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Nutrition

  • Crab Cake Recipe for Pregnancy

    There’s a new cookbook to feed your pregnancy symptoms away.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Every new mother-to-be gets a laundry list of things that she can’t eat when she’s pregnant. What about all the yummy things that she can (and should!) eat? Proper nutrition during pregnancy and after delivery is so critical — your body’s working so hard! Eating healthy foods not only makes sense, but also can lessen some major pregnancy discomforts, like nausea, water retention and cramping.

    Taking a “food-as-medicine” approach, Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, nutrition experts for SELF Magazine and registered dieticians, have released a cookbook designed to help you take the guesswork out of what you’ll need to fuel up pre- and post-partum. The best part about Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook is that it’s organized by what you really care about: relieving those less than lovely pregnancy symptoms. I totally needed “Chapter One: I’m Gonna Hurl…But I’m Still Hungry” when I was pregnant — in fact, I probably could’ve written a book with the same title. Other chapters include “My Chest Is On Fire” (heartburn) and “I’m Officially a Walking Snack Machine” (for nursing mamas).

    I’m not much of a chef, so I really appreciated the fact that all of the 120-plus recipes in this book require just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients, are fairly quick to make, and don’t call for any fancy equipment or advanced cooking skills. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

    Barley Crab Cakes (serves 4)

    6 teaspoons olive oil, divided
    ½ cup shredded carrots
    ½ cup shredded zucchini
    ½ cup shredded onion
    ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
    ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

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  • What You Need to Know About Mercury and Pregnancy

    Mercury exposure is a major concern during pregnancy because of the damage it can do to a developing fetus. Coming in contact with higher than recommended levels of mercury while pregnant can cause lasting damage to a baby’s brain and nervous system. With stakes as high as these, it’s important to understand how we come into contact with mercury, and what we can do to be mindful of mercury exposure while expecting.

    Mercury is a metal neurotoxin that’s a real concern no matter what your condition. It’s especially critical to be wary of it when you’re expecting. You can be exposed to mercury in a variety of ways: by touching it, breathing it in, or eating it via foods in your diet. The most common way that a pregnant woman is exposed to mercury is through the seafood she eats. And while there are guidelines around fish consumption while pregnant, almost no one is advocating for full seafood abstinence. So how can you safely consume fish, and steer clear of other mercury exposure?

    Watching your seafood intake is critical. Mercury collects in streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans and also collects in the systems of the fish that inhabit these bodies of water. It will be passed on to you, and your growing baby, if you eat those exposed fish. Of course, many fish also contain brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and have other benefits for your health. The FDA states that eating fish is the best way to get healthy fatty acids, while also loading up on lean protein, iodine, and vitamin D. In that case, what’s the safest option? According to the most recent recommendations by the FDA, women can eat 8-12 ounces of seafood a week. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends that pregnant and nursing women consume 1-2 four-ounce servings of designated “safe” fish each week. It’s important to note that serving size isn’t the only thing to watch: the type of seafood you eat is just as relevant as the amount you eat per week.

    The seafood sweet spot is high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury. As a pregnant woman, you are officially on Seafood Watch. Fortunately, there’s a lot of help in determining the best seafood to eat. EWG has created a fantastic digital tool called the Seafood Calculator. It takes in a few pieces of information like age and weight, and serves you a highly detailed, custom seafood list. It gives you the kind of fish, the recommended quantity per week of that fish, the projected mercury amount, and the omega-3 amount and shows you the Best Bets food for your diet.

    Another helpful tool is the Seafood Watch mobile app, which gives you the most up-to-date advice on eating varieties of fish. Overall, the best choices for your high omega-3/low mercury ratio will be salmon (specifically wild, not farm-raised), sardines, rainbow trout, and pollock.

    Memorize the seafood-to-avoid list while pregnant. Fish like swordfish, marlin, shark, and tuna should not make it onto your plate during pregnancy. These fish are larger and higher on the food chain, so they tend to collect more mercury than other fish. Tuna steak is on the list, and the safety of canned tuna is debated back and forth. The FDA places canned tuna on the “good choice” list for pregnant women, meaning that one serving per week is deemed safe. However, EWG urges pregnant women to avoid canned tuna completely. And if you’re eating fish that’s been caught from local waters, you should look up the local advisories. If you can’t find that information, then limit your intake of local-water fish to 6 ounces or less per week.   

    Make sure you’re up on your omega-3’s. A big concern about pregnant women avoiding seafood is that their omega-3 fatty acid intake will be too low. According to the Mayo Clinic, “the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can promote baby's brain development.” Omega-3 fatty acids have immense benefits, and there are other ways to hit your daily amount without loading up on seafood. Foods like flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and edamame are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Some foods like eggs, milk, and yogurt may be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, too, so read the labels on these products when you’re shopping. Fish oil supplements are another choice during pregnancy, but be sure to talk with your doctor before you start taking anything supplemental. It’s also important to note that fish liver supplements, like cod liver oil, are not pregnancy safe, so pay close attention to what you’re bringing home.

    While other mercury exposure is rare, it’s still important to note. Elemental mercury can be found in the inside of fever thermometers; some antique clocks, barometers, or mirrors; some button cell batteries; and some jewelry (primarily not made in the U.S.). Be extra-aware of what you’re touching and exposing yourself to while you’re expecting. Dental fillings made from amalgam also contain mercury and other metals, so if you need a tooth filled while pregnant, be sure to discuss it with your dentist and doctor.

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  • What to Eat When You Have Gestational Diabetes

    5 nutritional tips to keep your blood sugars under control.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Did you just drink that not-so-tasty orange beverage only to find out that you have gestational diabetes? First, know that you are not alone: gestational diabetes, which occurs later during pregnancy when the body is not able to process insulin as efficiently due to hormonal changes, affect between 2 and 10 percent of expecting moms. And though many women with the condition end up delivering healthy babies, you want to manage symptoms and keep your blood sugar levels within range to avoid complications during, and possibly after, birth. For example, pregnant women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to have a C-section, preterm birth, and type 2 diabetes later in life. So how do you keep your blood sugar levels under control? The best treatment (or even prevention) for gestational diabetes is healthy food choices and eating habits.

    So here are five nutrition tips to manage gestational diabetes and ensure that you and baby are still getting all the nutrients you need.

    1. Incorporate protein at every meal. Eating foods that digest slowly and take longer to reach the bloodstream, like protein, cause insulin to release gradually. This helps the body maintain healthy glucose levels. Both animal and plant-based protein have positive impact on blood sugar levels. For example, consider a hard-boiled egg at breakfast, legume based salad or soup for lunch, and lean ground meat, like meatballs, turkey burgers or chicken patties for dinner.

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  • Natural Cures for Morning Sickness

    For many women, the first sign of their pregnancy isn’t a positive test or an expanding midsection. It’s morning sickness, and it affects more than 50% of pregnant women. Nausea, sometimes accompanied with vomiting, can put a real damper on the happy news that you’re pregnant, and on most other parts of your life. Fortunately, there are ways to manage that sick sensation, so you can get to the fun parts of pregnancy, like eating ice cream and picking out new maternity clothes. Here are ten all-natural remedies we’ve found to help ease morning sickness.

    Ginger settles the stomach and promotes digestion, making it a favorite all-natural remedy for morning sickness. Ginger ale is a well-known cure for queasiness, but you’ll want to find sodas that are made from real ginger, not the standard supermarket sodas. You can also try chewing on ginger candies, crystallized ginger, or grating fresh ginger into hot water for ginger tea.

    Keep your digestive system healthy with probiotics. When your digestive system is functioning well, your morning sickness and nausea can be less severe. Eat fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and Greek yogurt for probiotic health and to keep your system balanced. It’s also recommended that you not lie down immediately after eating, since that can slow down digestion and exacerbate an upset stomach.

    Sip peppermint tea for a simple nausea remedy. Peppermint is soothing to your stomach, and is usually pregnancy-safe. Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor before you begin drinking new herbal teas. If cold liquids are more comforting, you can brew a batch of tea and leave it in the refrigerator overnight for a cool, calming start to the morning. You can also try sucking on peppermint candies for a similar effect.

    Lemons pack a double-punch against morning sickness. Drinking cool water with lemon is recommended to combat nausea and vomiting. But even if you can’t keep liquids down, the aroma of lemon could help make you feel better. Whether you add lemon to water, tea, or simply squeeze out the fresh juice into a cup to sniff, the lemony scent is said to help alleviate feelings of nausea.

    Make your own Morning Sickness Elixir. Made with ingredients you might have in your kitchen already, this anti-nausea drink has been known to soothe upset stomachs. Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar into 1 quart water and stir in the juice of two lemons. Add 1 tablespoon honey. Combine the ingredients well, and sip the drink throughout the day to combat nausea.

    Tick up your B-vitamin consumption. Research has shown that an increase in B-vitamins, especially B6, can help ease nausea, though it’s still unclear why it’s such a relief. Before you start taking new supplements while pregnant, talk with your doctor. You can also try sprinkling brewer’s yeast, which is high in B-vitamins, on your food, or add more bananas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, and lean fish to your diet.

    Motion sickness bands can put your nausea out to sea. Are you prone to motion sickness? Sorry, but you may be more likely to experience intense morning sickness while pregnant. But motion sickness bands, particularly the ones that wrap around your wrist, can help calm your stomach. Many pregnant women swear by them!

