6 Pregnancy Super Foods

Before you reach for the cookie jar, think of your growing baby and take a peek at these nutritious and delicious food ideas!

Pregnancy is an important time to think more carefully about what you’re eating, since these foods will be the main source of nutrients for your growing baby. Get off to a good start with these pregnancy super foods.

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/breakfast_fruit_yogurt_granola.jpg

photo credit: Doesn’t this make you hungry?!

1. Whole grains: Enriched, whole-grain breads and cereals are fortified with folic acid and iron and contain more fiber than white bread and rice. Some good ways to incorporate whole grains: Oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich on whole-grain bread at lunch, and whole-wheat pasta or brown rice for dinner. Add barley to soups for thickness and flavor. If you like to bake, use whole wheat, oat, rye, or spelt flour.

2. Beans: Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and key nutrients such as iron, folate, calcium, and zinc. There are lots to choose from: black beans, white beans, pinto beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, and kidney, garbanzo, or soy beans! Try them in chili and soups, salads, pasta and rice dishes.

3. Salmon: A great source of protein, B vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which promote brain development and vision in babies.  Try it grilled, broiled, or on a salad. Although salmon is relatively low in mercury compared to other fish, experts advise no more than 12 ounces of salmon per week.

4. Eggs: Eggs a good source of protein that provides amino acids you and your baby need, and contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline and lutein. They’re versatile too: Hard or soft boiled, sunny side up, omelets filled with veges and cheese, on a sandwich…  Just be sure not to eat undercooked or raw eggs.

5. Berries: Berries are bursting with vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries… they are a delicious snacks and taste great in pancakes, on top of cereal, in your yogurt. If you can’t get them fresh, look in the freezer section.

6. Low-fat yogurt: One cup of plain, low-fat yogurt contains more calcium than milk, and is high in protein. Avoid flavored yogurts for their high sugar content. Improve the taste with fruit, nuts, granola, or my personal favorite: date honey!

Training Children to Eat Well

What to feed an infant is pretty straightforward, and toddlers tend to eat whatever you give them, but as they grow up you may discover the frustrating phenomenon of picky eating. Nancy Piho, author of “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, warns: “It’s not always pretty!”

No, it’s not. Sometimes, it gets quite ugly.

As the proud (and somewhat harried) mother of a 3 year old and a 5 year old, it seems the only acceptable food choices are the Familiar and the Full-of-Sugar. Definitely not seeing any octopus in my future.

What is the secret to turning out the “good eaters?” Nancy Piho says that the key is to put firm and healthful eating habits in place from the beginning, and then stick to them, even when the going gets tough. Easier said than done? I don’t know, I’ll have to try it out on child number three.

http://chidiet.com/images/veg/kid-eating-veggies.jpg

photo: Dr. Ann Wigmore

But it’s never too late to try instilling good habits. Ms. Piho presents 8 good eating tips to implement in your home:

1. Sit down! Now is the time to teach your kids that meals play an important role in their day. Make breakfast, lunch and dinner a definite sit-down-to-eat occasion, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

2. Doesn’t this look good? Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Young children “eat with their eyes” just like adults do.

3. It’s a dinner, not a diner! That means, no short order cooking! From their earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.

4. Focus on the whole meal. If you’re serving chicken, peas and rice for dinner, then your child should have chicken, peas and rice on their plate, too. What if they scarf down the rice and want more? Make them wait until they have a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.

5. Spice it up. Don’t be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If it’s really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into their portion, so that they still get the flavor of the dish without the full effect of the heat.

6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If at first they dislike spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before a child will be accepting of it. Wait several days or weeks, but don’t drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.

7. Pour out the juice. Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: they are sweet to the taste. Don’t start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.

8. And nix the other kiddie products. If it’s a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are it’s going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.

In-law problems? Teenagers in the house? Annoyed with your spouse? Sex life need a pick-up? Find more good family advice on  Hitched.com.

Don’t Eat These Foods if you’re Pregnant!

Everything you eat and drink while you’re expecting influences your baby’s health.  Good choices are whole grains, lean meats, lots of fresh fruits and veges, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. As for the rest… well some foods are questionable, some are OK in moderation, and some are all-out no-no’s.

