There is more information on proper nutrition out there than you have time to read in your whole life. Most of it is garbage, created by people who did a diet and suddenly were ‘experts’. Or it was created by people who have no business giving nutritional information – health coaches or certificate ‘nutritionists’. Basically, these people bought their piece of paper and now try to make people healthy.
So, let me tell you a bit about me and why you should listen to us. My name is Christina Major. I’m a friend of Dima and I was asked to write about nutrition and pregnancy. I have a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition and certifications in metabolic typing and herbal medicine. My specialties include feeding the body to restore health, especially for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. I have over 13 years of nutritional experience and own 2 health businesses – one is private nutritional consulting and the other is the largest Holistic Wellness Center in Central PA.
If you took the time to read that, you’ll probably say: ‘Wow, I should listen to what she has to say.’
And I’m going to say something to you that you’ve probably never been told and will make a huge difference in your life:
You are unique and your diet needs to fit you
Every person has a unique metabolism and food requirement. Ever notice how some people can eat lots of food and never gain a pound? Or that some bodies are just made for hard, aerobic exercising?
It’s true. Some bodies require more food and some bodies need good, hard exercise. And the opposite is true. Some people need very little food and need gentle, calm exercising.
Here are 3 truths you need to make your diet whether you want health during pregnancy or the rest of your life and we’re going to cover each of them in more detail below:
1. Every body needs lots of fruits and vegetables – but not everyone can be a vegetarian.
2. Every body need exercise – but not everyone needs to run and jump around.
3. Every body needs lots of clear, fresh water.
So, let’s tackle these in reverse order so we know why we are eating well.
Pregnant Women Need Lots of Water
As a fetus grows, it takes up lots of space. Most of that space early on is fluid and that fluid is water based. So, if you get dehydrated, so is your baby. If your baby gets dehydrated, you run the risk of losing it or creating severe physical or mental health problems.
What counts as water? Well, water. And teas. All herbal teas, green teas, and black teas are healthy and necessary for a pregnant woman. They provide nutrients and hydration with great taste.
What doesn’t count as water? Everything else. All coffee, soda, alcohol, and juices are not considered water. Here’s why:
Coffee is a diuretic. For every cup of coffee you drink, your body needs an additional cup of water to be able to retain homeostasis (stable equilibrium). Coffee is also a digestive stimulant, which means you will want to eat more.
Soda is highly acidic, which can make pregnancy indigestion much worse. It contains caramel coloring in dark sodas and chemical flavorings. While considered safe for adults, all authorities consider these to be harmful to a child’s health. And that goes even more for your baby.
Any consumption of alcohol can cause brain damage to your baby. This is true for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Juices are controversial. Most health ‘authorities’ will say juices are just fine. And I would agree if all that was in the juice was just juice. Unfortunately, unless you are making juice at home, they are filled with sugars, chemicals, artificial junk, and colors. These are all things that should be kept away from a developing fetus and young baby. We have numerous articles here and on other websites, we trust that talk about the health benefits of juicing.
Pregnant Women Need Lots of Exercises
Yes, you can exercise right up until you are ready to give birth. You won’t be doing sit-ups or kickboxing, but you can get out and do numerous healthy exercises.
Swimming is one of the best for pregnant women. The water provides resistance and helps to buoy up heavy bellies. It helps relieve back aches and allows you to take up proper posture. This can help you breathe better and reduce the stress on your bladder and digestive system.
As we said before, not everyone needs aerobic exercise. Here’s the big test. How do you feel after a good workout? Tired? Energized? Good? Bad?
A good workout * should feel like work when you are doing it. Your breathing should be elevated, but not excessive. Afterward, you should feel like you could do it all over again. You should feel happy and energized. Your body should feel tired, but strong.
A bad workout will leave you breathless. It feels like you are dragging yourself out it. After, all you want to do is sleep or collapse. Or you feel like nothing happened at all. Your body will start to dread going to the workout.
For some people, a good workout is an aerobics class. These people tend towards being able to gain and lose weight very fast. They are the ones that eat more and enjoy physical work. For others, yoga and slower workouts * are better. These people have a hard time losing weight but tend not to eat much food at all.
Look at yourself and see what you enjoy for a workout. Then, do it. Because you can analyze all you want, but you still need to do something.
Of course, the bigger you get, the less you will be able to do. You will need to adjust the intensity as your baby grows. This doesn’t mean stop. It just means less bouncing around, smaller steps, slower pace, and not reaching as far.
There are some people who are advised to take it very easy. If you are part of that category, then listen to your doctor. Find out exactly how much you are able to do. Most people are able to do some walking and slow swimming. Just ask and find out.
Pregnant Women Need Lots of Nutrition
So, you may be asking why I covered water and exercise first. This is an article on nutrition, right?
Nutrition is more than just food. Water and exercise will dictate what kind of foods we need and how they are used. It would be like buying a car without thinking about how you drive or what kinds of roads you drive on. A fancy sports cars built for speed is worthless on steep, narrow mountain roads. Just like rugged off-road vehicles do poorly on highways. And huge hauling trucks aren’t good for city driving.
People who exercise more and move around more need more foods and different profiles of fats-carbs-and protein. People with desk jobs need a different profile.
How nutrition affects you during pregnancy is even another layer of complexity. What you eat during pregnancy is just as important to you as it is to your baby. So, we’re going to give you a primer of what to eat and what no to eat during your pregnancy, before your pregnancy, and during breastfeeding.
Wait - Why is Good Nutrition Before Pregnancy so Important?
There are several reasons. First, your body doesn’t just eat food and clear out what it doesn’t need. There are things within foods that can be stored around the body, like toxins, chemicals, and poisons. If your body can’t process it right away, it stores it in the liver or fat cells. When it has the resources, the body brings the toxin out for elimination.
We speed up that process during detoxes. That’s why it’s good to do them every so often with a well qualified nutritionist. Never attempt a detox on your own.
Your body is also evolving and changing as you go through life. Until 25, we really aren’t even done growing. So, your body needs good nutrition to grow and repair any damage.
Poor food choices are also more common in younger years. The body is better able to handle deficiencies without notice in our 20s and 30s. But, these deficiencies can be big trouble for a developing fetus.
So, when we eat good foods, we eliminate the toxins going in, so the body can eliminate the toxins already there. We repair any damage and make sure what is growing grows well. We eliminate poor food choices and the accompanying deficiencies. Basically, we make sure that the body has all that it needs to be happy, healthy, and work at the top rate.
There are several classes of foods. Some of them are necessary, some of them just fillers.
What Fruits & Vegetables to Eat During Pregnancy
So long as you are having a mostly normal and healthy pregnancy, you can eat any fruit or vegetable you want. That opens your doors to hundreds and thousands of different foods.
The biggest key to eating well is to keep things varied. You will find that your tastes are changing for no apparent reason. We know the reason is the changing hormones, but your tongue doesn’t.
You will want to focus on some foods. Keep the rainbow in mind. If you have something of every color, you’ll get all your nutrients.
Yellow foods provide lots of fibers and vitamin A. Orange foods are rich in lycopene and potassium. Red foods are pregnancy superfoods and provide the anthocyanins that help fight off mutation, cancers, and disease.
Green foods are loaded with magnesium and we need lots of magnesium to keep the stretch marks down. Blue and purple foods have lots of resveratrol that combats oxidative stress and helps our immune system.
People, in general, should eat between 5 and 7 servings of fruits and vegetables during the day. This will provide the nutrition you need and may help reduce morning sickness.
Did you notice we didn’t tell you which ones to eat? There is an important reason for that. When a food becomes the latest ‘superfood’, people flock to it and they push out other good foods. They hurt themselves by focusing on that particular food.
Keep mixing up your veggies. We recommend trying one new fruit or vegetable variety every week. This way, you can really expand your range of flavors and still keep you very high in nutrition.
What Meats to Eat During Pregnancy
All meats are good, but you want to get from good local sources. These are the farmers that allow their animals to roam around outside and eat the foods they are supposed to. They don’t use antibiotics or growth hormones on their animals. They treat them with respect.
Meats are rich in iron, something pregnant women should be aware of. We don’t want you to overdo it, just get enough. When you choose the better quality meats, you get lots of iron in a small amount of meat.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Fish?
Most seafood contains high levels of mercury and arsenic from human pollution. For the average adult, we can clear these toxins from our systems if we eat seafood 1-2 times per week.
But, a fetus can’t. Those toxins will prevent healthy growth and cause damage. So, keep it to one time per week or less.
Smoked salmon should be eaten less. Unless you know exactly how the salmon was smoked and the wood used provided no additional chemicals, smoked salmon should be eaten one per month or less. The problem comes from the smoke. Most manufacturers use either poor quality wood that gives off chemicals or they use a chemical smoke solution. Neither of these is healthy for a baby or pregnant woman.
Sushi should also be avoided. While we still have to watch toxins, it’s the potential for parasites that concern us. Pregnant women should avoid sushi until their pregnancy has passed.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Eggs?
Oh, yes. Eggs are one of the nature’s most perfect foods for pregnant women. A powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, everyone should eat eggs.
Here’s the catch. The eggs in the grocery stores are not healthy. You need eggs from a local source that raised their chickens naturally. That means the chickens eat bugs, run around, and dig in the dirt. The grocery store chicken eggs are pale and contain very little nutrition.
And once you taste the difference, you’ll never go back to eating eggs from the grocery store again. Rich flavor, bright yellow-orange yolks, and tender texture are the mark of a good, healthy egg.
Raw, Medium, Or Well Done?
Should a pregnant woman have a medium rare steak? Why not? As long as the steak is truly a whole piece of meat that came from a local, naturally raised animal.
The problem comes from bacteria and parasites. In grocery store meats, you run a high risk of contaminated meats. It comes from big factories going too fast and being too lax with cleanliness.
Small, local butchers using local animals are much cleaner and have very little risk of parasites. Plus, the naturally raised animals have better nutrition. A grass fed cow has 3 times the healthy fats as a factory/grocery store cow. A single steak has nearly 5 times the vitamins and minerals.
