7 Best Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

7 Best Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

When one of my friends was pregnant with her first child, like all new moms, she tried to do everything she could to have a healthy pregnancy, including eating right.

She talked to her doctor about her diet and read a book about a pregnancy nutrition.

But with all of the recommendations about getting plenty of protein, iron and calcium for example, she started to worry about getting enough of every nutrient and she ended up gaining 60 pounds!

Although your diet is really important for both you and your baby, all of the pregnancy nutrition advice can seem overwhelming and make you crazy.

Instead of worrying about following a set of rules, eating the “right” foods, and getting a certain amount of nutrients in your diet, stick to the basics.

Here are my best pregnancy nutrition tips and general recommendations that can go a long way in having a healthy pregnancy.

1. Get folic acid

Folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, is a must-have nutrient for a healthy pregnancy because it prevents neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida and anencephaly.

Although many women think they should start taking folic acid when they first see the plus sign on a pregnancy test, it’s important to take it before you even plan to become pregnant and especially during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Since nearly 50 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, experts recommend all women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement daily.

Although folate isn’t absorbed as well as folic acid, it’s still a good idea to 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. Don’t eat for two

The advice that you need to eat for two when you’re pregnant is outdated and incorrect.

In fact, following this advice may be why 47 percent of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, according to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and sleep apnea, preterm birth, birth defects, problems during labor and delivery, and is linked to a higher risk for c-sections.

Research also suggests babies born to obese moms are more likely to be overweight themselves and may be at risk for poor developmental outcomes.

Excess weight gain can also make it harder to lose the weight after you give birth.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories.

If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calories for a healthy weight gain.

3. Limit fake food

A whole foods diet can help ensure you get the right amount of nutrition to support your health and your baby’s growth and development.

Instead of fast food, processed foods and foods with refined carbohydrates, focus on getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, clean sources of protein, whole grains and healthy fats.

Since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy and you may feel more tired than usual, eating real food will give you the energy you need.

Whole foods are also more satiating, so you’ll be less likely to overeat and gain too much weight.

4. Get your omega-3s

Fish is an important source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for your baby’s brain development.

In fact, a 2016 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found eating more servings of seafood each week was associated with higher cognitive scores and a decrease in symptoms of Autism.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 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.

If you can’t stomach fish, try adding other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, DHA-fortified milk or peanut butter, or talk to your doctor about taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement.

5. Eat enough

Although many women gain too much weight during pregnancy, there are also those that may go in another dangerous direction.

In fact, a 2012 survey by SELF magazine and CafeMom.com found nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to cutting 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.

If you’re unsure of what to eat—and how much—consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in pregnancy nutrition.

6. Eat iron-rich foods

In order for your body to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby, you need about double the amount of iron during pregnancy than you did before you became pregnant.

ACOG recommends 27 milligrams of iron a day which you can likely get from your prenatal vitamin, but it’s also a good idea to eat iron-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans and peas and iron-fortified cereals.

Eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can also help your body absorb iron more efficiently.

7. Don’t stress

The thing about pregnancy nutrition is that no matter how well-intentioned you are to eat healthy, your pregnancy may not go as you had planned.

Whether you’re dealing with morning sickness or something more serious like gestational diabetes, you may have to tweak your diet.

My advice: eat whole, healthy foods and follow your nutritionist’s advice, but don’t stress.

Being a calm mama is so much more important than adhering to a strict list of pregnancy rules.

5 Homemade Baby Food Myths—Busted

5 Homemade Baby Food Myths—Busted

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

When my daughters were babies, there was nothing more that I enjoyed than making homemade baby food.

After pouring over recipes in The Baby and Toddler Cookbook, and discovering amazing new flavor combinations of fruits and vegetables, risotto dishes and stews, I loved steaming, pureeing and serving them up to my little ones.

Making your own homemade baby food is one of the best things you can do for your child and a great way to set him up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Despite the fact that homemade baby food is fresher (just look at the colors of each and you’ll be convinced!), healthier, and way more tasty than store-bought, homemade baby has been given a bad rep for being too time consuming and more expensive to make, but nothing could be further from the truth. 