Here’s some “food for thought:” consider these guidelines before indulging in every pregnancy craving:

Raw or Undercooked Animal Products

These foods may contain an array of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  When cooking meat, chicken, and fish, it’s recommended to test the doneness with a food thermometer, cook eggs until they are no longer runny, and don’t eat raw dough. Here are some other things to watch out for:

  • rare meat
  • raw oysters
  • clams
  • sushi
  • unpasteurized eggs
  • raw cookie or cake dough
  • homemade eggnog

Hot Dogs, Cold Cuts, & Unpasteurized Dairy Foods

These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems. These include food such as:

  • hot dogs and
  • luncheon meats (deli ham or turkey, bologna, salami, etc)
  • refrigerated pates or meat spreads
  • refrigerated smoked seafood (such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel)– may be labeled “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.”
  • raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco, and queso Panela.

It’s safe to eat smoked seafood, lunch meants, and franks, when it’s part of a cooked dish (like in a casserole) or if you reheat them until they are steaming hot. Always wash your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces after handling raw meats, deli meats, etc.

Certain Seafood and Fish

Some large fish harbor high concentrations of mercury, a byproduct of coal-burning plants that interferes with the normal development of a child’s brain and nervous system.

  • Fish to avoid: swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel
  • Fish to eat in moderation (up to 12 ounces weekly, according to the FDA):  salmon (farmed and wild), shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, sardines, tilapia, and catfish.
  • albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. Limit to 6 ounces a week.
  • Fish caught for sport in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams may also contain industrial pollutants that play havoc with a developing nervous system. Check the safety with your local health departments.

Raw Vegetable Sprouts

The FDA advises pregnant women not to eat raw sprouts — including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.   Bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can get into sprout seeds, posing a danger for a weaker immune system. Cooked sprouts are perfectly fine.

Drinks to Limit or Avoid

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, or spirits) robs developing cells of oxygen and nutrients, preventing normal fetal development. The effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome on intellectual abilities and physical growth are permanent. While some assume the motto “Everything in moderation,” there is no known “safe level” of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • Unpasteurized juices, such as cider from neighborhood farms. These products may contain germs including E. coli.
  • Lead in tap water is linked to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and developmental delays in children. If you have an older home with lead pipes, it can leach into your tap water, and home filtration systems may not prevent it from reaching you.
  • Caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy beverages, and other sources may increase the risk of miscarriage, reduced birth weight, and stillbirth, but the research is conflicting. The March of Dimes recommends limiting caffeine consumption to 200 milligrams a day. That’s about the amount found in 12 ounces of coffee.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an industrial chemical used to make many hard plastics and the liners of many canned foods. It’s an endocrine disruptor that could disturb normal fetal development.

The FDA has not yet recommended that pregnant women avoid BPA, but they did express concern about “the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.”

If you wish to be safe, a wide range of BPA-free plastics and glass containers are available.

Herbal Teas, Vitamins, & Supplements

There are herbs and other supplements that can be used safely to support a healthy pregnancy, but always talk to your doctor or midwife about any supplement use during pregnancy.  Herbal teas are caffeine-free, but there are definite studies on the safety of herbal preparations during pregnancy.

Duffy MacKay, ND, is the vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, suggests the following guidelines during pregnancy:

  • Herbs that contain stimulants or caffeine-containing supplements, especially those that are intended to promote weight loss: guarana, kola nut, betel (Piper betle), Citrum aurantium, yohimbe, theobromine (cocoa extract), Garcinai cambogia.
  • Other botanicals to avoid include golden seal, Cascara sagrada, black walnut, wormwood, tansy, pennyroyal, senna, saw palmetto, pao d’arco.
  • Do not exceed 10,000 or more IU per day of vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects.  MacKay adds that “many newer and specialty nutrients have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy and should be avoided.”

Foods That May Cause Food Allergy

Your baby is more lifely to develop food allergies if you, your child’s father, or one of your other children has allergies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics  says that avoiding certain food allergens (such as peanuts) during pregnancy and nursing may reduce allergy in susceptible children.

If you don’t have any family history of allergies, there is little, if any, benefit to avoiding allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  Before changing your diet, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable about food allergies.

Excess Calories

Eating for two does not mean that you need twice the calories! Gaining too much weight is not just bad for your health, it may actually increase the risk of your future child being overweight.

