How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

How I Work Full-Time and Cook Dinner (Almost) Every Night

I’m by no means a super-mom: I often lose patience with my kids, I’m not on the PTA, I’m not the class mom and I don’t volunteer much at school. I work full-time and my husband works long hours but I cook dinner most, if not every night of the week.

It’s the one thing I’m proud to say I do as a mom.

Is it easy? No way.

When my kids are vying for something to eat and everyone is unwinding from the day, ordering a pizza, getting take-out or eating out always seems like an easier option.

There’s nothing wrong with eating out every once in awhile, but cooking real, fresh, homemade food is ideal.

Not only is the food usually healthier, but your kids aren’t likely to overindulge on large portion sizes.

Cooking dinner most nights of the week doesn’t require you to invest in pricey meal subscription boxes or hire a personal chef.

With some planning and prep work, you can cook a healthy, delicious dinner every night of the week.

Here’s how I pull it off and you can too.

I use the chopping board a lot.

I won’t lie: if you want to cook dinner almost every night, it requires time in the kitchen.

Time spent on meal prep: lots of washing, peeling, slicing, dicing and chopping.

I carve out time on the weekends and find pockets of time throughout the week such as before my kids wake up, after they go to sleep, or while dinner is cooking to chop fruits and vegetables.

I don’t always cook right away but I’ll store the food in glass containers which makes it a breeze to get dinner on the table throughout the week.

I make lists

Making a grocery shopping list is a necessity if you want to cook dinner almost every night.

A list helps me know which foods and ingredients I’ll need before I leave for the grocery store, it prevents me from forgetting anything while I’m there and ensures I don’t make impulse purchases—especially when the kids are with me.

I batch cook

Although I’d rather be watching HGTV, I use large blocks of time on the weekends to batch cook a few meals.

I also soak and cook large batches of beans that can be used to make a variety of meals, cook large batches of broccoli and asparagus and make a large vat of vegetarian lentil stew that I portion out throughout the week for lunches and dinner.

I’ll also make gluten-free bread, bean burgers and brown rice that can be used in a variety of ways for dinner throughout the week.

I don’t overthink dinner

Although I love to cook, I simply don’t have the time during the week to try new dinner recipes and make meals that take more than 30 minutes.

That doesn’t mean however, that I rely on packaged, processed meals, frozen meals or boxed macaroni and cheese.

Instead, I stick to the basics.

I keep a lot of simple ingredients on hand at all times like salad, sliced peppers, avocado, beans, canned salmon and tempeh.

I also make a lot of the same easy meals every week. Some examples:

  • Roasted salmon and broccoli
  • Vegetable frittata
  • Roasted tempeh and salad
  • Egg “fried” rice
  • Salad with hard-boiled eggs and avocado
  • Baked chicken fingers and asparagus

I also use my Pampered Chef pan to make easy, delicious sheet pan meals.

I repurpose leftovers

When there are small amounts of leftovers in the fridge, I’ll put everything out buffet-style and let me kids choose what they want.

Leftover roasted chicken or salmon can be added to salad greens, and leftover vegetables can be transformed into a stir-fry, for example.

I start dinner early

I work from home so if I can sneak away for 10 minutes here and there, I do some meal prep or get dinner started early before my kids get home.

If you work outside the home, ask your partner or the babysitter to pitch in and get dinner started, if possible.

On these nights, stick to easy meals or do some of the prep work beforehand so they only to have to assemble the ingredients.

Or if time allows, you can make dinner before you leave in the morning, which is something I also do.

I have a back-up plan

When work is hectic, we’re running home late from an appointment or an after-school activity and I don’t have time to cook, I scramble eggs, boil pasta, re-heat bean burgers or serve leftovers.

I use my appliances

The food processor, blender and hand mixer all help me to cook dinner fast.

The slow cooker is also an excellent kitchen appliance because you can make just about anything and it couldn’t be easier. Add chicken, vegetables and rice and dinner is done by the time you come home.

I make it a team effort

When my husband is home in time for dinner and I’m out with the kids, he’ll get dinner started.

Sure, he used to be a chef so whatever he makes is usually better than what I come up with, but he uses the same strategies I do to cook dinner almost every night.

The sheer fact that he prioritizes a healthy eating just as much as I do also helps to ensure we cook dinner.

Most of our spouses aren’t chefs and many aren’t even comfortable in the kitchen but feeding your family isn’t your job alone.

Talk to your spouse and come up with easy, go-to meals that can easily be pulled together. Anyone can make a salad, a sandwich and boil pasta.

Or make a meal ahead of time that can be cooked or reheated.

Do you cook dinner almost every night? How do you do it?

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about breastfeeding in general and I certainly didn’t give much thought to whether I’d breastfeed or not.

That all changed one day when I read a fact sheet about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. Within 5 minutes, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to breastfeed.”

Shortly thereafter, I read a book about breastfeeding and thought I’d be all set for when my child was born, but little did I know how much more there was to learn and how little I was prepared for it all.

The truth is that although breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t come so naturally to most women. It takes commitment, physical energy, mental fortitude, and flexibility for it to work. I should know—I breastfed two babies, each for a year.

There were other things no one told me about breastfeeding and I had to learn on my own. Here are 8.

1. You need help

After I gave birth to my first child, the lactation consultants in the hospital paid me a few visits. Everything seemed to be going well but I wasn’t quite sure if I was doing it right and it was also painful.

It wasn’t until they encouraged me to set up a private appointment with them a few days later that everything seemed to make sense and became a lot easier. They taught me how to relax, position my baby, and get the latch right.

Two years later when I had my second child, I once again met with a lactation consultant after I was discharged because I was worried my milk supply was low. After I fed my baby, the lactation consultant weighed her, talked to me about my concerns, and assured me everything was fine.

Whether it’s a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or another mom, breastfeeding moms need information, guidance, and support.


2. You might be hungry all the time

Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need an extra 300-500 calories in their diets. Breastfeeding is a lot like a sweat session at the gym: your body is working hard to produce milk and you’re burning a lot of calories.

When I was breastfeeding, I felt like I was hungry all the time and eating non-stop. As a new mom of course, it was hard to find time to sit down to a meal so often times, I would multi-task and eat over my daughter as she breastfed.


3. You can pump too much

When your milk supply is low, lactation consultants tell you to pump but my milk supply wasn’t low and I actually think I pumped too much.

My first child was a good eater (she still is), and I had a really good milk supply and my breasts were constantly engorged especially in the early months of breastfeeding. Everyday, I’d effortlessly pump enough for a bottle so my husband could take a feeding at night. But when she started to sleep through the night, I continued to pump.

Eventually, I had a freezer full of milk for no apparent reason. Although I thought I was pumping to alleviate the engorgement, I think I inadvertently increased my milk supply.


4. It won’t be easy

Make no mistake: breastfeeding takes commitment and it’s a 24/7 job, especially in the beginning.

When my second child came along, breastfeeding became even more inconvenient because I had a toddler to keep up with too. I wanted desperately to follow the Baby Wise strategy which worked swimmingly for my first child, but wasn’t working out that well for my second who would cry the minute I put her in the bassinet and wanted to nurse all the time. With the help of the lactation consultant, I realized that wasn’t going to happen and some babies want to nurse—a lot.

I also started to feel like I could never get out of the house or go anywhere since I didn’t have breast milk reserves and I didn’t want to feed my daughter formula unless it was necessary—like the time I had a cat scan and couldn’t breastfeed.

5. You might be up against other challenges

While I was breastfeeding, I had postpartum depression (something I wasn’t diagnosed with until much later), I was dealing with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER), and I had a bout with mastitis.

I also made the decision of having my second child’s frenulum clipped because she had a slight tongue-tie which made breastfeeding painful. Although I knew it had to be done if I was going to continue breastfeeding, watching her cry, and the doctor walk in and out of the room in 5 minutes, was tough. When I checked out and was told said procedure was $500, I nearly cried myself.

Of course, there was also work, managing my household and everything else life throws at you, which makes breastfeeding that much more challenging.


6. You won’t need a nursing cover for long

With my first child, I covered up while I breastfed and even went into a separate room when we had guests over or were invited to someone else’s house.

When you’re whipping out your breasts every few hours, however, that practice quickly fades. Soon enough, I breastfed in front of family, friends, and in public.

Come baby #2 and there was nothing to hide. In fact, eight weeks after giving birth, I found myself in the bridal suite for a family wedding pumping in a cocktail dress while my husband guarded the door.


7.  Sex gets interesting

Due to low levels of estrogen, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. If/when you do have the big ‘O,’ your breasts can leak spray everywhere thanks to oxytocin, the hormone responsible for both milk letdown and orgasm.

I’m thankful to have a husband who could care less and who finds the humor in almost any situation, but feeling like I had lost all control of my body was an understatement.


8. You might have regret or feel grateful

The definition of breastfeeding success or achieving breastfeeding goals looks different for each woman. We’re all unique, have different challenges, and have varying beliefs and views about breastfeeding. There are no hard and fast rules: what works for you may not work for another mom.

For me, I felt grateful to be able to have breastfed both babies for as long as I did. For working moms who have to travel to an office, travel for work, clock hours or don’t have a traditional office like a friend of mine who pumped in her car in NYC garages in between meetings with clients, breastfeeding can be downright impossible.

Despite many challenges, I felt accomplished and proud that I stuck with it and gave my children what I believe is the best start in life.

Do I wish I would have been more prepared, had more support, and known what breastfeeding would really be like? Sure. But when it comes to parenting, you’re never really prepared, you make a ton of mistakes, and you learn as you go along. Ignorance is bliss.

 

Are there things you wish you would have known before you started to breastfeed? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

You already know that breastfeeding is a healthy choice for you and your baby, but what you might wonder about are things like what foods you should eat and avoid, how many calories you should be getting, and if you can drink coffee and alcohol.

What may surprise you is that there aren’t any hard and fast food rules for breastfeeding. In fact, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy your diet is, your baby will still get what he needs.

Nevertheless, eating enough calories, the right types of foods and getting key nutrients in your diet will give you the energy to keep up your milk supply, keep up with caring for your baby, and support your overall health and wellness.

Here are 9 food rules for breastfeeding to consider.

Rule #1: Don’t diet

Perhaps one of the most important food rules for breastfeeding is to avoid restricting calories. Although you might be ready to lose the baby weight, dieting could affect your milk supply and deplete your energy levels.

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need an extra 450 to 500 calories a day to support your milk supply so make a point to get them in.

Rule #2: Drink plenty of water

A misnomer about breastfeeding is that drinking plenty of water is important for your milk supply, but upping your intake of H2O actually doesn’t increase your milk supply, according to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and founder of KellyMom.com

What drinking plenty of water can do however, is help prevent you from feeling even more fatigued than you probably already do.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine), says the adequate intake (AI) for water while breastfeeding is 3.1 liters but notes there’s no data to suggest that kidney function and the amount of hydration breastfeeding moms need is any different than moms who are not breastfeeding.

Rather than keeping tabs on how much water you’re drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink for thirst. Keep a water bottle near you during the day to make sure you’re staying well-hydrated and be mindful of symptoms of dehydration, which include dark urine, constipation, and fatigue.

Don’t like plain water? Add slices of cucumber or strawberry for a hint of flavor. Water from other sources count too: fruits and vegetables, soups, juices, milk, tea and coffee.

Rule #3: Make protein a priority

Breastfeeding places high demands for protein on your body so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty at every meal and snack you eat. Eating protein will also stabilize your blood sugar, give you energy, and help you lose the baby weight.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Tempeh, tofu and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

 

Rule #4: Get DHA

DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet is important for your baby’s brain development. Fish is one of the highest sources of DHA and studies show eating fish can ward off postpartum depression too.

You’ll want to avoid high-mercury fish, which include, shark, marlin, king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, and tilefish. Also, limit your consumption of albacore (white) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Fish that are considered safe because they have lower levels of mercury include salmon, anchovy, catfish, clam, crab, cod, oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp, and canned light tuna.

Rule #5: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D

Your baby will draw all of the nutrition he needs from your breast milk, including your calcium stores, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough for your body.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommend lactating women get 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D.

Dairy is an obvious source of calcium, but green leafy vegetables, fish, almonds, sesame seeds and fortified cereals, breads and orange juice, are also good sources of calcium.

Get vitamin D from fortified milk, fatty fish like salmon or the good ‘ol sun. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, a supplement can also help.

