"The time to begin paying attention to a child's health is long before birth. Even the mother's diet twelve months before conception can influence the child's future health. It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby." (Disease-Proof Your Child, Joel Fuhrman, M.D.)
I thought that I would blog about PREGNANCY NUTRITION- being that I am currently pregnant with my third child. Before I start explaining what I should be eating and why- I would like to ask the question...
Does anyone else find it hard to eat nutritionally excellent while being pregnant?
My first trimester was the hardest. I have great pregnancies over all- the one small side-effect I feel (only in the 1st trimester) is feeling tired most of the day. Combine that with feeling hungrier than usual- makes for some not so good eating days. I have definitely changed my ways and have really tried to focus on eating right…but at times I still feel like I am falling short. I have stayed away from highly processed foods, dairy and I eat animal protein sparingly (all disease causing foods) but am I getting enough of the good stuff?
What is the good stuff?
As you can guess- the best diet for a pregnant woman is a WHOLE FOODS PLANT BASED DIET consisting of Vegetables, Fruits, Beans, Nuts and Seeds. This is the same nutrient dense diet that is recommended for everyone. BUT…there are a few additional foods that are essential when pregnant or nursing.
DHA and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Nutrition for the brain. These nutrients are essential for optimal brain development for the unborn child as well as a nursing infant. Since the brain is mostly made of fat- it makes sense that we need to consume the right fat to help a healthy brain develop.
Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are great examples of great brain food that can maximize human potential. Berries and vegetables are also rich in brain-favorable nutrients.
I try to eat walnuts and flax seeds (ground using my coffee grinder) every day, in addition to a Vegan DHA supplement (purchased from www.drfuhrman.com).
Pregnant women need more daily protein in their diet for growth of muscles, bone, blood vessels and nerves in both mom and baby. The great thing about eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet is that I get plenty of protein when I eat my cooked beans (1 cup cooked beans = 15 grams protein) and my nuts and seeds (15 grams = 1 cup walnuts or ½ cup sunflower seeds), and my dark leafy greens (11 grams per 100 calories).
I try to focus on eating 2 ounces of nuts and seeds daily, have beans in at least one of my meals and always try to eat dark leafy greens- whether in my green drink, in a salad, or mixed in with my meals.
This nutrient is needed to make baby’s teeth and bones. Again- very easy to consume enough calcium when eating a nutrient dense diet. I get my calcium the same way cows get their calcium…green vegetables. Beans, sesame seeds and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without the problems associated with dairy.
I try to focus on eating my GREENS daily and I also take an herbal calcium supplement a couple times of week.
VITAMINS and IRON
Again- all the needed vitamins are found in whole foods. Vitamin A= oranges and leafy greens. Vitamin B = avocados, almonds and leafy greens. Vitamin C = potatoes, citrus fruits and broccoli. Vitamin D = sunshine. Iron = apricots, dark leafy vegetables and raisins.
I try to consume as many vegetables as I can. I also take a multi-vitamin with all these essential vitamins.
In summary...three words: DARK LEAFY VEGETABLES! These are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet (Kale, Collard Greens, Chards, Spinach, Bok Choy, Mustard Greens, etc.) I really want to focus on eating these DAILY!
Eating an optimal diet for pregnancy is very doable when eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. This blog has definitely been good to remind myself what foods are needed. Have I eaten perfectly…No. But I am trying :) My mother gave me great advice that I try to focus on in my daily life: To live in the present- try not to dwell on the past or even look too much to the future. To focus on eating well today... (not being concerned about yesterday or how well I will eat tomorrow) but how good I can take care of myself right now. That's the key when striving to accomplish goals- it really seems to work for me.
LIFE IS GOOD!