It is important to chose healthy foods that will provide good nutrition for you and your developing baby. If you are overweight at conception or if your physical activity level declines, you may not need as many extra calories.

  • First trimester: no need to add extra calories yet.
  • Second trimester: add 340 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.
  • Third trimester: add 450 calories a day to your pre-pregnancy calorie needs.

It’s usually not that important to count calories, as long as you are eating a balanced diet and feel energized. If you are unsure about how many calories to consume, ask your doctor or dietitian.

Source: Web MD

feature image: mom logic

Morning Sickness Remedies

My friend Diana is not having an easy time of her first trimester! She’s constantly nauseous, throwing up all the time, and over-all exhausted– the heat isn’t helping things!  Since morning sickness is caused by the hormones that support your pregnancy, she knows that feeling constantly nauseated is actually a good thing… well, her brain knows it but her stomach doesn’t!  Her personal remedy is sucking candies, my other friend Miriam relies on candied ginger. But there’s no one trick that works for everyone, so you may have to try a few different things before you find something that helps settle your stomach. Here are some foods that may help you feel a little less nauseous.

http://arthritisfoundationwpa.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/morning-sickness.jpg

Crackers: This is an old standby, but crackers were actually one of the things I could tolerate whenever I was hit by morning sickness.  Basically any bland, crunchy food works the same way: bread, toast, rice cakes, even potato chips (not that we recommend subsisting on potato chips throughout your first trimester).

Soft foods: Some women find that the chewing is what triggers nausea, so try some soft, bland foods that are nutritious, gentle on the stomach, and don’t necessitate much chewing.  Applesauce, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit smoothies, etc.
Ginger: Can be found pickled, candied, in a tea bag, or a capsule– whatever the format, ginger is a natural remedy for nausea.

Lemons & Peppermint: Simply take a whiff  to relieve nausea. Try putting a couple drops of peppermint oil in a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Some women also find the scent of lavender to be soothing.

Apple cider vinegar: Try taking 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (not any other kind) in warm water first thing in the morning. Apple cider vinegar is pH neutral and may help to neutralize excess stomach acid.

Bananas in Coconut Milk: This remedy comes from iVillage:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon flaxseeds

Directions: Peel the bananas and cut each into one-inch segments. Combine the coconut milk, water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced bananas to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add the salt and boil for 20 minutes. Serve topped with flaxseed.

Why it helps: The potassium in the bananas can help alleviate some of your body’s aches and pains. The coconut milk works to build body mass for your baby. The maple syrup is so much better for you than sugar, and flaxseeds are full of essential fatty acids. The flaxseeds also help with that other delightful digestive symptom of pregnancy: constipation.

Alternative therapies: Hypnosis,  acupressure wristbands, and homeopathic remedies have  helped some women cope with nausea.

Give in to your cravings: Satisfying food cravings during pregnancy, whether you’re hankering for pickles or a big, juicy steak, may actually be beneficial. If you have an urge to eat a particular type of food, this may be your body’s way of telling you what it needs.

Other tips:

  • Eat small, frequent meals or snacks, so that your stomach is never empty or too full at one time.
  • Chew food well.
  • Avoid fatty, fried, and spicy foods.
  • Try eating a few whole-grain crackers before getting out of bed in the morning. Low blood sugar early in the morning may contribute to morning sickness (hence the  name). Crackers are also helpful for middle-of-the-night hunger pangs.
  • Try drinking in between meals rather than with meals. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’ve been vomiting a lot.
  • Identify your personal triggers and avoid them. This includes foods, odors, perfumes, and anything else that makes you nauseous.
  • Eat your food cold or room temperature; hot foods have a stronger aroma that may turn you off.
  • Nausea may become worse if you are tired or stressed out. So try to fit in a nap, some relaxation time, on an enjoyable activity.
  • Try taking your prenatal vitamin at night or with food. Also ask your doctor about a supplement that’s low-iron or iron-free at least during your first trimester. Iron can be hard on your digestive system.
  • Increase your intake of Vitamin B6. Ask your caretaker about dosage before taking any extra supplements.

As always, it is wise to consult with your doctor or midwife about any dietary changes, treatments, or supplements.

