Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

TTC? Should you change your diet?

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

woman having breakfastIf you’re trying to conceive (TTC) or thinking about getting pregnant soon, don’t wait until you get a positive pregnancy test to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. Start now.

Did you know that when you get a positive pregnancy test result, you’re already 3 – 4 weeks pregnant? This is why you should treat your body as if you are already pregnant when you are trying to conceive.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s your cheat sheet:

  • Include a multivitamin on your grocery shopping list. Taking a daily multivitamin that contains 400 micrograms of folic acid BEFORE and early in pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spine) in your baby. Don’t wait until you are pregnant – start taking a multivitamin now. When you become pregnant switch to a daily prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid.
  • Here’s more to put on your shopping list: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins. Go ahead and make your plate all the colors of the rainbow. See our guide for details and a sample menu.
  • Cut out alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigs, marijuana and street drugs. These items can be harmful to your baby during pregnancy. By cutting them out now, you don’t have to worry about them when you become pregnant.
  • Talk to your provider about all of the medications you are currently taking to see if any need to be switched to one that is safe to take during pregnancy. Never go off a prescription medication without speaking with your health care provider first.
  • Start limiting your fish and caffeine intake. Eat 8 to 12 ounces a week of fish low in mercury such as shrimp, salmon, Pollock, catfish and canned light tuna or 6 ounces a week of albacore (white) tuna. Limit your caffeine to 200 milligrams a day; this is the amount in 1½ 8-ounce cups of coffee or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. And be sure to read labels on your food products for added caffeine.
  • Stay away from: raw or under cooked meat and eggs, raw fish and all shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Don’t eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, raw sprouts and herbal products like pills and teas. Avoid all unpasteurized products, which may include juice, milk and soft cheeses. See our complete list of foods to avoid.
  • Healthy foods can get expensive; read our guide to food shopping on a budget.

Remember, as you’re trying to conceive, treat your body like you are already pregnant. Making healthy choices now will give you a great start once you become pregnant.

Breastfeeding and your diet

Monday, August 29th, 2016

mom breastfeedingWe received a question from a new mom asking if there are certain things she should eat while breastfeeding. Or more importantly, are there things she should avoid? The answer is that most likely, your milk will be just what your baby needs, even if your diet isn’t perfect. But eating healthy foods is still important in order to take care of yourself and your new baby.

The dietary restrictions you had during your pregnancy will not apply while you are breastfeeding. But you will still need to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and foods containing mercury.

What about allergies?

Most breastfed babies do not have allergic reactions to their mom’s milk. However, the proteins from foods such as cow’s milk and peanuts do pass through breast milk so if your family has a history of food allergies, you may want to discuss this with your Lactation Consultant. If you have a family history of food allergies, be sure to watch your baby for any allergic reactions such as green, mucus-like stools with signs of blood.

So what should you eat? The La Leche League International has these great ideas:

  • A well-balanced diet – choose meals with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins (eg. lean meats, fish and eggs)
  • High-calorie foods – breastfeeding burns calories, so add in peanut or nut butters, olive or canola oils, whole-milk cheeses and yogurts
  • Easy to handle meals – with your baby in one arm you may find yourself only having one hand available to use for feeding yourself. Simple finger food types of meals will be easier to manage.
  • Large recipes – make or ask your family and friends to provide large dishes or casseroles so you can freeze leftovers.

Bottom line:

By breastfeeding you are providing your baby with the best start. And by maintaining a healthy diet you will be better able to take care of yourself, as you tend to your new bundle. if you have questions about your diet while breastfeeding, reach out to a Lactation Consultant.

Satisfying those pregnancy cravings

Friday, March 25th, 2016

SaladAs the temperature rises here on the east coast, I can’t help but think of warm weather and yummy summer foods like ice cream. But while enjoying your cone this season, remember that nutrition is important, especially if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

This month is National Nutrition Month, and this year the theme is to savor the flavor of eating right. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics raises awareness that no one diet is right for everyone. By keeping your lifestyle in mind and focusing on foods and traditions that appeal to you, you can find an eating plan that works for you.

So what does this mean for pregnant women?

Lots of women have food cravings during pregnancy. And it’s usually okay to satisfy those cravings as long as what you eat is safe and you don’t overdo it.

You may have heard that you should be eating from the five food groups: grains, veggies, fruits, milk products and proteins, but what about when you get cravings for crunchy foods and you reach for the potato chips?

Here are some tips:

  • Eat what you crave, but in small amounts. Eating too much of something sweet, spicy or salty can cause problems, such as heartburn or gaining too much weight.
  • Work your cravings to your advantage. If you are craving a crunch, see if some carrots or an apple will satisfy your craving before you reach for the chip bag. Or at least buy the reduced fat kind of chips.
  • Buy single servings instead of in bulk. If you are ready to enjoy some ice-cream, go to your local ice cream shop for a scoop instead of buying a container at the grocery store.
  • Plan your day’s snacks ahead of time. This will help you know what and when you are going to eat between meals and will keep you away from unhealthy convenience foods in a vending machine.
  • If you are trying to stay away from your craving, try distracting yourself by going for a walk or calling a friend.

