This is the Spark Notes version of how I counsel my clients to eat. I have seen excellent results with those that follow this framework for eating. Right sized babies, lots of energy, less stretch marks and tearing, better moods, better blood pressure, less swelling. Food is not only is fuel (and comfort and pleasure), it is also an epigenetic signal to you body. What you eat instructs your body how to run, when to sleep and what to do. What you eat deeply matters in having a healthy pregnancy, baby and postpartum. Food matters!
It all starts with…..
1-Green leafy and brightly colored VEGGIES.
Try zucchini noodles, veggie frittatas & pizzas, lettuce wraps, grilled bell peppers & guacamole, celery sticks with hummus, sweet onions, baby tomatoes. Veggie soup, veggies juices and green drinks. Make fresh salsa and hearty greek salads. Make veggies your foundation for every meal. Think veggies first. (Confession… if I don’t plan for and prepare veggies first, I don’t eat them at all….)
Wild salmon and fish, cooked shellfish, organic chicken, grass fed beef & organ meat. If you can't afford organic, buy low fat cuts and trim/skim the fat when cooking and add fats like chicken breasts wrapped in bacon or baked in pesto sauce.
Pastured eggs are the perfect food for pregnant women. Eat two eggs a day minimum, pastured if possible. Per serving they are the cheapest source of high quality protein and buying the super high quality organic pastured eggs are quite affordable compared to other foods.
Good vegetarian sources of protein are sprouted grains, mushrooms, greek yogurt, nuts, spirulina, seeds, quinoa, whole potatoes with skins, sprouts, peas, lentils, wild rice, beans and of course....eggs!
Eat a small to moderate amount of protein with EVERY MEAL, especially breakfast. A bagel and cream cheese or a mochaccino is going set you up for spinning or crashing all day long.
3-Healthy FATS with every meal:
Avocados, grass fed butter, egg yolk, nut butter, drippings from grass fed meat, olives, coconut oil, seeds, nuts and cheese. Top your foods with dollops of whole fat yogurt, or dressings made with expeller pressed olive oil or avocado oil. Look for mayonnaise made from avocado oil and coconut oil. For an extra rich treat, use a little cultured cream (sour cream) or organic heavy whipping cream.
If you are only to buy one thing organic, make it your butter, cream and fatty meats. Toxins tend to build up in the fats of animals. Organic meats and fats are very nutritious loaded with ALA and Omega 3s. You dollar goes much further in paying a extra dollars for a pound of organic butter that will last 2 weeks rather than buying a few fruits that will only last a couple days.
eat a little, not a lot of…
4-Fresh or frozen FRUIT.
No more than 2 servings a day unless you are very active and have no blood sugar or weight gain issues. Buy in season and local if possible. Good non-organic options are watermelon, bananas, mangos, kiwis, oranges and grapefruit. Affordable organic fruits are bagged apples, bananas and my favorite, frozen berries. Avoid non-organic thin skinned fruit like grapes, strawberries and peaches to avoid pesticide exposure. Wash all fruits and veggies well before eating.
If you struggle with high blood sugar or want to limit weight gain, choose lower sugar fruits like blueberries, strawberries, crunchy pears, and green tipped bananas. Eat with a healthy fat or protein to make them satiating for a longer stretch and to avoid a blood sugar spike and fall.
Don’t fear, don’t eliminate, but be careful with….
4- Starches and CARBS.
Don't fear carbs. Just keep them unprocessed and small amounts. Everyone, not just gestational diabetics, are more sensitive to carbs and sugars during pregnancy. Throttle them down and you will feel…so…much…better!
Good portion sizes are: 1/2 cup of rice, a tennis ball sized potato or 1 single slice of bread. Enjoy sweet potatoes, potatoes with skins, winter squash, plantains, rice, wild rice, oatmeal without too much sugar, quinoa and seedy/nutty/dark bread and crackers.
Avoid refined carbohydrates like baked goods, pasta, breads, muffins, thick pizza crust. Enjoying an occasional cookie with your tea after a long walk with friends is fine. Eating a big scone or a muffin for breakfast every day? Not so much.
Replace super carby foods with healthy replacements like chia seeds for oatmeal, zoodles for noodles, cauliflower for potatoes.
for an added bonus….
Just a spoonful of probiotic foods with every meal will make a huge difference in your health. Probiotic supplements can be expensive, many have limited shelf life, lack “prebiotics” and can be questionable in efficacy. Fermented foods on the other hand, have been used for thousands of years to improve health.
There are a lot to choose from. Kefir, kombucha, fresh sauerkraut, kim chee, kombucha, pickles and other fresh fermented veggies. Try Bubbies pickles...they are available nationwide. Or even better- find a local producer at your local farmer's market.
Commercial yogurt doesn’t have a lot of probiotics in them since they are pasteurized so don’t rely on them to get the bugs you need. Homemade yogurt is easy to make, packs a probiotic punch and saves you money, too. Consider using your milk allotment from WIC to make big tubs of fresh yogurt. Also try kefir, a fermented milk drink which has more variety and quantity of probiotics than yogurt. You can buy kefir in most grocery stores and it’s also pretty easy to make, too.
THat’s IT! We are Keeping it simple. More to come in future posts!
Prenatal and even preconception nutrition is the foundation of a vibrant, successful pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Take it seriously. It will make a world of difference for you and your family.