Saturday, August 7, 2010

Real Food and Pregnancy

I'm 25 weeks pregnant with my second child. The pregnancies have been similar. I started out heavier (I was still breastfeeding when I got pregnant, and I hadn't lost all the baby weight), but I've gained weight more slowly. Being completely candid, I'm not the best at eating right while pregnant. So many things sound gross to me and for other things, I have a insatiable hunger. I've ended up eating too much sugar and too little produce, and I blame it on my first trimester of only being able to stomach grains. However, even with my many eating "sins", there are a few things that I try to do diligently, because I believe that they are essential to a healthy pregnancy.

My Essential Pregnancy Foods:
1) Whole Milk
Pregnancy completely depletes your body of calcium, and pregnant women should eat as many calcium-rich foods as possible! The stories of women with severe tooth decay during pregnancy completely gross me out. I craved milk like nothing else when I was pregnant with my oldest son, and I drank it to my heart's content. When I went to the dentist near the end of my pregnancy, my dentist said I had some of the healthiest looking "pregnant teeth" he's ever seen.

So, give in to the dairy craving! If you don't prefer milk (and I recommend whole, because the fats are essential to your little baby's brain development), give yogurt, cheese, broccoli, or broth a try. Yes, I said broth. Broth is a very rich source of calcium. In cultures that aren't particularly fond of milk, like Asian cultures, they traditionally eat broth at every meal! Eat as much calcium as you crave, and probably more!

2) Healthy Fats and Protein
I know that sounds gross, but I really have a hard time eating meat while pregnant. It really ruins my appetite to cook it, and I often don't eat the dinners I cook. However, healthy fat and protein are essential. You are building a child, and, if you breastfeed, everything you eat and drink will sustain that child well beyond the delivery. A baby's brain needs lots and lots of fat. Wild Salmon is a great, low in mercury choice for healthy fats. I also never feel bad about indulging in a piece of homemade bread with lots of butter and a big hunk of cheese on the side. Fat and protein will also help you crave the carby, sugary foods less.

Also, don't skip the salad dressing or the butter on your veggies! Your body needs the fat to absorb the nutrients in the vegetables. Eating a salad with fat-free dressing or your veggies steamed with nothing on them is a waist, a moot point. It's a waist of money and time, because your body doesn't actually get anything from your food. Generally, produce costs more than crap. So, if you are spending the money on veggies, get your money's worth and put a little butter on it.

3) Water
I'll go ahead and admit, I was a little better with this one when I was pregnant with Owen. It was cold and dry outside, and I was talking and singing all day long. I drank water like it was going out of style. I'd fill up my water bottle 3 times before lunch, and another 5 or 6 times after that. Sufficed to say, I was in the bathroom a LOT! But, water is great for you and baby. Your blood volume has increased 40% and your making amniotic fluid. Drink lots of water to help bring down swelling as well. As soon as I start feeling swollen, I begin downing water and it usually brings down the swelling most of the way, if not completely. Your body retains water if you aren't drinking enough. So, drink a lot of water!

There are lots of other things that are good to eat while pregnant. Produce is essential! You should eat lots of it every day. Fiber-rich foods will help you "go", since constipation is one of the most pleasant things about pregnancy. Cutting down on sugar and carbs will increase energy, but don't feel bad about indulging in a bowl of ice cream every now and then. It's not a completely empty food, like a potato chip. Rich in calcium and fat, it does have a few things you need. If you are going to buy ice cream, go for the vanilla bean. It usually has the fewest added ingredient. Add a little cinnamon and some pecans and enjoy! (But not too much! It still has lots of sugar!)

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