Not sure if your craving is healthy for your pregnancy? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

New nutrition labels may be coming

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

When I’m grocery shopping, I often find myself looking at the nutrition labels on food packages and trying to make sense of all the information I’m reading. Once I’m home, I end up trying to figure out if the serving size on the label is the actual size of the serving I have on my plate. Thankfully, it looks like things might get a little easier when it comes to eating healthy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing changes to nutrition labels to make it easier for you to know exactly what and how much it is you’re eating. Some of these changes include more emphasis on total calories, added sugars and nutrients such as Vitamin D and potassium. The FDA may also be changing serving sizes to some foods so the nutrition label more accurately shows what most people usually eat. Who drinks half of that 16oz bottled iced tea?

Below is an image of a nutrition label as they are now (on the left), and an image of the new label. What do you think? The FDA says the new label is open to the public for comment for the next 90 days. Share your thoughts!Nutrition labels

Eat healthy during pregnancy and your baby’s bones will thank you later!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

dumb-bell-41Eating healthy during pregnancy doesn’t just help your baby grow while in the womb. More studies are showing that your nutrition during pregnancy benefits your baby later in life.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed over 2,800 women during pregnancy. They found that pregnant women who ate foods rich in protein, vitamin B-12 and phosphorus greatly influenced their babies’ bone health later in childhood. When these babies were around 6 years old, they were more likely to have greater bone mass, which leads to stronger and healthier bones. On the other hand, babies born to mothers who ate foods high in carbohydrates and had higher amounts of homocysteine (a kind of amino acid) in their blood during pregnancy often had lesser bone mass later in life.

This is just one more reason to keep eating healthy during pregnancy. Your baby will thank you for it!

What’s WIC?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.  WIC provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.

The WIC target populations are low-income, nutritionally at risk:
• Pregnant women (through pregnancy and up to 6 weeks after birth or after pregnancy ends).
• Breastfeeding women (up to infant’s 1st birthday)
• Nonbreastfeeding postpartum women (up to 6 months after the birth of an infant or after pregnancy ends)
• Infants (up to 1st birthday). WIC serves 53 percent of all infants born in the United States.
• Children up to their 5th birthday.

WIC participants have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births than those in these categories who do not participate.

If you think you or someone you know may be eligible to receive WIC services or you just want to find out more, visit the WIC website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/. The WIC Prescreening Tool can be used to determine if you may be eligible for WIC benefits. This Prescreening Tool is not an application for WIC, however. To apply for WIC benefits, you must make an appointment at your WIC local agency and you can find your local agency on the WIC site.

Healthy pregnancy diet

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Dr. Siobhan Dolan goes food shopping to talk about the essential nutrients pregnant women need, and provides tips to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.

Running out of steam? Don’t forget to eat

Monday, September 13th, 2010

appleSounds odd, but some of us are so busy taking care of the small fry, not to mention the older medium and large fry and/0r work, that time flies by and we forget to eat.  When I forget, I usually end up with a wicked headache. Here are some tips for healthy and quick eats for Mom.

• Hard-boiled eggs (protein’s a power house)
• Hummus scooped up with pita chips or sliced carrots, celery, peppers (keep a big bag of them in the fridge for diving into whenever the mood strikes)
• Low-fat cheese (kids love string cheese… so do I!)
• Yogurt mixed with cereal and diced fruits
• Fruit smoothies with yogurt in them
• Water, lots of water
• Whole grain crackers
• Low-fat bran muffin
• Dried fruits and nuts (I keep some in my car)
• An apple a day… what can I say? (except maybe banana)

Can my baby and I stay healthy on a vegetarian diet during pregnancy?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

grains-and-veggiesActually, yes, but it takes some work.  The American Dietetic Association says that well-balanced, vegetarian diets can be very healthy. The trick is to make sure you take in adequate daily amounts of protein and other nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iron, and essential fatty acids.

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, your daily diet should include:
• 1-2 servings of dark green vegetables
• 4-5 servings of other vegetables and fruit
• 3-4 servings of bean and soy products (worried about gas?)
• 6 or more servings of whole grain products
• 1-2 servings of nuts, seeds and wheat germ
• 4 servings of vitamin B12 fortified foods
• 15 minutes of sunshine on your face and arms or 200 IU of vitamin D
• 8 servings (1200-1500 mg) of calcium-rich foods
• Iron-rich foods

There are some excellent books on vegetarian diets specifically written for pregnant women, so visit your local bookstore or look online.  Talk to your health care provider about your diet before you conceive.  Discuss the foods you eat, the nutrients they supply and any possible supplements your doctor may want you to take.

Which diet should I choose?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

donuts-smSouth Beach. Atkins. Weight Watchers. Dean Ornish. The list goes on and on. So many diets, so little time. What’s a girl to do?

Turns out, it doesn’t matter much. That’s what Harvard researchers found out when they conducted one of the best studies ever done on diets and weight loss.

They looked at three kinds of diets: low carb, low fat and reduced animal protein. (Reduced animal protein means you eat less meat, chicken and pork. You get most of your protein from other sources like tofu and nuts.)

After 2 years, each diet group lost (and regained!) about the same amount of weight.

Bottom line:  If you reduce calories, you lose weight.

So if you’re trying to lose weight before you get pregnant, you’ve got lots of diet choices available to you. But some are healthier than others. Talk to your health care provider and pick a diet that works for you and your lifestyle.

If you’re already pregnant, now’s not the time to lose weight. Most women need about 300 extra calories a day during pregnancy, so they get the nutrients the baby needs.

Here are some March of Dimes resources that can help:

* Before You’re Pregnant: Getting Ready Physically
* Don’t U Dare (a video for women before pregnancy)
* Weight Gain During Pregnancy
* Pregnancy and the Overweight Woman
* Healthy Choices: Nutrition and Diet During Pregnancy (video)