Rule #6: Curb caffeine

Sleepless nights and 24/7 feedings will have you craving coffee, but babies are sensitive to caffeine so it’s a good idea to cut back while you’re breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 200 milligrams (mg) a day of caffeine is likely safe for breastfeeding moms.

If you’re unsure how much caffeine is in your cup of joe, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a handy caffeine chart. Also, keep tabs on other sources of caffeine like decaf coffee, tea, chocolate, and some snacks.

Rule #7: Eat iron-rich foods

Getting adequate levels of iron in your diet while you’re breastfeeding can prevent iron-deficient anemia and ensure you have plenty of energy to care for your baby.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron is 9mg but talk to your doctor about how much you need especially if your menstrual periods have returned.

Iron-rich foods include beef, oysters, beans and legumes, spinach, and iron-fortified cereals.

Rule #8: Add lots of herbs and spices to your meals

If you enjoy herbs and spices, adding them to your meals can help your baby to love them later on and may even prevent picky eating.

According to a June 2017 review in the journal Current Nutrition Reports, the foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences.

Add cilantro to green smoothies, turmeric to stews, and cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, for example.

Rule #9: Alcohol is OK, but on occasion

A glass of wine every once in awhile is considered safe while you’re breastfeeding, but it probably shouldn’t be something you do every night and you should limit it to one drink which includes:

·      6 ounces of wine

·      12 ounces of beer

·      1.5 ounces of liquor

Although conventional wisdom has promoted the “pump and dump” strategy, there’s no need. Alcohol leaves your breast milk at it leaves your bloodstream. ACOG recommends moms wait at last 2 hours after having a drink before resuming breastfeeding.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy  A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

6 Tips For a Healthy Vegetarian Pregnancy

A vegetarian diet can be a heathy way to eat during pregnancy, but you'll want to make sure it's designed to support your baby's growth and development.

A vegetarian diet—one that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds—can be a healthy way to eat, even during pregnancy.

According to a 2016 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper, a well planned vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is appropriate. What’s more, a 2015 review in the journal BJOG suggests following a vegetarian or vegan diet during pregnancy is safe and not associated with adverse outcomes or birth defects.

Being a junk-food vegetarian and filling up on meatless foods like breads, pastas and processed foods alone however, isn’t a healthy way to eat and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Add to that nausea and morning sickness, and you could be missing out on the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

The key therefore, is to make sure your vegetarian diet is well designed and includes all of the nutrients you and your baby need.

Here are some things to consider when planning a vegetarian diet during pregnancy.

1. Fill up on folate

The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women of childbearing age take between 400 and 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, to prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida that can occur during the early weeks of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, you should take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid to support your baby’s development.

Although folic acid is better absorbed than folate-rich foods, getting foods like spinach, black-eyed peas, asparagus and Brussels sprouts is ideal.

2. Pick protein

Getting enough protein during pregnancy is important for cell growth, both for you and your baby.

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 46 grams per day during the first trimester and 71 grams per day during the second and third trimesters.

On a vegetarian diet, beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and can easily be swapped in for meat in most dishes. Beans and legumes are also healthy choices because they contain fiber which balance blood sugar, help you feel satiated and prevent pregnancy constipation.

Other sources of protein include eggs, nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and edamame.

3. Up your intake of iron

Iron helps your baby and the placenta develop, allows red blood cells in your body to deliver oxygen to your baby, and maintains your body’s blood volume which doubles during pregnancy. Not only can iron-deficiency anemia cause fatigue, it can lead to preterm labor as well.

During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron but your iron needs may be higher because plant-based iron may not be as readily absorbed as the iron in animal products.

To improve absorbency, you can soak and cook beans, legumes and nuts or pair them with vitamin-C rich foods. Vitamin C rich foods include strawberries, honeydew, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, Brussel sprouts and tomatoes. Other iron-rich foods include eggs, spinach, raisins, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and fortified cereals.

4. Eat calcium-rich foods

Calcium is an important nutrient during pregnancy because it helps your baby build strong teeth and bones, and it’s important for his cardiovascular function.

Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D and protein as well as vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 supports brain and nervous system development and is necessary to absorb folate and choline. B12 is primarily found in animal sources but you can also get it in fortified foods like cereals, meat substitutes, nondairy milks, and nutritional yeast.

If you’re avoiding dairy products, be sure to include non-dairy calcium sources such as green leafy vegetables, figs, and chia seeds.

5. Get healthy fats

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are vital for baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system development. Be sure to include fatty fish like salmon as well as eggs, nuts and seeds.

If you don’t eat fish or eggs however, you’ll want to pay attention to the ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal conversion of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to DHA and EPA. I suggest you speak with a registered dietitian nutrition who specializes in pregnancy nutrition and can design a healthy plan for you.

6. Eat complex carbohydrates

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. They support your baby’s neurological development and overall health, and give you steady energy throughout the day.

Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include foods like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.

7. Take a prenatal vitamin

A good prenatal vitamin shouldn’t replace whole-food sources of nutrients but if you’re battling morning sickness or find it difficult to get what you need, it can help fill in the nutritional gaps.

The New Mom’s Guide to Losing The Baby Weight  Shed the pregnancy pounds with these easy tips.

The New Mom’s Guide to Losing The Baby Weight

Shed the pregnancy pounds with these easy tips.

In between diaper changes, feedings and getting the hang of being a new mom, chances are losing the baby weight has been on your mind.

Shedding the pregnancy pounds takes time but getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight—or at least back to a healthy weight—should be your goal.

Carrying around extra lbs can increase your risk for several major health problems including high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea and certain types of cancer.

According to a study published in July 2014 in the journal Diabetes Care, moms who keep the baby weight 3 to 12 months after giving birth and those who gain more weight have an increased risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes later on in life.

And if you become pregnant again, the extra weight can lead to pregnancy complications.

The key to healthy weight loss is slow and steady. It took nine months to gain the baby weight so it can take just as long to lose it.

Eat Whole Foods

Fast food, take-out and processed, packaged foods can be tempting especially because it can seem like there’s no time to cook, much less sit down to a meal.

Eating a healthy diet made up mostly of whole foods will give you the energy you need to care for your baby, feel good and shed the post-baby pounds.

