As with every sport, fueling yourself properly is important in the world of gymnastics, but Olympic gold medal winner Shawn Johnson East says finding the right balance (no pun intended) that worked for her was a years-long journey.
“My relationship with food has evolved over the years,” she says. “I was on a restrictive diet for such a long time—so much so that I took it to the extreme and developed an eating disorder.” As part of her recovery, she started working with a nutritionist and found it so meaningful that she actually decided to study nutrition herself. “I’ve tried all the fad diets—raw food, keto, counting macros—and where I ended up with is, ‘everything in moderation,'” East says.
Currently pregnant with her second child (she already has a toddler), East says her relationship with food as evolved yet again; after all, she’s eating for two these days. “I feared that with pregnancy, I’d have a hard time nourishing my body, but I actually love it,” she says. “As soon as I became pregnant, I was like, ‘You know what, this is no longer just about me. It’s about my baby.'”
She says she eats when she’s hungry and if she’s craving something, she’ll have it. “When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved watermelon constantly. But this time, I’m pregnant while also the mom of a toddler, so I feel like I don’t have time for cravings,” East says. “I often just end up eating what she’s eating, like fruit and yogurt.” Want to see what that really looks like? Here, East shares what an average day of eating looks like for her.
Keep reading to see what Shawn Johnson East eats on an average day, while pregnant.
East says breakfast is her absolute favorite meal of the day. “I could eat breakfast for every meal,” she says. But she’s also a creature of routine and says she tends to alternate between the same handful of morning meals. One of her favorites is a homemade breakfast sandwich made with an English muffin, egg, and cheese. “I also like having a gluten-free English muffin with cashew butter and strawberry jam,” she says. “Try it—it will change your life.”
Watch the video below to see why one nutritionist calls eggs a “nutritional goldmine”:
As the parent of a toddler, East says her fridge is full of ready-to-eat snacks. Open her fridge and East says you’ll find cut-up raw veggies, fruit cups, and yogurt. In her pantry, East stays stocked up on snack bars—easy to eat on the go. “Often for a snack, I’ll grab a handful of berries and add it to yogurt,” she says.
Right now, she says her favorite yogurt is Harmless Harvest coconut yogurt ($1.52), which she is a spokesperson for, a relationship that she says happened organically. “I posted on social media that my daughter is lactose intolerant and she loves dairy, so I’d been desperately trying to find a good non-dairy yogurt. I randomly came across Harmless Harvest’s and it’s really good!” After she shared about it on social media, the brand approached her for a partnership. “It’s creamy and full of healthy fats. I don’t feel like I’m being cheated,” she says.
When lunchtime rolls around, East whips up a classic mid-day meal: a sandwich. “We do a lot of cooked sandwiches, often with fresh sourdough bread,” she says. East says that she and her daughter both like grilled cheese with chicken or ham, with some fruit or veggies on the side.
If East gets hungry between lunch and dinner, she munches on trail mix—another snack her daughter loves, too. She likes to make it herself, mixing almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips. “It’s not fancy—it’s really just mixing nuts,” she says. Another snack she and her daughter both love is pretzels with hummus. Just like trail mix, it has enough protein to be a truly satiating afternoon snack.
As with many families, East says dinner is the wildcard meal in their house, but it tends to follow a standard formula of a protein, carb, and veggie. “One of my favorite dinners is roasted salmon with broccoli and rice,” she says. Another dinner that’s popular at her house is steak, sweet potatoes, and roasted veggies.
East says she wasn’t always a dessert person, but she turned into one the last couple years. “My go-to is yogurt-covered pretzels,” she says. “The yogurt is really more like icing—that’s exactly what it tastes like.” She also has a sweet spot (literally) for cookies hot from the oven.
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