Must-Haves for the Expecting Mother!
Happy Monday everyone! Being pregnant is a wonderful time in your life and introduces many changes to your body. Newsflash: you are now eating for two! Time to re-evaluate what’s in your pantry; clean out the bad and bring in the good. Ditch the 4 Pregnancy “no-no’s” and stock up on the 6 must-haves to have a solid pantry while you are expecting.
Clear ‘Em Out! These 4 foods bring zero benefits to you and your child.
- Animal Proteins Animal proteins are not 100% safe for human consumption, which must mean they can’t be safe for an expecting mother and growing baby! Meats, fish, poultry and yes, even dairy, can contain toxic substances along with added hormones and antibiotics that can harm you and your baby. Fish can contain high levels of mercury that can lead to neurological problems; dairy products made with unpasteurized milk harbors a dangerous bacteria called listeria that can do some serious damage to you and the baby (fever, nausea, muscle aches and even infant mortality). Best to become one with nature and stick to a plant based diet.
- Alcohol/Caffeine Probably the biggest no-no in the book, alcohol especially can be extremely dangerous to fetal development. Some doctors say one glass every once in a while is okay, but remember: caffeine and alcohol can pass through the placenta to the fetus. Consumption of these two liquids have shown to raise heart rate and blood pressure, as well as lead to developmental and behavioral issues such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Better be safe than sorry and suck it up for nine months.
- White, Refined Grains Brown is the new white. Get rid of all grains white and refined in your kitchen; I’m talking flour, rice, bread, sugar, pasta. Replace those with oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, millet and ezekiel breads. Studies show that these carbs that break down into simple sugars can cause insane spikes in your blood sugar, putting stress on your body that can negatively affect the baby’s development. Doesn’t help that these grains cause constipation and have close to no nutritional value as well. Buh-bye!
- Artificial Flavors, Additives and Colors Artificial anything is not supposed to be consumed by anyone! Artificial coloring has been linked to cancers and chromosomal damage in developing babies; artificial additives, or processed foods, have been linked to high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease; artificial sweeteners are not even recognized by the body so therefore are not digested. Trust me, I can go on forever! Just know this: artificial products prove no nutritional value to us, pregnant or not. Stick with natural foods that your body can handle and you’ll be good to go.
Stock Up! The more of these foods, the merrier. Each food on this list is packed with nutritional goodness!
- Leafy Greens Who knew that a prenatal vitamin came in leaf form? Kale, spinach, romaine, collard greens – the list goes on, and they all contain the essential vitamins and minerals for an expecting mother. Folate? Check. Calcium? Check. Vitamins A, B, C, K, Magnesium, and Fiber? Check all those bad boys off. These dark, leafy vegetables don’t get enough credit for all that they do. Incorporate these into your everyday diet via smoothies, salads, veggie chips, etc. As an added bonus, these greens balance out any cramping due to their “expansive” properties. Get your green thumb on!
- Chia Seeds Get those Omega-3’s in with a daily dose of chia! Just 2 tablespoons contain omega-3 fatty acids, all nine essential amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, and essential minerals that are sometimes hard to get in via diet (I’m talking calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, manganese, copper, iron, zinc and niacin – phew!). All of the above are crucial to your baby’s development, from bones to brain to eyes! Throw some in your oatmeal, mix in a smoothie or top a salad.
- Berries Who doesn’t love a good berry? Packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium, berries are a convenient and beneficial snack to always have on hand. With so many berries to choose from, you’ll never get bored trying to satisfy your sweet tooth. Have some fun and try going exotic with goji and acai berries! Choose organic though to keep the pesticides away.
- Beans Meet your new BFF. Beans contain high levels of protein and folate, two of the most important nutrients for a soon to be momma! Garbanzo, kidney, black, white, red, navy – they all got what you need and are super easy to store. Stock up on cans to always have these prenatal power foods on hand. Whip up some veggie burgers, homemade hummus, or black bean salad to keep the beans exciting.
- Coconut Oil Move over olive oil! Coconut oil is the latest and greatest, packing in more benefits than you could imagine. The oil from this fruit contains lauric and capric acid, which actually makes up 20% of breast milk. It also has antiviral, antibacterial and parasitical properties that will help the baby’s immune system. Coconut oil doesn’t have a coconut taste, so feel free to use it for cooking or baking.
- Fresh or Dried Herbs & Natural Sweeteners Just because you’re giving up artificial sweeteners and flavors does not mean you have to compromise on taste. Use fresh herbs to create a savory dish (without all the added sodium) and natural sweeteners (honey, maple sugar flakes, etc.) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Pregnancy hormones can cause crazy cravings so it’s important to have these on hand to get your fix.
Following these guidelines will help jumpstart the process on converting your old pantry into a pregnant friendly and health beneficial one. Moral of the story: A plant-based, organic diet is the best you can give yourself, and your baby. Remember, the more natural the food, the better! My rule of thumb is: Look at the ingredient list. If there is an ingredient there that you can’t pronounce or wouldn’t buy separately to cook with (ex: maltodextrin) then it is not meant for your body and should be put back on the shelf.
Good luck on your makeovers!
Written by: Leana Vavella