Rather than overhauling your diet or eliminating whole food groups in an effort to lose the baby weight, eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats like avocado. Since fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrition and fiber, they’ll also help you feel fuller longer and stave off hunger.

Start Slow

Depending on your fitness level before you conceived and during pregnancy, your doctor will give you the green light to start exercising, although it will likely be after your 6-week check-up.

Since your joints may still feel loose and your balance will be off, start out slow and don’t push yourself if you’re not feeling it.

Stick with low impact workouts like walking or a postpartum fitness program before high-impact workouts like running, Spinning or boot camp.

Make Time For Strength Training

Cardio torches calories but building muscle also burns fat and is key to losing the baby weight. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research women who participated in a 1-hour strength training session burned an average 100 more calories 24 hours afterward than when they didn’t lift weights.

Eat Enough

Drastically cutting calories can put your body into starvation mode and stall your weight loss. Plus, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’re burning about 500 extra calories a day—calories your body needs for your breast milk and to boost your metabolism.

Instead of cutting calories, eat when you’re hungry, watch your portion sizes and choose foods that will satiate your hunger and give you energy—not zap it.

 

Deal With Diastasis Recti

After I gave birth to my second child, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight, eating healthy and exercising but my body looked much different than it did before I became pregnant.

After I interviewed Leah Keller, founder of Every Mother, I realized I had diastasis recti.

Diastasis recti is a condition in which the rectus abdominis or “6-pack” muscles that run down the center of the stomach separate. The connective tissue thins, weakens and stretches sideways, causing the waistline to widen and bulge. So no matter how much you exercise, you’ll have a belly. More than 32 percent of women have diastasis recti 12 months postpartum, according to a September 2016 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Diastasis recti can be resolved but it takes time and you have to do the right exercises: ones that pull the belly into the spine, never crunches.

Stop Comparing Yourself

It’s unrealistic to think you’re going to shed the baby weight in weeks flat like the celebrities do. These moms are probably resorting to extreme, unhealthy diets, have personal chefs and personal trainers and a 24/7 nanny to help them.

But you might also be trying to stack up to your own or someone else’s impossible standards about what you should look like or even compare yourself to other moms.

My advice? Don’t do it.

Your body and its chemistry are unique, and your life is different than other moms.

After you give birth, you need time to heal and recover, bond with your baby and get sleep when you can. So give yourself a break and be realistic about how much and how fast you can lose the baby weight.

Commit To Your Health

According to a January 2015 study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, 75 percent of new moms weighed more a year after they give birth than they did before becoming pregnant.

When you’re home with a newborn, you never know what your day will look like or how much energy you’ll have after being up all night. Although a 60-minute workout at the gym first thing in the morning may not be realistic, joining a mommy and me postpartum fitness program, finding another mom who can be your workout buddy or putting on a streaming workout while your baby naps may be.

Regardless of the workout you choose, make a commitment to you and your health because the healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be.

Ask For Help

Don’t feel bad about asking others to help you achieve your weight loss goals and make time for yourself. If grandma offers to babysit, take her up on it. Or, if your budget allows, consider hiring a babysitter so you can take a Yoga class or go for a walk.

Losing the baby weight should be realistic, time efficient and fun. And with the right support, you’ll be back to your pre-baby bod in no time.

10 Calcium-Rich Foods To Eat During Pregnancy

10 Calcium-Rich Foods To Eat During Pregnancy

Calcium is an essential nutrient and during pregnancy, its primary role is to help your baby grow strong bones and teeth.

It’s also a key nutrient for blood clotting, nerve, heart and muscle function and normal heart rhythm.

If you who get less than 900 mg of calcium a day however, you could be at risk for preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that causes high blood pressure and kidney problems and can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for you and your baby.

What’s more, a July 2017 study in The Journal of Nutrition suggests low calcium intake during pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure, especially for those who had high blood pressure while they were pregnant.

During both pregnancy and breastfeeding, your baby will draw what he needs from your calcium stores, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough in your diet for yourself. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day during pregnancy and while breastfeeding for women 19 years and older while those under 19 should get 1,300 milligrams (mg).

Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist who specializes in prenatal nutrition to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and if you should also take a supplement.

Adding these 10 foods to your diet can help.

1. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, which has more protein that regular, is also high in calcium. One serving contains 187 milligrams.

Instead of fruit-flavored Greek yogurt which is high in sugar, opt for plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries for extra fiber and a sweet and satisfying snack.

2. Broccoli

Dairy isn’t the only way to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet—leafy green vegetables are also one of the best sources.

With 34 milligrams of calcium in each cup, and chock full of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is an excellent addition to your pregnancy diet.

If you can’t stomach greens however, try pureeing broccoli into a delicious soup or adding pureed broccoli into your favorite marinara sauce.

3. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are probably not a food you eat often, but they are one of the best calcium-rich foods to eat during pregnancy. Once ounce provides 273 milligrams of calcium.

Sesame seeds are also high in iron and magnesium and a good source of protein and fiber.

Add sesame seeds to rice dishes, stir-fries, salmon or shrimp or incorporate them into your favorite bread or muffin recipe.

4. Dairy and Fortified Non-Dairy Milks

Milk is an obvious source of calcium and it’s always a good idea to choose organic milk to avoid artificial growth hormones.

 

If you can’t digest cow’s milk or are avoiding it however, non-dairy, fortified almond milk, cashew milk and coconut milk can also be a good source of calcium in your diet.

5. Sardines

When morning sickness and nausea are in full force, fish may be the last food you want to eat. But sardines are one of the best calcium-rich foods to eat during pregnancy. Three ounces provides 325 mg of calcium.

Sardines are also an excellent source of protein, vitamins B12 and D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your baby’s brain development.

Fresh or canned, they’re easy to incorporate into any meal.

6. Salmon

Like sardines, salmon (fresh, frozen or canned) is rich in calcium: a 3-ounce serving provides 181 milligrams.

Salmon is also an excellent source of protein, vitamins B6 and B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, it will satiate your hunger and give you plenty of energy throughout the day.

7. Tofu

If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or simply looking to get more plant-based foods in your diet, tofu is a good choice. A 1/2 cup of tofu contains 253 mg of calcium.

Make a tofu scramble for breakfast, use it as a replacement for meat in most dishes or add it to a vegetable stir-fry for a delicious and satisfying meal.

