fed and Fit podcast graphic, episode 141 adapting the pillars of health for pregnancy with Cassy Joy

We're back with our 141st episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 141 Transcription

Today’s show is brought to you by Real Life Baby! Real Life Baby is a fabulous online resource where you will find a variety of tips on baby and toddler well-being in addition to the most thoughtfully sourced baby gear eco shop. Real Life Baby is a great resource for parents looking to surround their little ones with the safest, most nurturing materials available.

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. My name is Cassy Joy Garcia. I am your host. And this is the weekly 30-minute food, fitness, and mindset show. Mostly we talk about the last one. But occasional the others sprinkle in. And today is another reverse interview, where a Fed and Fit listener or reader has written in with a great question and invite them to come on the show so we can have a conversation about it.

So today I am joined by Rachel. She’s from Durham, North Carolina, where she is an administrative assistant. Welcome to the show, Rachel!

Rachel: Thanks Cassy! I’m so excited to be talking to you.

Cassy Joy: Likewise.

Rachel: So I just wanted to give a little bit of background about myself. I guess mostly my health history before I jump into some questions.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Rachel: So a few years ago, experiencing a lot of digestive issues. Nothing serious enough to really draw attention for running testing, but just enough to feel like something was off. So my primary care doctor at that time just kind of labeled it IBS but didn’t really give me any helpful suggestions. Just kind of left it at that. So I just began exploring on my own, and I wanted to figure out if there were more solutions.

So I started off with a Whole30, and that really opened my eyes to cutting out processed foods and just changing the way I was eating. But I was still experiencing some issues after that. So I kind of went to a different doctor. I took a food sensitivity test. I eliminated a long list of foods for the next 6 months a year. A lot of those overlap with kind of a paleo template but included some random vegetables and fruits as well. So it was pretty restrictive for a little bit. Slowly reintroduced stuff.

I was experiencing some headaches, as well. So I started to see an acupuncturist who had specialized in Chinese medicine. I was still having, as well, a few more digestive issues. So he said I probably had leaky gut. So I did a month on AIP as well as some supplements to kind of help heal my gut.

So I feel like right now I’ve kind of stabilized out. Mostly following a paleo template, but I do eat some gluten free grains. The main things that I’m still sensitive to are gluten and soy. So I’m pretty careful about those. But through the whole journey, I came across the Balanced Bites podcast, and then listening to them I heard about you, Cassy, and started listening to your podcast as well. So just kind of opened my mind to beyond just eliminating foods, to also thinking about quality nutritious foods. So, that’s kind of how I got on this journey.

But the main reason I wrote in is that I recently found out that I’m pregnant. I’m super excited. I’m only 6 weeks along. And I really enjoyed following your pregnancy experience, too, on social media and hearing about it sprinkled in through podcasts and stuff. I just have some questions related to that and thought that you’d be a great resource since you're months ahead of me, and trying to figure this stuff out, probably, too.

My first question has to do with snacking. I used to be a really big snacker, and always a mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, and was prone to getting hangry. So I got your book, the Fed and Fit book earlier this year. And that’s where I read where you were writing about not snacking so that your body could really have time to rest in between meals. So that kind of set off a lightbulb. I weaned myself off of snacking so much, and I really did feel like it helped me jut not be hungry all the time.

But now that I’m pregnant, I’m wondering if I should alter that at all? Because a lot of things that I’m reading; which, granted, aren’t from a paleo perspective. They mention eating snacks especially to help with morning sickness in the first trimester. Even my mom said when she was pregnant, she just ate saltine crackers all the time. Which I can’t do, being gluten free. But I was just wondering what you’ve been doing. If it alters at all, or if you just kind of stay the same eating as before. Just kind of wanted your feedback on that.

Cassy Joy: Oh my gosh. Well number one, congratulations!

Rachel: Thank you.

Cassy Joy: That’s so exciting. When Rachel and I were exchanging email, in case any of the listeners here are like; oh my gosh, I can’t believe you're airing this so quickly! I’m saving this episode so that Rachel has the opportunity to tell all of her friends and family first. {laughing}

Rachel: Yes.