Here, learn 5 of the most common homemade baby food myths and why they’re totally wrong.

 

 

Myth #1: Homemade baby food takes too much time


Between the shopping, washing, prepping, cooking and pureeing that’s required, many moms think it’s simply too time consuming to make homemade baby food.

Sure, it’s much easier to throw some jars or pouches into your shopping cart, but it’s actually not as time consuming as you might think.

I’d say it took me anywhere between 1 to 3 hours a week.

And since my husband was totally on board too and pitched in, it was even faster.

If you make your baby’s food in bulk and freeze it or make a few batches throughout the week, it won’t become a part-time job.

If you decide to freeze it, the more storage cubes you have, the less time you’ll spend.

Although the baby food makers are handy, a larger unit like the Vitamix can make more at one time.

Looking for more ways to save time? Read my blog, How to Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast.

Myth #2: Homemade Baby Food Is More Expensive

I used to think that making purees was more expensive, especially because I was buying mostly organic ingredients.

Yet making it from scratch surprisingly yields a lot from single fruits and vegetables.

According to Liz Huber, Founder of Sage Spoonfuls, it’s about three times less expensive!

Another way to save is to shop in season and hit the local farmer’s market, when food is also freshest.

Also, look for deals at club membership stores or buy frozen foods, which 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.

Myth #3: Homemade Baby Food Is Too Hard To Make

When I became a mom, I had very limited skills as a home chef. I could scramble eggs, pop salmon in the oven or sauté some vegetables, but that was about it.

You might feel intimidated to make your baby’s food because you think it’s too hard, but if you can do all the other things you do as a mom, it will be a breeze.

The key is to have the right tools on hand. I recommend basic kitchen gear like:

  • A cutting board
  • Knives: a pairing knife for peeling and a chef’s knife for chopping. I love Wustof knives.
  • A steamer basket, pot and lid
  • A blender and/or immersion blender
  • Ice cube trays
  • Small storage containers
  • Storage freezer bags

Anything else, like a sheet pan for roasting veggies, you probably already have on hand.

Myth #4: Homemade baby food isn’t as safe as store-bought

It’s true that store-bought baby food is heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria and extend shelf life, but it doesn’t make them immune to recalls and other issues. 

In fact, in 2016 Gerber recalled two types or organic baby food due to a packaging defect that could cause them to spoil during transport or handling.

And more recently, a Consumer Reports’ investigation found concerning levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in baby food, and organic foods were just as likely to have it as conventional foods.

You might be worried about food borne illness and food poisoning, but one of the best ways to prevent it is to follow some basic food hygiene guidelines: wash your hands, your utensils and appliances, and rinse produce under clean, running water before peeling it.

Also, use separate cutting boards for produce and meat, a meat thermometer to make sure the food is properly cooked, and always store food properly.

The FDA also recommends avoiding ingredients like raw, unpasteurized milk and honey in infants under 1. Always check with your pediatrician about how and when to safely introduce allergenic foods like nuts.

Myth #5: Homemade baby food is inconvenient

Jars and pouches are easy to throw in your diaper bag, bring to daycare or take on a road trip.

But if you store baby food in individual, grab and go containers or re-usable pouches after you make it, it’s just as convenient as store-bought.

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

You’ve heard the old saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when it comes to our kids, most don’t eat it.

According to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, only about one-third of kids eat breakfast every day, 17 percent never eat breakfast and the rest only eat breakfast a fews days a week.

If your kid doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning, doesn’t have time for breakfast or doesn’t like what you’re serving, don’t give up.

Here, learn some simple strategies to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast every day.

1. Make breakfast family time

If you’re rushed in the morning to get your kids out the door and they’re feeling the pressure, they may feel too anxious to eat breakfast.

Instead of stressing out, carve out enough time for breakfast, even if it means the beds don’t get made or the dishes are left in the sink.

You can also make breakfast an opportunity to spend some quality time as a family together, especially if you don’t eat dinner as a family.

Read a Bible verse, ask your kids what they’re grateful for, or talk about your plans for the weekend. 

2. Don’t eat a late dinner

After-school activities can make it tough to eat dinner on time, but if your kids are eating dinner late, they may not be hungry for breakfast.