8. Figs

Fresh or dried, figs are one of the best calcium-rich foods during pregnancy. A 1/2 cup of figs provide 35 milligrams of calcium. They’re also high in fiber, a good thing if you’re plagued by constipation.

Add figs to oatmeal or salads or roast them for a sweet and satisfying after-dinner dessert.

9. Edamame

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are high in calcium. One cup provides 97 milligrams of calcium. Edamame is also an excellent source of folate, a nutrient every woman needs whether she’s planning to become pregnant or not.

Edamame goes well with any meal and makes for an easy and convenient snack.

10. Kale

Green leafy vegetables are an important source of nutrients while you’re pregnant and kale is one of the best calcium-rich foods to focus on. One cup of kale provides 90 milligrams of calcium, and is also a good source of protein, fiber, iron, folate, vitamins A, B6, C, K and potassium.

Add kale to soups and stews, make a salad or roast kale chips. If you can’t think about chewing kale, blend it up into a green smoothie or make a green juice instead.

10 Healthy (and Surprising!) Things To Do Before Your Baby Is Born

10 Healthy (and Surprising!) Things To Do Before Your Baby Is Born

When I was pregnant with my first child, like most moms I read everything I could get my hands on: parenting books, articles, magazines and every brochure offered at my doctor’s office.

I took a Hypnobirthing class and a meditation class, created a registry, set up the nursery, washed and folded onesies and stocked up on diapers. I read ratings and reviews to find a safe car seat, the best bathtub and an organic mattress.

Although all of the clothing, gear and products are important, there actually are other things you’ll want to consider that you probably haven’t thought about. Things that will help you, your spouse and your baby be healthy and happy.

So go ahead, schedule the childbirth class, create your birth plan and pack a bag for the hospital, then think about these 10 healthy (and surprising) things to do before your baby is born.

1. Purge Your Pantry

If you indulge in cookies, candy and chips, it can be a tough habit to break. After you give birth however, you’ll want to eat foods that will give you energy, not zap it. Also, the way you eat will help set the stage for your baby’s diet when he starts solids and throughout his life.

Adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and purge your pantry of processed, packaged snacks so they won’t be a temptation. Then fill it with healthy, whole foods like nuts and seeds, quinoa, oatmeal, nut butter and canned salmon and sardines.

2. Make Small Tweaks To Your Diet

A healthy diet after you give birth is just as important as it is during pregnancy. Eating mostly whole-foods, including plenty of vegetables and some fruit, will give you the energy you need to care for your newborn and the calories to support your body while you’re breastfeeding.

If your diet could use some improvement, think about making one small changes every week instead of overhauling your entire diet at once.

These might include:

  • Make a salad everyday for lunch.
  • Use the slow cooker to make a healthy meal.
  • Go out to dinner one less day.
  • Chop and sort fruits and vegetables for green juices or smoothies.
  • Make Meatless Mondays a habit.
  • Swap refined carbohydrates for whole grains.
  • Add an extra vegetable to your plate.
  • Plan your meals for the week.
  • Create a shopping list and stick with it.

3. Know The Signs Of Postpartum Depression

After I had both of my children, I struggled to adapt to my new role. It seemed to me that every other mom knew what she was doing, she had it all together and she couldn’t be happier. For some reason, I didn’t feel the same.

It wasn’t until my second child was walking that I finally decided to seek help and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression affects as many as 1 in 7 women, according to a 2013 study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, and experts say many more women are likely suffering in silence.

Postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. Before you give birth, read an article or two about postpartum depression so you’ll know the signs to look for and where to turn for help.

4. Get Moving

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise most or all days of the week. If you didn’t exercise much throughout your pregnancy, it’s never too late to start.

Exercise during pregnancy can give you an energy boost, keep your weight under control, help you sleep better, improve your mood and lower your risk for pregnancy complications. Creating the habit now will also make you more likely to stick with it after you give birth.

5. Stock Your Freezer

When you have a newborn at home, there’s little time to cook healthy meals, much less find the time to eat. When I had my first child, I used to balance my lunch on a plate over her as she breastfed.

Before you give birth, spend a few hours on the weekends to make meals you can freeze and re-heat later so you won’t have to resort to fast food or take-out. Keep a few healthy frozen foods on hand too so you’ll always be able to quickly pull something healthy together.

6. Put A Lactation Consultant on Speed Dial

Within minutes of giving birth, my daughter immediately latched on but I didn’t quite understand how to position her and I never could tell if I was doing it right.

It wasn’t until I had a private session with the lactation consultants at the hospital a few days later that it all came together for us.

Although breastfeeding is one of the most natural things you can do, it doesn’t always come naturally so if you decide to breastfeed, chances are you’ll need help.

Before you give birth, find out if the hospital or birth center you’ll be delivering at has lactation consultants on staff or ask your doctor or midwife for a few recommendations.

7. Stock Up On Natural Products

In the U.S. so many of the products for moms and babies contain harmful, toxic chemicals like parabens, phthalates and fragrance that you don’t want near you or your baby.

Before your baby is born, clean out your home and stock up on natural, green cleaning products and personal care products. Or consider making your own cleaning products with simple ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and castile soap.

8. Find (Good) Friends

One of the best groups I joined when my daughters were babies was MOPS International. It was the first time since becoming a mom that I felt there were other moms who got it. I found friends and a community of real, down-to-earth, supportive moms.

So many of us don’t have a village around us that we so often read about but having a few good friends is necessary. Having friends who are in the same stage of life and can offer support can make motherhood a bit easier.

9. Ask For and Accept Help

When I became a new mom, my mother offered several times to help. Yet since I was breastfeeding, I didn’t know what to ask her for help with.

Plus, I wanted to be able to handle new motherhood on my own. I’m Ms. Independent and rarely ask anyone for help.

Now that my kids are older however, I see the error of my ways I could have asked her to rock the baby or play with her so I could take a catnap or go out for a coffee.

No matter how much you think you can—or should—do everything alone, ask for help. And if a family member or friend offers help, say yes. The slightest amount of support can spell the difference between an exhausted, stressed out mama and a healthy, happy one.

10. Let It Go

Having a birth plan is a good idea but the truth is bringing new life into the world is unpredictable so your baby’s birth may not go as you hope.

Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind about co-sleeping, breastfeeding and going back to work, but one of the best pieces of advice you can have as a new mom is to let it go. The truth is you won’t know what your baby will be like or what kind of mom you’ll be until you actually become one. If you’re flexible and open to the roller coaster ride of being a mom, it can be a smoother journey.

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Freezer At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Freezer At All Times

It’s not easy to get dinner on the table every night but fast food, restaurant fare and take-out are usually high in calories, sodium and saturated fat and low in nutrition—definitely not a healthy choice for you or your kids.

When you have a few healthy essentials stocked in your freezer however, you’ll stress less, save money and eat healthier.

Here are 10 foods you should keep in your freezer at all times.

1. Bananas

My daughter eats a banana for breakfast every morning except that is, when brown spots start to appear and they become a bit mushy. Instead of tossing them however, I peel the them and pop them in the freezer.

Frozen bananas are great for smoothies, banana bread, in place of oil in baked goods or as a healthy, non-dairy ice cream.

2. Vegetables

If you often find yourself without any vegetables but you can’t make it to the grocery store, always keep frozen vegetables on hand.

Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen so they may be healthier than fresh varieties. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Frozen vegetables can also save you time washing and chopping and they can be steamed in 10 minutes.

3. Herbs

I rarely purchase herbs because most recipes call for only a few sprigs and the rest ends up getting tossed.

A better way is to wash and store leftover herbs in the freezer and then use them as needed.

4. Bread

When bread is on sale, stock up and store it in the freezer to prevent it from getting moldy and stale.

When life is hectic and weeknights get busy, there’s nothing wrong with grilled cheese or eggs and toast for dinner.

5. Veggie Scraps

An average family of four in the U.S. wastes about 25 percent of the food they buy.

Suffice to say some of that is the food picky eaters refuse to eat but some of it probably is wilted vegetables and veggie scraps.

Instead of tossing sad vegetables, store carrot peels and ends, celery ends and leaves, and mushroom stems in the freezer until you have enough to boil down into a vegetable broth you can use for soups and stews.

6. Beans and legumes

On Sunday, I make a large batch of lentil stew and freeze a portion to be used for lunches or dinner. Beans and legumes are high in fiber, protein, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

Reheat beans and legumes in the microwave or on the stove. Add beans to stews, soups or tacos.

7. Berries

At $3.99 on average for a pint, berries can get expensive. Yet strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are high in antioxidants and fiber and some of the healthiest types of fruit you can feed your kids.

When you spot berries on sale, stock up and freeze them or purchase frozen berries that you can use in smoothies, baked goods and fruit popsicles. Your kids might also enjoy eating frozen berries straight out of the freezer as a snack.

8. Peas

Peas are high in fiber, protein, potassium, vitamins A, B6, and C as well as iron and magnesium.

Peas make a great first food for babies and are versatile in any dish. Puree them into a soup, add them to rice dishes and stews or serve them as an appetizer when your kids beg, is dinner almost ready?

9. Nuts

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, fat and heart-healthy fats and make for easy, convenient snacks for kids.

Since nuts can go rancid however, if you buy them in bulk, which is usually cheaper, you can freeze them so they’ll stay fresh.

10. Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and halibut are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids so having them on hand will ensure you’ll always have a healthy meal.

A bag of shrimp is also an easy and healthy go-to meal, it defrosts quickly and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Pair fish with vegetables and rice, add to a stir-fry and serve leftovers for lunch.

What foods do you keep in your freezer? Let me know in the comments.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget  Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

10 Ways To Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget

Feeding your family healthy, fresh foods doesn't have to break the bank.

Feeding your family a healthy diet can be more expensive than a diet made up of fast food and take out but it also doesn’t have to break the bank.

According to a January 2018 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, feeding a family of 4 a healthy diet can cost between $129 and $296 a week yet it may not be that much more expensive. In fact, according to a December 2013 meta-analysis published in the journal BMJ, the healthiest types of diets like those rich in fruits and vegetables, fish and nuts cost only $1.50 more per day than unhealthy diets made up of processed foods, meats and refined grains.

Whether your family’s food budget is tight or you have a bit to spare, here are 10 ways to make the most of it.

1. Pay Attention To Portions

In the U.S., our portion sizes are double—sometimes triple—the size of normal, healthy portions. Not only can overeating lead to weight gain and serious health conditions for you and your kids, it can also cause you to spend more money on food.

When you dish out food, pay attention to portion sizes. For example, a 3-ounce piece of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Instead of making meat the main portion, fill up half your plate with vegetables and think about meat as a side dish.

2. Eat Less Meat

When it comes to meat, eating it everyday can get expensive especially if you purchase organic and grass-fed varieties.

Make Meatless Monday a habit every week or swap beans, legumes and vegetarian dishes for meat a few times a week to cut down on your food bill.

3. Carve Out Time For Prep

Pre-chopped and spiralized vegetables, pre-made salads, cut up fruit and canned beans make home cooked meals faster and easier but they’re also more expensive.

If you’re looking to stretch your family’s food budget, spend some time on the weekends or at night to pre-chop ingredients, assemble salads and soak and cook beans.

4. Buy Store Brands

When you purchase healthy food staples like rice, quinoa, vegetable stock and canned salmon, compare brands. Generic and store brands will usually be more affordable than national brands.

5. Shop Big Box Stores

Large retailers like Target often sell healthy food at significantly lower prices than grocery stores. I often pick up yogurt, bread, canned beans, salmon and sardines, chia seeds, nuts and almond milk.

6. Make a List and Plan Ahead

If you go grocery shopping without a list, you’re more likely to buy items you don’t need and spend more.

Before heading to the grocery store, look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and make a list to ensure you buy what you need. Meal planning a week’s worth of dinners can also help you make the most of your food budget.

7. Shop In Season and On Sale

When you purchase fruits and vegetables that are in-season, the food will be fresher and more affordable. Also, scan the grocery store circular for sales and stock up and freeze what you don’t plan to eat that week.

8. Minimize Food Waste

Food waste is a huge concern in the U.S. with Americans throwing away half of all produce each year.

To cut down on food waste, re-purpose leftovers into school lunches or freeze them for another night. If you have small amounts of odd vegetables but not enough for an entire meal, mix them into a stir-fry or blend them into soup. Small amounts of leftover fruit can be thrown into a smoothie or frozen as snacks for your kids.