Cassy Joy: But I wanted to make sure that she was able to come on the show and we could chat as soon as possible. So, probably by the time this airs, gosh, you’ll be another couple of months in, if not more.

Rachel: Great. Yeah.

Cassy Joy: So that’s exciting. Goodness, such a great question. And I’m really excited to talk about it. Because it’s something that I’ve been wanting to address. But it’s such a difficult thing to address in a little caption on Instagram. {laughs}

So this is great. When I wrote the Fed and Fit book, I wrote it for, I would see what would be considered the typical person. Right? Somebody just looking for general health and wellness. Not necessarily; now there are tidbits that I think everybody can get from that. For example, the no snacking. That’s something that most people can benefit from. With always a footnote, right? Of, unless you're XYZ. And one of those would definitely be, unless your pregnant.

So that’s why I’m thrilled to talk about it. The pregnant body; it’s so interesting. I’m almost at 30 weeks now, which is incredible how fast it flies by. I’m sure you’ve had people tell you that already. But goodness, gracious, it really does. At 30 weeks, I’m more, and more, and more affirmed. There was a side of me, of course, that studied it from a nutrition perspective. From a holistic perspective, right? Study the body and what it goes through. And you realize that the body chemistry of a pregnant woman; it just essentially completely changes. And that’s why you’ll get a lot of those symptoms, especially in the first trimester, while chemistry is changing. A lot of that is hormonal based.

And then as you go, there are of course physical changes that your body goes through as well as the relaxin hormone starts to soften some of the joints, and your pelvis shifts. But the chemical changes also has a huge impact metabolically, right? On how our body processes certain things. And from a practitioner, like from a holistic nutrition standpoint, looking at it it makes sense that the pregnant woman would need to eat A) probably more carbohydrates than she was at first. Especially the paleo pregnant woman. Right? Especially in the form of fruit. So getting in a good amount of fructose is really great. And healthy fats are, of course, really important. Healthy proteins. All of the macros. All of those categories are really important. But probably increasing a little bit on the fruit side.

And then especially during that first trimester. I don’t know; have you started experiencing any morning sickness or any other symptoms?

Rachel: Yeah. I haven’t really had morning sickness, per se, but just this weird queasy feeling where food doesn’t seem as appealing. Like the idea of it. I’m still eating ok. The process of eating is fine. But thinking about it in between just doesn’t really seem as appealing. And just also some fatigue as well.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, got it. I definitely experienced the fatigue. I actually was able to squeak by without any morning sickness. There was no nausea that I experienced. Which could happen. And there’s maybe some people who are listening who are nodding their heads. Or maybe one day they will experience one or the other. I went through migraines essentially for the entire first trimester. That’s just kind of how my body responded to the major shift in chemistry. So everybody’s body is going to be different. But that’s interesting.

So really at the root of all of this; I’m going to give some specific recommendations. But at the root of all of this, I think it’s really important for pregnant women, and all people, to listen to their bodies. And that sounds so foo-foo. But pay attention. Pay attention to your cravings. If you are craving carbs, if you're craving crackers and pasta and things like that, your body probably need some more really good, healthy carbohydrates. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to dive headfirst into an endless pasta night at the Olive Garden. Because that comes with other things. We might think; oh gosh, but I’m craving fettuccine alfredo! {laughs} Our body’s craving on a nutritional base probably aren’t that specific. They’re probably more geared towards just a food group in general.

So if you're craving that, maybe try to have a nice giant baked potato. Something along those lines. So I would indulge cravings in that regard. Pay attention to your body, because it’s going to tell you what it really needs in order to prepare and become as healthy as it needs to be in order to support that sweet little life. So I would say listen to your body. If your body is telling you that you need a little snack or you need something to get through the day, then go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t necessarily set an alarm on my phone during the day. Like; oh, it’s 3 p.m., it’s time for a snack. Or it’s 10:30 a.m., it’s between meals, it’s time for a snack. But I will say that in just kind of relaxing and allowing my body.

