Why is Eating When Pregnant so Complicated?

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If you have been hearing an endless stream of advice as to what you should be eating when pregnant, you are not alone.  In fact, most pregnant women report that even absolute strangers will approach them with advice, horror stories, questions, and perhaps worst of all, the intent to touch their stomach without even asking!  If all the advice you have been receiving has you more confused then ever–let’s simplify once again.

It isn’t Complicated
Your first step towards recovery is to learn the following skill–
1. Assume a pleasant smile
2. Nod encouragingly
3. Make “hmm-ing” sounds when required
4. Say “thanks for letting me know, I will have to think about that seriously”
5. Ignore the advice and keep doing the things you know to be right
6. Repeat as needed

Unless you are getting advice about eating from a nutritionist, your doctor or midwife or your mother in law the above routine should be enough.  There isn’t much we can do about an over helpful mother in law, but as to what you should be eating, here it is.

Whole Grains
Nothing beats whole grains for energy and fiber; you need both.  Whole grains digest slowly, preventing ups and downs in your blood sugar.  It is those rapid cycles that cause you to feel hungry or irritable.  By maintaining a healthy blood sugar level you have plenty of energy without any repercussions.

The fiber is part of what keeps those sugars from entering your blood stream too quickly, but it also helps keep your digestive tract humming along.  Constipation is a common problem for women later in their pregnancies, and the fiber helps prevent such problems.

Protein

All those little cells need protein to form and grow.  If you don’t have enough protein in your diet, your body will harvest it from your muscle to give the baby what it needs.  This doesn’t mean you need to start packing away pounds of protein every day, but you should include at least some lean protein in every meal.

Get your protein from wild caught, low mercury fish, grass fed beef and lamb, organic poultry, pork and whole eggs.  Keeping protein rich raw nuts on hand for snacking emergencies is another good way to up your protein intake painlessly.

Vitamins and Minerals
The majority of these will be found in your fruits and vegetables.  Dark leafy veggies are chock full of calcium, iron and folate–all critical to an expectant mother.  Eat them with a fruit rich in vitamin C and increase your absorption rate.

Make sure you get enough folate, especially early in the pregnancy as an insufficiency in folic acid is connected to a higher incidence of neural tube defects.  Towards the end of the pregnancy make sure to get enough vitamin K as it is critical in clotting, both for you and the baby.  Once again, dark leafy greens will come to the “rescue” as the go to ingredient. 

In fact, getting plenty of those greens will offer not only things you require during your pregnancy: they are ideal for all stages of life!  They also pack a number of antioxidants, which are essential for fighting free radicals, believe to be the source of many cancers. 

Of course there is a lot more to know about eating when pregnant.  If you haven’t started a healthy food plan yet, there is no time like the present.  Even just eliminating the junk foods in your diet, such as sugar, artificial sweeteners and dairy can go a long way in providing you the best nutrition for a woman who is eating while pregnant.  Small changes will help you ensure proper nutrition for your baby and yourself.

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