The 5 Tips to Eat Healthy While Pregnant
Bridget Ulrich, Registered Dietician and Pregnancy Nutritionist
1. Food Safety Matters.
When it comes to pregnancy, food safety is a top priority! Many of the fun and delicious and convenient foods we ate before pregnancy aren’t necessarily safe to eat when pregnant. Different contaminants in common foods can lead to parasites or even miscarriage while pregnant!
2. Whole Foods Over Supplements.
We humans love to believe we are greater than nature. And yet, with all the advances we have made scientifically, we just cannot beat nature at her game — she has manifested the perfect substances on earth for us to eat.
Our fore-mothers understand the intricate nature of eating and had very specific guidelines for eating what with what, and when. When we tune into that wisdom, supplements are no match for the innate chemical constituents found in our food that works synergistically to improve and maintain our health.
It has often been said of nature that she provides both the poison and the antidote, and in many of our foods, that is absolutely true! When we take away the whole food and try to isolate the “beneficial” component and take that component as a supplement, we are generally short-changing our bodies.
There are very few instances where a supplement is necessary; let me guide you through the murky waters of supplements.
3. Not All Food Is Created Equal
When studies are done testing the benefits of this food over that food, the researchers RARELY tease out the differences between the same food with slight nuanced differences — i.e., organic vs. nonorganic; processed wheat vs. unprocessed wheat; GMO corn vs. non-GMO corn; free-range chickens vs. caged chickens.
The few studies that have been done show dramatic differences between, for example, egg nutrient composition depending on the way the hen was raised, where it was raised, what it was fed, and how it was handled. Imagine that?
Just as you and I can develop nutrient deficiencies which may manifest into health defects, so can animals and plants. We just don’t often see the health defects these organisms develop for a number of reasons.
It is important to make conscious decisions about what food you buy, where you buy it, how you buy it, how you process it, and how you consume it.
4. Protein Quality.
Just as not all food is made equal, neither is all protein made equal. And during the birth year, protein is incredibly important.
We need substantial protein during this period in our lives and we need high quality protein. For those women on vegan and vegetarian diets, it is incredibly important to get guidance on protein.
When our protein intake is insufficient or low quality, it leads to numerous health effects for the pregnant mom during and after pregnancy as well as the baby. Be sure you have the best scientific guidance on what type and how much protein you should eat.
5. Get Tested
More and more research is emerging about understanding the importance of our genetic make-up, particularly when preparing for pregnancy or while pregnant.
In 1997 the United States Public Health Service decided to “help” Americans prevent spinal cord defects by forcing manufacturers of grain products to fortify their foods with folic acid. Since that time, research has emerged pointing to a link between folic acid fortification and potentially detrimental effects to women’s reproductive health.
Many public health initiatives are well-meaning but when they seek to satisfy the needs of all, individual nuances and differences are sacrificed as a result. At this time, health care practitioners are increasingly finding unintended consequences from folic acid fortification. The effects of the folic acid fortification are also being amplified by prenatal vitamins full of folic acid as well.
Most mothers know to get their iron levels tested before and during pregnancy, and their health care providers will be vigilant in drawing this lab. However, it is also important to know where your MTHFR Gene activity stands prior to becoming pregnant.