Your pregnancy diet can decrease baby’s risk of obesity

What pregnancy eating style do you think would contribute toward obesity in children? A high fat diet? Too many extra calories? Junk food? Well, none of those are good for your growing baby, but here’s some surprising news: Women who eat too little during pregnancy increase the risk of obesity in their children! Go figure!

Researchers have discovered eating too few calories while pregnant changes the way that a baby’s fat cells behave once they are born.  It causes excessive levels of inflammation which can damage the body’s ability to metabolise food, which leaves the youngsters at risk of putting on excessive weight.

The study is headed by Dr Helen Budge, who reminds us that what a mother eats while pregnant can have a large impact on the health of their baby in later life.  Instead of viewing obesity as entirely the fault of the individual, pregnant women must realize that genetic and environmental factors play a huge part. “What is particularly interesting is that we are not just talking about babies that have been malnourished while in the womb but those that are born within normal weight ranges,” says Dr. Budge.

Over-eating is similarly harmful too. So what is the advice? A healthy, balanced diet, of course!

Should You Avoid Nuts During Pregnancy?

Scientists now know that what a woman eats during pregnancy has long-lasting effects on her baby. The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care recently studied mothers’ consumption of a variety of foods such as vegetables, fish, eggs, milk products and nuts. Nearly 3,000 mothers participated in the study, with children from birth to 8 years of age. Researchers concluded that mothers who ate nuts daily increased their baby’s chance of developing asthma symptoms by 47%. (Not so with any of the other foods on the list.)

Based on the results of this study, there appears to be a pathway for allergy antibodies to pass from mother to baby. Researchers do not recommend that mothers completely eliminate nuts from their diet, but limiting your intake of highly allergenic foods, such as nuts, may be a good idea. Additionally, if you have a strong family history of allergies, experts recommend reducing the amount of nuts you eat during pregnancy.

Pediatrician recommended that children under the age of three not be given nut or nut products. And since the proteins from peanuts can be carried through breast milk, nursing mothers should try to reduce or eliminate nuts from their diet.

For more information, see Suite 101.

Confusion reigns: Food for the mom-to-be

In her tongue-in-cheek article,

Judith Woods “raises a glass (of fish oil) to commonsense advice on what she can and can’t consume while she is pregnant.”

If you feel yourself being slowly driven mad by all the headlines dictating what a pregnant woman should or should not eat, you will enjoy this commentary on the “daily cascade of health warnings, and nutritional do’s and don’ts,” which are definitely promoting the belief that “there’s never been a more terrifying time to be pregnant.”

Six years ago, when the author was pregnant with her daughter, things were different. More relaxed. Of course she knew enough to cut out the cigarettes, and she even avoided peanuts for fear of allergies. But that was the extent of many women’s awareness of proper pregnancy nutrition.  (You may be horrified to know that she was even “known to indulge in the occasional glass of celebratory champagne.” *GASP*)

“But times have changed, and, in 2008, it’s a very different story…. We must apparently ditch our coffee habit (risk of miscarriage), avoid chocolate (too much caffeine), eschew burgers and chips (sumo baby syndrome, culminating in a whopping 13lb-er with a lifelong obesity problem), give a wide berth to swordfish (high levels of mercury) and, my favourite; steer clear of killer milk (unpasteurised milk can contain salmonella) – although short of driving to Hertfordshire and hijacking a Holstein friesian with a bucket in my hand, I have no idea where I might ever come across it.”

And to make matters more confusing: “We are now being encouraged to eat peanuts by some experts, who believe that exposure to nuts while in the womb will prevent rather than cause allergies.”

Tap water, alcohol, olive oil, broccoli, and spicy food (“toddlers who turn up their noses at spicy food are likely to be branded racist”)… Eat a lot? Eat a little? Don’t eat at all?  Wherever you turn someone else is offering new (and often conflicting) advice!

What’s the bottom line?

“It’s true that we are getting bombarded by more and more health stories about pregnancy, which can make women feel very stressed – my daughter went through hell when she was pregnant,” says Peter Bowen-Simpkins, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic and spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists…. “It’s important to remember that the risks are very low… Yes, you should take basic precautions, but not to get so fixated that you don’t enjoy your pregnancy.”

After Content Ad