Because, I know you know this; but another reason why pregnancy is so different is our priorities are different. We’re supporting our healthy body, not because we have necessarily personal health goals, but because we’re trying to support the health of our babies. Right? So any kind of self-centered health goal. Not that it goes out the window, but it becomes lower on the priority list, than “What decisions can I make that are going to support my baby the best?” And part of that is also, of course, taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of our baby.

I would say, I started snacking more. I started eating more fruit, and I started gaining weight. And all of those things are good. I haven’t gained an excessive amount by any stretch of the imagination. But in that first trimester, it just feels like you're gaining weight. At least it did for me. Because it’s not exactly popping out in a belly; your body is just settling and adding on water weight and adding on some really good healthy fats and stores and things like that. So I’m kind of talking all around your question, but I hope that’s helpful.

Rachel: Yeah, that is.

Cassy Joy: I’m definitely pro snacking during pregnancy, if you think that that’s something you need. And if you are strictly gluten free, soy free, and you're trying to avoid those things. I’ve heard those same stories. All I could keep down was sprite and saltine crackers. I’ve heard that too. And during those really bad migraine days, to be honest, because I wasn’t thinking clearly. If I had had saltines in the house, I probably would have eaten them and they would have made things worse, you know? Because gluten is one of my triggers as well.

So one thing that I had to do was make sure that I was surrounded by snacks that weren’t going to make matters worse for me. But that were still some kind of sustenance. So gluten free seed crackers, those kinds of things I kept on hand that I could just grab and go. I did not prepare freezer meals like I have been doing now for when baby comes. But that would have been a really good thing to just kind of have on hand in case you really are not feeling up to cooking. You’ve got something, maybe soups, things like that that you can maybe rely upon.

Making sure you're getting in essentially all of the really wonderful, healthy foods that you probably were following and stressing on a paleo type template. Those are all still just as important now, right? Good sources of liver. Really good grass-fed pastured proteins. Organic produce. Especially the kind where you eat the skin. All of those things are really important. Lots, and lots of water.

And then on days where you're like; I just can’t! I just cannot get up and make myself kale. {laughs} It’s just not going to happen. It doesn’t sound good, it doesn’t feel good. That’s ok, too. Just eat some sort of a snack, even if it’s a dried good, that just helps you get through to the next day. Because that phase will pass.

Rachel: Thanks. That’s really helpful. And what you were saying about cravings is interesting. I feel like I’ve been craving sweet things. Like sugar or chocolate. But I guess maybe if I could just substitute and eat more fruit, maybe that would fulfil that craving, I don’t know.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. That’s a good way to go. Fruit is a good way to go. You know what I started doing, Rachel; I just started going to the grocery story and I stocked the heck up on fruit. I mean, before that I would usually just have berries in the house. But I’ve started keeping, because I would get bored of berries. {laughs} Berry-boredom. So I just started having whatever I could find on hand. I have an abundance of apples; gosh, what’s in season now? There are peaches back then, all of the tropical fruits. Just stock a nice variety of fruits and try to make it a point that you go through them at the end of the week. But that could definitely help a lot.

Rachel: Yeah. And next, I’ve been reading about how important calcium is. And I know all the vitamins and nutrients are, but calcium in particular I was wondering if I should increase my dairy intake to make sure I’m getting enough calcium? I mostly tolerate, like cheese or yogurt. I don’t typically just drink milk by itself. So if I can tolerate it, I didn’t know if I should be including more of it during this time. I just wanted your feedback on that.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, great, great question. One of the best sources of calcium is actually kale.

Rachel: Oh, ok.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} And that’s one; there’s a lot of reasons I like kale for breakfast. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. But one of them is because in some ways when I was first getting started eating this way, I thought of that pile of lemony kale as kind of a substitute for the glass of milk that I grew up with. You know? So there is. There’s a lot of calcium available in kale. There’s a lot of calcium available in sardines. Have you dabbled in sardines yet?

Rachel: I haven’t.

Cassy Joy: Ok. It sounds so weird. But there’s a recipe in the book for a curried sardine salad. And it may sound so bizarre, but you top it wit jicama, which kind of has an apple-like texture. And you put some curry powder in there, and it is so delicious and I have now gotten to the point where I enjoy sardines. But that salad masks it. Curry is designed to mask some things {laughs}. So that one might work for you. But that’s an option.

