Kayla Skinner RN, BSN
Healthy eating in pregnancy
Hello ladies, fall is officially upon us! While the fall season brings wonderful weather and the perfect photo ops, it also brings delicious food and tendencies to overeat! Proper nutrition is so important in pregnancy. Let’s dive into reasons why overeating in pregnancy is not good for you or for baby!
A brief history
For centuries now women have been giving birth and gaining weight. So you might ask, what’s the big deal? What’s changed? To answer that we must take a completely holistic look at what has changed in our culture. Beginning in 1994 the first genetically modified organism hit grocery stores, otherwise known as GMOs. The GMO market rapidly grew and now we find GMOs in almost most everything we eat. A GMO has been genetically engineered and according to Wikipedia, “does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” In other words, GMOs have been produced in a lab for the purpose of yielding desired traits; desired traits are the preservation of food, and crops being able to withstand droughts or insects. Several countries have actually banned GMOs. With all that being said, I understand it can be very expensive to eat organic and non-GMO foods. But I say all of this to point out that our food climate has changed dramatically over the last twenty to thirty years. So, we must change and adapt to the environment we are in. We are seeing most of the food we eat has a much longer shelf life with several added preservatives. I challenge you to start paying attention to expiration dates – it is often disturbing how long our food can last these days.
Practicing Mindfulness in today’s food climate
You are likely consuming GMOs in most of the food you eat. That means you must thoroughly wash/rinse your fruits and veggies (and by the way, you need at least 2-3 cups a day of fruits and 2-3 cups a day of vegetables.) Getting in your daily dose of fruits and vegetables also helps build immunity and ward off sickness – hello cold and flu season!
In pregnancy you have a higher chance of being anemic which is a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Combat anemia by eating foods rich in iron such as beans, eggs, leafy green veggies, low-fat or lean meats, and whole grains.
Fiber is another great source of nutrition. Not only does it make you feel full but also helps you digest what you eat. Fruits and veggies are great sources of fiber – and let us not forget pregnancy can also cause constipation. Eat a more fibrous diet to ward off constipation!
Protein is great in pregnancy for energy to grow baby and repair/build tissue. Eat lean meats, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, and peas.
Calcium is a necessity for bone growth and healthy teeth, for both mama and baby. You can find calcium in milk, cheese, yogurt, and green leafy veggies.
Folic Acid is essential in pregnancy to prevent congenital defects in the baby. Most prenatal vitamins contain 400mcg of folic acid. You can also eat fortified bread or pasta, orange juice, nuts, beans, and leafy green veggies for an extra supplement of folic acid.
You do NOT need to “eat for two.” That is an old wives’ tale that can have detrimental effects on a pregnancy. Gaining too much weight in pregnancy can lead to several complications but the most common are gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Both complications can lead to significant disparities such as maternal/infant mortality and are both major contributors to preterm birth. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in the first trimester there is no need for any extra added calories. In the second trimester at 14 weeks you may begin adding 340 extra calories a day, and 450 extra calories in the third trimester at 28 weeks. You will need to double that for twins, for example 680 added calories in the second trimester and 900 added calories in the third trimester.
The key is to use these calories wisely, do not eat empty calories such as junk food; instead, eat healthy fats such as nuts, meat, beans, and avocados. Use these calories as fuel to keep you going and sustain your energy to grow baby. It is possible to feel good in pregnancy and starting with the right diet you can do it!
You are strong. You are valued. YOU CAN DO THIS!
I am in this with you & I am here to serve you
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. (2020, June). Nutrition During Pregnancy. Retrieved October 26, 2020, from https://www.acog.org/en/Womens%20Health/FAQs/Nutrition%20During%20Pregnancy
Genetically modified organism. (2020, October 22). Retrieved October 26, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism