You are what you eat. During pregnancy, so is your baby. Your body’s incredible ability to renew itself is nothing short of miraculous. You can be excited to know that every sixteen days your body replaces all of it’s water content. Water makes up approximately 72% of the human body, so in a very real way there is a nearly new you every two weeks. The lining in the stomach and intestine are replaced every four days. The skin is replaced every four weeks. The liver replaced every six weeks. Your body needs carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water to complete these processes, and it gets these nutrients from the foods that you eat. The quality of the nutrients you put in your body, determines the health of every cell. What does this mean for you pregnant mommas? During pregnancy you are making a person. Don’t you want to make a healthy person?
You can be empowered to know that the nutrition you take in can improve your baby’s health and even change her temperament. Food is important. There is growing evidence that what you consume during pregnancy can actually alter the way your baby’s genetic code is read. The food you eat can provide a path toward your baby’s heart health, long life and healthy organ development or it can potentially put your child at more risk for developing obesity, heart disease and diabetes. In fact, during the last weeks of pregnancy you are helping your baby develop a taste for the foods you are eating, again making your eating choices critically important. Are you creating a tendency for your baby to love the flavor of vegetables, fruits and herbs or are you helping your child develop a taste for sugary sweets and foods rich in fat and sodium?
When we know better, we do better. How then do we do make better food choices when we live in a society that is so heavily influenced by clever and deceptive marketing? Knowing what foods to buy and eat during pregnancy is downright confusing. Making this even more challenging is the fact that even what we consider to be healthy food is often still packed with less than healthy ingredients. You may be interested to know that food can be labeled as “healthy” or “natural” even if it is packed with unhealthy ingredients. As a pregnant mother, it is your responsibility and a loving act towards yourself to begin to be a better consumer of food. Start by reading the labels on any packaged foods you buy. If you don’t recognize the ingredients, can’t pronounce the ingredients or if there are more than five ingredients listed, it is probably not a wise choice to make. You might just try to minimize your overall exposure to any pre-packaged foods.
Why? You will have the potential to feel better, have more energy, sleep better and know that you are investing in your family’s long-term health and happiness.
Try shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. This is where the produce, fresh meats and whole grains tend to be located. Grocery stores want to you buy the expensive packaged foods so they place them in the most convenient areas at eye level. The healthy foods are often placed in out of the way. Avoid the center aisles and veer towards your right or left and hang out in the produce area. Load up on what is on sale here (it’s often what is in season, as well). Then walk to the fresh meat section and select some wild caught fish or organic meat as a small side. Make a goal to have vegetables be the highlight of your meal and animal proteins are a just small side. Want an additional side for your veggies and meat? Don’t head to the pre-packaged food area. Instead find where the bulk grains are located in your store. Try some quinoa, barley or whole long grain rice. These sides combined with some vegetable broth and some nuts or cut up vegetable make a delicious and deeply nourishing side that will do wonders for your baby’s growth.
Remember these shopping tips during pregnancy:
- Choose foods that will rot! (Avoid packaged foods laden with preservatives that can stay on your shelf for months, even years)
- Select deep green, and richly colored vegetables and fruits. These darker, brighter fruits and vegetables tend to have more antioxidants and micronutrients for your baby.
- When selecting animal proteins choose organic or wild caught to avoid meat that is laden with antibiotics, hormones and pesticides.
- Think pre-packaged foods save you time? Healthy foods can be time savers when you make a double or triple batch and season it with fresh herbs and spices and healthy oil. You will have several servings for later in the week that is already made and delicious!
Make eating during pregnancy a time when you treat yourself and your baby with love and respect by eating foods that will nourish you. And, remember, dark chocolate has several benefits for pregnant mommas, so feel free to enjoy an orange and a square of dark chocolate for your next snack!