9. Plant a Garden

 

If you have space, consider planting a garden which is an easy and enjoyable way to stretch your family’s food budget while also teaching kids where their food comes from. If space is limited, use a few planters for herbs.

10. Upgrade Dessert

Instead of offering packaged pudding, cookies or ice cream for dessert, make dessert healthy and more affordable. Make batches of chia see pudding, oatmeal energy bites or dried fruit alone or dipped in chocolate.

10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

10 Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn

Pregnancy heartburn or acid reflux: whatever you call it, that uncomfortable, burning sensation and constant need to burp is one pregnancy symptom all moms-to-be could do without.

Towards the end of both of my pregnancies, I had persistent heartburn at night the minute my head hit the pillow. I’d try to “burp” myself like a baby, hitting my back and my chest to try to relieve some of the pressure and prop my head up with pillows so I could get a few hours of shut-eye. Although it helped a bit, I was happy after I gave birth to no longer deal with it.

Approximately 30 to 50 percent of women will complain about pregnancy heartburn.

The reason is primarily pregnancy hormones—progesterone and relaxin—which cause the lower esophageal sphincter, or the muscles around the esophagus to relax and push food acids back up.

Eating alone can also cause acid reflux, so avoiding food two hours before bedtime is a good idea.

Triggers can vary between women but spicy foods, foods high in fat, and those that contain caffeine (chocolate included) or citrus usually cause heartburn.

A good rule of thumb: stick to whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat meals you make at home so you know exactly what you’re eating. Here, 10 healthy foods that fight pregnancy heartburn.

1. Ginger

Ginger does double duty for both morning sickness and acid reflux. It’s both anti-inflammatory and well known to help with GI discomfort.

Add ginger to a homemade green juice or green smoothie, grate it into a stir-fry or sip on a soothing cup of warm ginger tea.

2. Bananas

A great source of potassium, bananas are alkaline so they can fight acid reflux. Add a few slices to your breakfast or enjoy as a snack when hunger strikes.

3. Fennel

Fennel, or “Finacchio,” is an herb thought to cleanse the palette after a large meal—at least in many Italian-American families like mine. Whether it’s an old wives’ tale or not, fennel is used to help relieve digestive issues including heartburn, gas and bloating. If you like fennel’s mildly licorice taste and crunchy texture, chew on some or chop it up and add it your meals.

4. Green leafy vegetables

During the second and third trimesters, when morning sickness usually subsides and you have more of an appetite, fill up on green leafy vegetables which are packed with nutrition, filling fiber and are alkaline, so they won’t cause acid reflux.

Broccoli, kale, spinach, celery and cauliflower are all great choices.

5. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium and can prevent pregnancy heartburn. Since most brands of yogurt are high in sugar, choose plain Greek yogurt and add low glycemic fruit like blueberries or raspberries which also have filling fiber.

6. Melon

If you’re pregnant during the summer or live in a warm climate, you’re probably craving fresh, sweet fruit that has a high water content like watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, which are all refreshing and also keep acid reflux at bay.

7. Parsley

Well-known as an herb to aid digestion and relieve stomach upset, parsley also works well in green juices and in most dishes.

8. Whole Grains

Sources of complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are high in fiber so they’ll help you feel satiated and ward off acid reflux.

9. Almond milk

Dairy can cause stomach upset in some people but almond milk is alkaline and a good source of calcium.

Enjoy a glass alone or use it to make a breakfast smoothie.

10. Lean meats

Chicken, turkey or lean cuts of beef are all good sources of protein which will help you feel satiated and quell acid reflux.

 

Be sure that the meat you eat however, has the skin removed, grilled, broiled, baked or steamed and is thoroughly cooked to avoid harmful pathogens.

Avoid meats that are fried or have creamy or acidic sauces, which can cause acid reflux.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts  When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

Pregnancy Nutrition: 10 Diet Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to pregnancy nutrition, the key is to eat foods that will fuel your body and help your baby grow.

All intentions of healthy eating and striving for “perfect” nutrition during pregnancy can go right out the window with your positive pregnancy test.

Eating leafy green vegetables may have been your goal but bagels and cream cheese seem to be more your reality. And if you have nausea and morning sickness, saltine crackers and ginger ale is the best meal you’ve had all week.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t know as much as I do now about nutrition. I also didn’t think too much about the foods I was eating.

Of course I knew I shouldn’t be eating chips and chocolate, but I didn’t think indulging was that big of a deal. The problem was, I indulged whenever I wanted. A second helping? Sure. Dessert? Why not.

I’m embarrassed to admit that even though I didn’t regularly eat fast food, I ate McDonald’s once during my pregnancy. After a prenatal appointment. As a “treat.” A pregnant woman “deserves” French fries, right?

After I delivered my daughter and started to research and report more on pregnancy nutrition for Fox News, I learned how important pregnancy nutrition really is.

A healthy pregnancy diet will ensure you give your body and your baby what they need. Eating healthy foods and paying attention to portion sizes can help you control your weight gain and lower your risk for certain pregnancy complications and problems after pregnancy.

But what should you eat and what foods should you avoid? Here are 5 diet do’s and don’ts.

5 Pregnancy Diet Do’s

1. DO Get Folic Acid

 

To prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida, it’s important that you get an adequate amount of folate, a B vitamin, and the synthetic version, folic acid both before you get pregnant and especially during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Experts recommend all women—whether they’re hoping to get pregnant or not—take 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement. Although folate isn’t absorbed as well as folic acid, you can get it from foods like beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and legumes and fortified foods like some cereals.

2. DO Curb Sugar

Your sugar cravings might be out of control but eating too much sugar during pregnancy can cause you to gain too much weight, which can increase your risk for gestational diabetes and later type-2 diabetes, pregnancy complications and birth defects.

Being overweight during pregnancy can also make it more difficult to lose the baby weight after you deliver. And studies show babies born to moms who are overweight are more likely to be overweight themselves.

But it’s not only added sugars from desserts, soda or candy that you should limit, but sugar from refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and anything with white flour like processed and packaged snacks.

Read labels carefully and watch how much sugar you’re eating. When you eat grains, stick with whole grains like rolled oats, quinoa and brown rice, for example.