Gosh, there are a lot. I think yogurt is a great way to go. I, too, eat the occasional sheep’s milk yogurt is one that I really enjoy. The occasional cheese that works, as well. So a lot of the cruciferous vegetables in general. There’s kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower. A lot of those are really good sources of calcium. A lot of fish. Is that helpful?

Rachel: Yeah, that is. I actually do make your lemony kale recipe for most breakfasts.

Cassy Joy: Oh good! You're getting a good dose, then.

Rachel: Ok, great. {laughs} That’s awesome.

Cassy Joy: I think this is a great spot to stop and hear from one of our sponsors.

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Rachel: So I was also wondering, besides taking a prenatal vitamin, do you personally supplement with anything additional? I’ve heard cod liver oil, or DHA supplement. I just wasn’t sure what I needed to prioritize.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. Really good question. You know, I used to take fermented cod liver oil. And I stopped mostly because I got to the point where if I can get it from real food, I’m going to try to do that instead. Even in fermented cod liver oil, as pure and as unadulterated as it sounds in terms of processing, it’s still somewhat of a processed food. And so I made it a point to start eating more sardines, cold water fish for example, to kind of help replace that. So if that’s something that you're curious about, it’s worth looking into and doing a little more digging. I might do a whole episode, in fact, on fish oil. Because there’s a lot of different literature coming out that is very polarizing.

The prenatal that I take has fish oil in it. I kind of wish it didn’t. Just because I don’t know where they’re getting it from. But yeah, I do take that. I take my prenatal; it’s got fish oil in it. It does not have iron in it; that’s the only thing my prenatal is missing. So I have to take an extra iron supplement, just because us as pregnant women, we’re really prone to becoming anemic. And then I take; goodness, what else. Desiccated liver. {laughs} Because, gosh, I’m trying, but it’s really hard to like liver. So the day that I really start enjoying it. Ideally, I would eat a serving of liver at least once a week. So until them, I’m going to keep up with desiccated liver pills. But that’s about it.

When I travel, I will try to take a magnesium supplement. Magnesium citrate. And then I also; gosh, sorry this is all scattered. I don’t have these thoughts organized. And then I also take a collagen peptides. So the Vital Proteins. And that’s really to support; of course it’s meant to support healthy baby, but it also helps our bodies really be able to support baby in terms of our skin, our hair, our nails. Because as she or he is pulling nutrients from our bodies, we need to be really on top of replenishing as much as possible. So that’s one thing that I do.

So yeah, between the collagen, the magnesium when I travel, because sometimes it’s hard to get those kinds of foods out. The liver, especially when I travel, and then the prenatals. That’s about it. And then I try to think about the rest of it coming from food. Placing a big emphasis on really colorful fruits and vegetables. Especially cooked leafy greens. Really good, healthy proteins that are from really wonderful sources. And then plenty of varied starches. And that’s been true, pregnant or not. We want to keep our food sources as variable as possible, rotate as many in as we can. But purple sweet potatoes, yellow ones, white ones. Squash, butternut squash, kabocha squash. I think that’s how you say. You know, all the different plantains, beets. All the different foods under the rainbow is kind of how I think of it, as like a chewable vitamin.

Rachel: Yeah. And the desiccated liver, does that fulfil your iron needs?

Cassy Joy: Well, no. Unfortunately, liver; the one that I had. I actually studied it this morning. It has about 4% of your recommended daily value of iron. And I honestly don’t take it every day. Just, I’m trying to sprinkle it in every once in a while. For the iron supplement, I had to just go buy a regular old plain jane iron supplement. And I drink it with orange juice. Because the vitamin C really helps the body assimilate some of it. I can’t take it on an empty stomach because it makes me really sick. So anyway. It’s a very weird thing. I have to take iron with a glass of orange juice before I go to bed so I can sleep through the nausea. {laughs}

Rachel: Yeah. Do you mind sharing which brand of prenatal you take?