    Acupuncture may bring morning sickness relief. Before you schedule any appointments, you’ll want to check with your doctor. But many women say that acupuncture, with a specialist who is fluent in the pregnant body, diminishes the symptoms of morning sickness, especially in the first trimester.

    Try eating small, frequent meals throughout the day. Eating small amounts of food regularly can curb your nausea by ensuring that your stomach is never empty. This can be tricky if you’re feeling too sick to eat, but if you can snack on high-protein foods and complex carbohydrates, you might be feeling better soon. Avoid foods that are overly rich, spicy, greasy, and high in fat; these are difficult to digest and can exacerbate your symptoms.

    Stay well-hydrated. Like with small meals, it might be hard to keep liquids down while you’re experiencing morning sickness. But drinking fluids will keep your system balanced. Try cold drinks and carbonated beverages to soothe your stomach. And if you have been vomiting, have a sports drink that contains potassium, glucose, and salt, to replace what you’ve lost and to ease nausea.

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  • All about Folic Acid

    If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably come across an advice article that tells you to “take your folic acid!” There are so many supplements that are lauded as must-haves while pregnant, but while you sift through what’s the best for you and what’s not, be sure that you do look twice at folic acid. Folic acid is understood to be vital to your health and the health of your growing baby. Fortunately, it’s simple to supplement your body with folic acid on a day-to-day basis. But what, exactly, is folic acid, and why is it so important to not skimp on it while you’re expecting?

    Folic acid is a form of Vitamin B called folate. This water-soluble vitamin supports your system in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. The folate assists in normal growth and development for you and your baby. While you might only be hearing about folic acid now that you’re expecting, everybody benefits from taking in supplemental folate. Folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) version of folate, which can be naturally found in many foods.

    Folic acid is beneficial at any time, but it is particularly instrumental in the development of a healthy baby. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) and The U.S. Public Health Service actually recommend that pregnant women take folic acid in the form of a daily supplement. Folic acid is instrumental in preventing health problems centering around neural tubes, like spina bifida and anencephaly in your developing baby. It can also reduce your risk of miscarriage. Various studies suggest that folic acid could also help prevent low birth weight and premature birth. Aside from these tremendous benefits, folic acid is important for your body, too, since it keeps your blood healthy and supports your own continuous cell growth as your body goes through the changes of pregnancy.

    When looking for folic acid supplements, it’s important to know what you’re getting. While taking folic acid is important during pregnancy, you want to be sure that your consumption stays within the recommended daily range. Most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, so it’s wise to start with those. You should double check with your own doctor, but most recommend taking between 400 and 600 micrograms of folic acid daily while pregnant. If you plan on taking a separate folic acid supplement, be sure you’re staying within the recommended daily amount. It is possible to consume too much folic acid, so discuss every vitamin you’re taking with your doctor. When it comes to prenatal vitamins that are equipped with folic acid, we especially like the vegan, gluten free Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins and Garden of Life raw prenatal vitamins.   

    Get folic acid every day by diversifying your diet with foods rich in the vitamin. Folic acid is also found in a variety of foods. You can add these to your diet to be sure you’re consuming a healthy amount for you and your baby. Some foods are enriched with folic acid, like certain breads, breakfast cereals, flours, pastas, and rice. When folic acid is found naturally in food, it’s called folate. If you’d rather up your intake this way, stock up on lentils, pinto beans and black beans, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, peanuts, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.

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  • 4 Squash Recipes You and Your Baby Will Love

    Easy squash dishes that will feed your whole family.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Winter squash is a favorite in our household this time of year, with acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash abound. Kids and adults love it for its bright color and sweet and earthy flavor! Many families like it with a lot of sweetness added, such as brown sugar and cinnamon, but it’s actually tasty in savory dishes too. Plus, they’re packed with nutrients that are crucial to the pregnant mama and the toddler alike.

    It’s high in vitamin C and Vitamin A that support healthy immunity, which expecting moms need extra of. For toddlers, try using vanilla extract, grated citrus zest, spices like ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves or herbs such as tarragon, rosemary and thyme. Below are a few of my favorite family- friendly squash recipes — also suitable for (and loved by) children. Enjoy!

    Winter Squash Fries with Hummus, (10 months old & up).

    Winter squash makes tasty bite-size fries, and your baby will love dipping them in the flavorful chickpea dip. It’s a high-fiber treat with lots of nutrients, perfect for growing bodies and grasping fingers!

    Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):

    1 cup acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼-inch matchsticks
    1 tbsp. olive oil
    1/3 tsp. garlic powder
    ¼ tsp. sweet paprika

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    Tags: Nutrition

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