3. DO Eat Whole Foods

Eating a variety of whole foods not only will give you the nutrition you need, but studies show babies’ food preferences start in utero.

So eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and chances are, your baby will be a healthy, adventurous eater when he starts solids.

 

4. DO Drink Up

During pregnancy, you need to drink more water even if you’re constantly in the bathroom. Staying hydrated is how your baby gets all of the nutrients you consume and. can help you prevent urinary tract infections (UTI’s), constipation, headaches and swelling. Of course, you’ll want to drink up if it’s hot outside or after a workout.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends pregnant women drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.

 

5. DO Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies show eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is vital for the development of baby’s brain and retina development. Eating these healthy fats may even determine when your baby is born and prevent postpartum depression, according to a 2010 study in the journal Reviews In Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, are from fish, which can be tough to get if you’re avoiding it because you’re worried about mercury toxicity.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) however, says it’s safe to eat two, 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week. Fish with low levels of mercury include shrimp, salmon, catfish and pollock. Avoid those with high levels of mercury which include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you eat white albacore tuna, limit it to 6 ounces a week.

Pregnancy Diet Don’ts

1. Don’t Eat For Two

A common misconception about pregnancy nutrition is that you should eat for two but that line of thinking may be the reason 47 percent of women gain too much weight during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Keep in mind the foods you eat are certainly important for you and your baby but that doesn’t mean you should be eating twice as much.

In fact, during the first trimester you don’t need to eat extra calories. During your second and third trimesters, you only need an additional 300 to 450 calories a day.

These are guidelines and can vary if you’re underweight or overweight when you become pregnant, so always talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re on target. Also, don’t go crazy counting calories: eat until you’re satisfied, not overly full.

2. Don’t Order That Venti

The research isn’t clear, but some studies suggest that consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy could cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

ACOG recommends pregnant women limit their overall caffeine consumption from all sources including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate, to 200 milligrams a day. To put that in perspective, an 8-ounce regular coffee is 95 milligrams of caffeine so have two and you’re at your max for the day.

I love coffee and tea so when I was pregnant, I referred to this caffeine chart on BabyCenter.com.

3. Don’t Forget You Need More Iron

During pregnancy, you need about double the amount of iron than you did before pregnancy so that your body can make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby.

ACOG recommends 27 milligrams of iron a day which you can likely get from your prenatal vitamin.

But be sure to eat iron-rich foods too like beef, chicken, fish, beans and peas and iron-fortified cereals. Also, eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help your body more efficiently absorb iron. So if you make a vegetarian chili with beans, add in tomatoes, for example.

4. Don’t Eat These Foods

During pregnancy, there are certain foods you should avoid because of the risk of bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause foodborne illness and serious problems for you and your baby. Soft cheeses, lunch meats and raw fish are some but check FoodSafety.gov for a complete list of foods to avoid during pregnancy.

5. Don’t Diet

According to a 2012 survey by SELF magazine and CafeMom.com, nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to restricting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples. Yet whether you’re overweight or on target, the key is to eat healthy and pay attention to portions.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms  Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

10 Healthy Energy-Boosting Foods For New Moms

Between feedings, dirty diapers and everything else you have to do to care for your newborn, you’re exhausted. Although there’s not much you can do to get more sleep, you can beat fatigue with healthy foods that will give you energy.

After my husband and I brought our first child home from the hospital, I remember thinking, “what’s the big deal? I can do this!”

The minute we walked in the door, he actually put on the TV and plopped down on the couch like not much had changed. I even took a hot shower as my daughter slept.

During that first week, I remember telling my mom that I enjoyed waking up at night for feedings! That didn’t last long of course, when reality—and serious fatigue—set in.

If you recently had a baby, suffice to say you’re utterly exhausted. Between late-night feedings, the endless amount of dirty diapers and laundry and everything else you have to do in a day, being a new mom isn’t easy.

Although you may find it tough to eat a meal, eating healthy foods after you’ve had a baby can give you the energy you need to keep up with your newborn and feel the best you can both physically and emotionally. Here are 10 to include.

1. Bananas

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, bananas are a great source of fiber—1 small banana has 2.6 grams. Bananas also have vitamin B6 and potassium, both of which are necessary for the body to make energy.

2. Eggs

Starting your day off on the right foot with a healthy breakfast will keep your blood sugar levels steady, help you feel satiated until lunch and prevent you from feeling hangry at your next meal which can cause you to overeat.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, eggs will you give you the energy boost you need.

Eggs are also quick to scramble, a great addition to virtually any meal and make for a quick and portable snack.

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but it’s because of their high amount of fiber and protein that will give you an energy boost. Three tablespoons has 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber

Add pumpkin seeds to yogurts, smoothies, salads and baked goods.

4. Beans and legumes

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 49 have iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia and cause fatigue.

One of the best sources of iron are beans and legumes. They’re also an excellent source of protein to satisfy your hunger and they have soluble fiber which is digested slowly and gives you a steady source of energy.

5. Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of both protein and healthy fats to help you feel satiated and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

Salmon is easy to cook but if you’re short on time, canned is fine in a pinch.

6. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard and collard greens are all rich in iron and fiber to keep you feeling full and give you energy.

You can serve green leafy vegetables with any meal but one of the easiest ways to get a lot of green leafy vegetables in your diet is to make green juice or a green smoothie.

7. Almonds

One of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms, almonds are a good source of protein, fiber and iron. One ounce of almonds has more than 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 1 milligram of iron.

Almonds can help stave off hunger and they make a great snack especially when you’re on the go.

8. Popcorn

Unlike refined or simple carbohydrates which spike blood sugar, whole grain carbohydrates have fiber which keep blood sugar steady and help you to feel full.

Popcorn, one type of whole grains, is a great alternative to chips or crackers when hunger strikes in the afternoon. Stick with plain popcorn instead of brands made with added butter, salt or cheese.

9. Hummus

Hummus is packed with fiber and protein: a 1/2 cup has 7.9 grams of protein and 6.0 grams of fiber.

Serve hummus with baby carrots, pepper or cucumber slices, or swap it for mayonnaise or mustard on your favorite sandwich.

10. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are one of the best energy-boosting foods for new moms.

Mix chia seeds in smoothies, yogurt, muffins or make chia pudding.