A Guide to Optimal Wellness in the Childbearing Year – Nutrition for the Childbearing Year: An Introduction
I have had many requests to provide good resources for prenatal nutrition over the years and I hope that you find the following posts helpful. I will introduce some concepts about pregnancy nutrition that are easy to use, but challenge you to examine your diet and work toward understanding your body’s needs before and during pregnancy. I’ll also touch upon the ways that your optimal nutrition might be different than another’s optimal nutrition.
I do suggest that your best source of guidance regarding an optimal diet for your unique needs is to work with a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Registered Dietitian or other expert specializing in prenatal nutrition in partnership with your midwife or doctor.
Eating well for you and your baby
In general, eating fresh, properly prepared foods from the four major food groups, enjoying a diverse and varied diet, avoiding processed foods and minimizing sugar and caffeine gets you on the right track. Eating organically, whenever possible, reduces exposure to pesticides to you and your baby, and in many cases it increases your exposure to foods that are higher in nutritional value. Some organic foods have been found to be higher in nutrients than their non-organic counterparts. Grass-fed or pastured meats, whether or not they are certified organic, also have higher nutritive value and balanced omega 3 and 6 ratios. Likewise, locally grown produce is also more nutritious, as it makes its way to your table in a matter of days, rather than weeks.
Tips to get you started on eating well to be well
- Shop at your local farmers market and try new seasonally available foods.
- Join a co-op or CSA, both of which can be economical ways to have new things show up in your refrigerator.
- Try a new cookbook or cooking magazine, or follow a few favorite blogs to inspire, committing to a goal of using new ingredients, getting more vegetables in, or whatever the gap may be in your nutrition profile.
- Cook with friends or even try new restaurants for inspiration to help you challenge yourself to try new recipes.
Nutritional choices that you may want to reconsider
There may be some nutritional concepts that you have adopted in your life that aren’t the most beneficial for pregnancy. Very low fat diets or skipping meals is not going to work so well for optimal health in pregnancy, for instance. We know that it’s very common for women in pregnancy to have some nutritional deficiencies, even those who have a balanced and healthful diet. Sometimes deficiencies have to do with absorption of nutrients and while you may be taking in the good stuff, your body may not be fully utilizing it. You will also learn that food safety is a heightened concern when pregnant. I’ll share some tips in future posts on making modifications during pregnancy to reduce your risk of food-borne illness or exposure to pathogens or toxins that can be particularly harmful.
Get a baseline
To begin planning, the best first step is to track what you are eating currently to get an idea which nutrients might be balanced already and which may need some attention. The following apps or online programs have tracking tools that allow you to define which nutrients you want to keep an eye on, like protein, iron and others. All of these tools include ways to track your activity, water intake, remembering to take your supplements and more.
- Expecting Nutrition (iOS)
- Wholesome: Healthy Eating (iOS, Google Play)
The following have a wider user base and the functions and food database may be more extensive:
Coming up: What you should know about nutrients, supplementation and more!
What’s to come? In future posts we will talk about sources of nutrients and have a brief discussion about food sources versus supplementation. In most cases—folic acid being the exception—getting your nutritional needs from food sources is more advantageous for you and your baby’s wellbeing.!
Read more blog posts about nutrients in the childbearing year!