Cassy Joy: I don’t mind at all. I take Smarty Pants. The little gummy prenatal vitamins. It has a really good form of methylated folate. So essentially it’s already bioavailable and ready to be used. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you have any sort of a gene mutation that would prevent you from metabolizing folic acid. It’s already ready to go.

Rachel: Thanks, that’s helpful. I guess moving to another area, I know hydration is one of your pillars of health. Since I started reading your book, I’ve really been trying to focus on tracking my water and drinking enough of it. But for some reason right now it doesn’t seem very appealing to me. I don’t know why, because I didn’t have a problem before. But I think just that queasy feeling. I’m kind of struggling more than I was before to get enough water. I just wondered if you had any suggestions to make it more appealing. And if I should actually be increasing how much water I’m drinking during pregnancy.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, great question. And you know what; when your body is ready for more water, it will tell you.

Rachel: OK.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Trust it. You're going to wake up one day and think; oh my goodness, I am thirsty! {laughs} And some days I’ve had those and some days I haven’t. I would say, I kind of went through that as well and I had to start mixing up different ways to make water palatable. You're in North Carolina, so you don’t have the grocery store I was about to mention. But there’s a grocery store chain in Texas called HEB. Whole Foods has these, as well. But HEB also carries it. So for my Texas listeners, go to HEB and get fresh squeezed lemon juice and lime juice in a bottle from the produce section. It is life changing. Those little bottles of lemon juice that are not refrigerated; those are not the way to go. But they have really fresh stuff.

I would always have one of those on hand, whether lemon or lime. And Whole Foods also sells them. Or you could just, of course, buy lemons and limes. But I would have that just for ease. And I would either mix that right in with water, just to kind of help make some kind of a lemonade or something a little bit different. A little bit interesting, so I’m more excited about drinking it. Or I would pour it in with sparkling water. That kind of helps make a little fizzy drink.

I’m currently sipping on, looking at it right now, tart cherry juice with sparkling water. So it creates kind of like a cherry soda; a tart cherry soda. So that’s really fun. I don’t want to add fruit juices to all of my drinks. I try to; I probably average about one a day. But when you're looking for just a way to make it more interesting, that would be a way to go.

Broths might be an option. Making sure you're getting in some really good minerals with those. That would be the way to go. It’s a little bit more interesting. And then teas; in the form of ginger would be really helpful. Ginger tea. Traditional Medicinals is one of my favorite brands. And they have a great ginger tea that I like to have at the end of the night. And if I have not already had my collagen for the day, I will make myself a little ginger tea with a scoop of collagen and at least half of a lemon’s juice, and it’s really delicious. Break up the monotony of water.

Rachel: Yeah, thanks. That’s really helpful.

Cassy Joy: Good.

Rachel: So I guess my last question would be regarding one of your other pillars of fitness. So to be honest, this has consistently been my area of weakness. Over the past few years I’ve done things like Zumba, or I go through spurts where I workout consistently. Running, or the elliptical. And then something throws me off and I’ll get off the schedule. So basically the only thing I’ve done consistently is walking, because we have two small dogs. So I’ll walk them in the morning and evening, so problem a total of 30-40 minutes per day.

I know it’s important to be active during pregnancy. But I’m also a little afraid to do something intense like Zumba if I wasn’t doing it consistently before. And I also know that strength training is important, but it’s also something I wasn’t doing super regularly. So I just wasn’t sure if you had suggestions for someone like me who is only moderately active, just to make sure I’m incorporating it but not stressing my body.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. Great question. So, this makes me want to do a fitness series, maybe for the blog, for pregnancy. Because I think that there are some movements that we can talk about and highlight. I would say, priority number one, if you're going into pregnancy; because that’s what they say. Whatever you had before, keep up with. That’s the safe advice that your doctor probably told you. Or will tell you. And although that’s good advice, it’s not great advice. Because there’s always some exceptions to the rule.

If maybe you were; I’m going to say this to the extreme case where we have different listeners. If you're an extreme athlete, it may be worth considering dialing a few things back. Not all the way down, but adjusting your workout so we’re not hurting our bodies while our bodies are more relaxed and as muscles and tissues are moving around. So, it does take a little strategic thinking.

So if you're on the extreme side of athleticism, I would say it’s going in and essentially working through the movements of a workout is the important thing to do. Not necessarily be in it to win it, but go at what you would consider to be maybe a 60% effort until that feels like; if that ever feels like too much or you're too winded, then dialing it back.

This is just a very brief nutshell. I recommend listening to the podcast, anybody dialing in now, that I recorded with Briana Battles recently on pregnancy, mindset, and fitness. She is a fitness trainer that specializes in pregnancy and postpartum, so that’s a really great reference point.

But in your case, I would say one thing to place a priority on is I would definitely keep up with those walks, and make those, as much as you can, somewhat of a non-negotiable. And maybe even lengthen them a little bit; lengthen those walks as you feel fine. That kind of movement is really good for the pregnant body. It’s not that we need to go out there and run a marathon, or win awards, or have any personal bests. But moving and staying active and making sure we’re focusing on our posture and we’re really nurturing a healthy, overall skeletal system is really going to help us in the long run. Plus the activity and all the good hormones that come from that really do benefit baby as well.

So, I would say maybe try walking 30 minutes, 45 minutes. Up it a little bit. And then as you feel good, or different, then maintain that. Increase it if you feel like; gosh, I really just want to keep going today. Then that would be great.

And then for extra movements that maybe you weren’t doing before, but won’t necessarily hurt you, squats are actually a really good movement for pregnant women. They’re one of the few that are out there. So if you're really feeling like you want to do something a little bit extra to kind of help in terms of a body weight activity, but that moves the joints a little bit differently. Then that might be something; some air squats you can do, 5 to 10 a day. Nothing crazy. And then make sure you're giving yourself at least two full days of rest a week.

A walk I would consider to be fine on a rest day, especially if it’s more of a leisurely stroll than a speed walk. I don’t know how motivated your puppies are. {laughs}

Rachel: {laughs} Not super fast.

Cassy Joy: Ok. When I walk Gus, our Great Pyrenes, it is, by no stretch of the imagine, a speed walk. {laughs} We might cover the same amount of ground as you guys, but it takes us a whole hour. So that would be fine on a rest day, as well. But those kinds of body weight workouts are going to be great. You know? Or maybe some backwards dips where you’re pushing off of a bench. Nothing that really causes you to overengage our core. And that’s something that Briana is going to talk about very specifically, about how to make sure that we’re maintaining core health.

But if you're not going into the gym and you're not having to modify sit-ups or kipping pullups, then I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that. You're going to be fine with squats, walking, dips, I’m sure I think of more activities as soon as we get off the phone. But that would be a good starting point. And I will; I’m going to work on a series for essentially just a very low impact workout routine for pregnancy that we can get up on the blog.

Rachel: Yeah, that would be great.

Cassy Joy: Awesome. Maybe it will come out the same time this podcast does! {laughs}

Rachel: {laughs} Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Well wonderful! I hope that was helpful.

Rachel: Yeah, that was super helpful. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

Cassy Joy: Oh, good. It is so my pleasure, Rachel. Congratulations on this incredible blessing.

Rachel: Thank you.

Cassy Joy: You're just glowing through the phone. I can just tell how excited you are. And I hope that you keep feeling great. You’ve got such a good head on your shoulders. That is one lucky baby to have you as her mama. Or his mama. I’m biased towards the girls, because that’s what I’m having.

But anyway. I wish you the best. Keep me posted on everything. And for everybody listening, if you have more questions that stem from today’s episode, please head over to the blog and leave them in a comment. And we’ll be sure to incorporate that in possibly future podcast episodes.

And then as always, we’ll have a full transcript there on the blog. You can find us in iTunes, leave us a review. Recommend us to your friends and encourage them to go subscribe. That helps the show get into more hands in the future. Thanks, Rachel, for joining us. Everybody else, we’ll be back again next week.


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  1. Katie says:

    This podcast is just what I needed to hear yesterday! I am in my second trimester and have been struggling with the snacks issue (I haven’t needed snacks in over a year between meals). It was so reassuring to hear your thoughts on the topic! Thank you so much 🙂