Try to feed your kids before you head out to activities and discourage after-dinner snacking so they’ll have an appetite come morning.

3. Do some easy meal prep

If there’s no time to make breakfast in the morning, make it ahead of time.

Set aside individual re-sealable bags of fruits and veggies for smoothies, make overnight oats or parfaits in mason jars, boil a batch of hard-boiled eggs, or make a frittata, egg casserole, or egg “muffins” at the beginning of the week or the night before. 

4. Let them decide

Cereal and toast are easy options for breakfast but if your kid is more likely to eat leftovers for breakfast, then go with it.

Pair a protein with veggies or a piece of fruit, serve soup, or mix leftover rice with coconut milk, nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to break out of the breakfast rut.

Another way to give kids choices is to make something easy like oatmeal, and then let your kid choose the spices, nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruit.

5. Wake up earlier

Little kids are up early anyway, but if your kids are older and they like to sleep in until the last possible minute, they probably don’t eat breakfast because there’s no time.

An easy fix? Try moving their bedtime back a half an hour or so until they can wake up in time.

6. Take the lead

No surprise here, but only 47 percent of adults in the U.S. eat breakfast every day, according to a 2015 survey by Instantly.

Although you may think mornings are hectic enough, carving out time to eat a healthy breakfast may encourage your kids to do the same.

7. Serve a morning snack

If your kid isn’t a breakfast eater, stick to small bites.

Serve 4 or 6 ounces of a green smoothie, apple slices with almond butter, mini muffins, energy bites or raw vegetables with hummus.

What are some of your tricks to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast? Let me know in the comments.

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

7 Nutrition Mistakes All Parents Make

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

We all want our kids to eat healthy, but between food marketing, brands that tout health claims and some outdated advice from experts, deciding what to feed your kids and what to avoid can be challenging.

Although most of us are well intentioned and try our best to offer healthy foods, there are still some common nutrition mistakes all parents make that can affect kids’ health now, and well into the future. Here are 7.

Nutrition mistake #1: Serving only “breakfast foods” for breakfast

Let’s face it: if you have young kids, mornings are stressful.

I get it.

Most mornings, I’m up at 5am to pray, read a devotional and enjoy a cup of coffee—and quiet—before my kids get up.

Once they’re awake however, it’s always a mad rush to feed them breakfast, get them ready and on the bus.

Cereal and toast are definitely easy and quick options for breakfast, but serving the same ‘ol breakfast foods every day can be a missed opportunity to get nutrition into your kid’s diet. Not to mention—it can get boring.

If you think out of the [breakfast] box and offer new types of foods, kids can also become healthier, more adventurous eaters.

Since lunch and dinner may be the only time kids are offered vegetables, breakfast is another chance to get them into your kid’s diet. The more you offer vegetables, the more likely your kid will be to eat them.

It’s not necessary to re-invent the wheel every day, but try to change things up a few times a week. Add leftover veggies to scrambled eggs, make chia seed or pumpkin pudding the night before, pull together a bean burrito or serve baked tempeh instead of toast, for example. 

Nutrition mistake #2: Filling up on processed snacks

We must recognize that our kids are growing—physically, mentally and emotionally—and what we feed them should be real, whole foods packed with nutrition to fuel that growth.

Bags of crackers, chips, cookies and other snack foods are easy to throw in a lunch box or pack when you’re on the go.

But processed snacks are usually made with refined carbohydrates and are high in sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. They also lack the protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals kids need.

Do your best to avoid processed foods and instead, stick to whole foods for snacks. For ideas, check out my blog post, Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much

Nutrition mistake #3: Thinking all yogurt is healthy

Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which promotes satiety and can prevent weight gain. It’s also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12 as well as probiotics, the healthy bacteria that boost kids’ gut health and strengthens their immune systems.

Yet many yogurts, those that are marketed to kids or otherwise, are also sneaky sources of sugar.

Yogurts with pretzels, candy and crushed cookies are obvious sources, but those that are blended with fruit can also be high in sugar.

Read labels carefully and stick to brands with less than 11 grams of sugar, according to nutritionist Joy Bauer.

Siggi’s is one of my favorites for kids. Or serve plain Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit for a hint of sweetness and fiber.

Nutrition mistake #4: Missing sneaky sources of sugar

You already know to limit foods that are obvious sources of sugar like candy, cookies and ice cream, but sugar is sneaky and can hide behind at least 61 different names like fruit juice, cane sugar, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Foods like dried fruit, canned fruit and fruit cups, salad dressings, BBQ sauce, ketchup, juice, sports drinks, granola, instant oatmeal and cereal can all be sneaky sources of sugar.

Nutrition mistake #5: Avoiding all types of fat

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. and as a result, parents are consistently told to limit the amount of fat in their kids’ diets and serve low-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat, for example.

Although experts say trans fats and some saturated fats should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods like fish, avocado, nuts and seeds and olive oil are all essential to kids health.

Nutrition mistake #6: Labeling foods “good” or “bad”

Labeling foods “good” or “bad” can turn mealtime into a power struggle and make your kid want the poor choices even more.

Teaching kids about healthy eating includes teaching balance. So although there are healthier choices, it’s OK to indulge in sweets and junk food.

When food is off limits, it can also create the same unhealthy eating habits many adults struggle with down the line.

Instead, talk to your children about making healthy choices and why they matter. For example, choosing celery sticks with almond butter will give your kid the energy she needs for sports while a bag of crackers will cause her to crash.

Nutrition mistake #7: Cutting carbs

Low carb diets like keto are all the rage for people looking to lose weight, but cutting some carbohydrates from a kid’s diet is a nutrition mistake. Check out my blog post, Is Keto Safe For Kids?

Refined carbohydrates like those found in white breads, pastas and rice and processed foods should be limited because they break down into simple sugars easily, cause blood sugar levels to spike and don’t satiate hunger—which might be one of the reasons your kid is always hungry.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, provide kids with the energy they need and support their muscle growth and brain development. They also take longer to break down, which keeps blood sugar levels steady.

Complex carbs are also high in fiber which satisfy hunger and prevent constipation.

Offer a variety of foods with complex carbohydrates including vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes, fruits like berries, apples and pears, beans and legumes and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa which are also high in B vitamins, magnesium and iron.

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

5 Foods With Healthy Fats Kids Will Love

The long-standing myth that eating fat causes high cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain has been debunked and we now know that healthy fats are essential to our health and our kids.

Fats are a vital source of energy for our kids and help satisfy their hunger. Fats are essential for healthy cell membranes, they support kids’ brains and the growth and development of their nervous systems, and help their bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins like  A, D, E, and K. Fat are also necessary to make hormones and immune cells and they help regulate inflammation and metabolism.   

While experts agree it’s the trans fats and some saturated fats that should be avoided, foods with healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from whole foods are beneficial.

Here are 5 foods with healthy fats you should consider getting in your kid’s diet.

1. Avocado

Avocado is a super-food because the polyunsaturated fats are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy and for babies and children.

Avocado also packs in a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.

A good source of fiber, avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Avocado also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processes speed, one study found.

Add avocado to salads, make avocado toast or an avocado chocolate pudding.

2. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

In fact, chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, mix them into oatmeal, incorporate them into your favorite baking recipes or make a chia seed pudding.

A word of caution: young children shouldn’t eat chia seeds because of the risk of  an obstruction in the esophagus.

3. Walnuts

The only nut with a significant source of  alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts are a great way to get healthy fats in your kid’s diet.

An excellent source of magnesium and phosphorus, one ounce of walnuts also have 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber which will satisfy your kid’s hunger and give him plenty of fuel during the day.

Walnuts make for an easy, healthy snack, or add them to salads, savory meals or mix them into breads, muffins and other baked goods.

4. Olives

Most of the healthy fats in olives (a fruit), are oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Olives are also a good source of vitamin e, selenium and zinc.

Add olives to salads, pasta or rice dishes or make an olive tapenade kids can snack on before dinner.

5. Sunflower Seeds

An ounce of sunflower seeds has 14 grams of fat, including omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.

Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals, as well as magnesium and selenium.

Add sunflower seeds to salads, on top of yogurt or make your own healthy trail mix.