And again, the taste can’t be beaten. Once you have a good, local steak, you’ll never go back to the tasteless, rubbery grocery store steaks.
Deli Meats – the Good & the Bad
Can a pregnant woman eat deli meat? Yes. Should they eat deli meat? No.
Deli meats contain many nitrites and nitrates, which can cause brain damage in developing fetuses. The quality of the meat is also very low. They take the worst cuts and mash them together to form a meat-like product. Take a look at the labels; never will you see just the meat. It’s a by-product or meal. The label will also not say the whole cut. It will say lunch meat or deli meat. It will say processed or pulverized.
We don’t recommend deli meats because you really don’t know what is in them. In order to eat cold, they need lots of chemicals to prevent bacteria growth. You would never leave slices of whole roast beef for a week without questioning safety. But, people do it with deli meats all the time. It’s the chemicals.
What Dairy to Eat During Pregnancy
Dairy is a complicated subject. First, the milk and dairy in the grocery stores are very low quality. Between the high heat pasteurization, damaging homogenization, and removing the fat, you are basically left with a cow-flavored sugar water. Plus, that milk can contain 2 colonies of bacteria per 100ml – that’s 38 colonies per gallon!
You’d actually get healthier milk licking the udders of a cow.
Stick to smaller, local suppliers. They will provide safer, healthier milk that has a much better nutritional profile. The bacterial standard for local suppliers is actually 0 colonies, so it’s much safer than grocery store milk.
The same goes for yogurt, cheese, and any other dairy. The better milk produces better products.
Yogurt is very healthy for people. It provides probiotics and tastes great. Using the better milk makes a richer, creamier yogurt that does not need extra sugars or lots of extra flavors.
Of course, there is a risk that drinking milk during pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause a milk allergy. The studies that were done on this used the poor quality grocery store milk. As far as we know, no studies have been done using better quality milk.
But we can look at history for answers. People have been drinking the milk of many animals for millennia. It’s only been since we took cows out of the fields and force fed them that problems started.
So, we do recommend using dairy when it comes from good quality sources.
Can a Pregnant Woman Eat Fresh Cheese?
Yes, we actually would like to recommend cheese. We want you to be responsible, however. Choose cheese made from whole milk and from cows that are not injected with growth hormones or antibiotics. Grass fed is much better as is organic. This way, you avoid known toxins to your baby.
And that eliminated nearly all cheese from the deli and grocery store. But, you can find the best cheeses in small shops and stores. Every state has at least 10 providers of local cheese made from local, grass-fed cows.
These cheese are very high in calcium and protein. They are much richer in flavor and texture. They will satisfy your cravings fast and fill you up.
You just want to be careful with fresh and cheeses. Yes, pregnant women can eat fresh mozzarella or blue cheese. You don’t want to do it often. The risk of bacteria is higher and the sugar content is higher. Keep your consumption lower and you will be alright.
What Herbs & Spices to Eat During Pregnancy?
Do you like things spicy? Sweet? Savory? Herbs and spices are your friends during pregnancy.
Herbs and spices are packed with nutrition, more so than fruits and vegetables. We recommend eating any and all of the spices you desire. If you aren’t much of a user, add more!
Now, we want to caution you. Culinary herbs and spices are safe to eat. They are common and don’t give you much of a problem. Herbal remedies and treatments should not be taken without your doctor and a trained herbalist.
Also, never focus on one herb or spice. Keep mixing them up. That way you get a variety of tastes and nutrients. Oh, and while salt is a spice, don’t overdo that one.
Condiments are also considered here. Pregnant women can have things like mayonnaise. Just avoid the ones that use chemicals and don’t let it spoil.
Honey is commonly used, just go easy. Some people may develop allergies if they are exposed to honey and the pollen. We recommend talking to you talk to your doctor to make sure you will be OK with it.
Are Spicy Foods OK During Pregnancy?
Most definitely! The high amounts of capsaicin can help reduce pain and discomfort you may experience.
We just want you to watch. While some women crave the spice, during pregnancy, your hormones are a bit off and that can make your digestive system off as well. Indigestion may pop up on you when you least expect it.
Night sweats are often a concern of pregnant women and you may have problems with sweating if you eat too many spicy foods.
Food Craving Guide
Your pregnancy food cravings can start the day your body recognizes you are pregnant. However, most people don’t start feeling cravings until the start of the second trimester.
Like any food craving, it is a sign your body is needing a specific nutrient. In the past, your body has found the nutrient it needs in a particular food, so now it craves that food.
Unfortunately, the food is not always the healthiest. Your desire for a food also plays a part in your cravings.
We don’t recommend you indulge in cravings for foods that are not healthy. There are many good foods that will satisfy the craving without compromising your health or your baby’s.
One food you may crave is chocolate. Well, we’re here to tell you dark chocolate is very healthy for your heart and for development.
When you crave pickles, most of you don’t actually crave the pickle, but the fluids they are in. You can eliminate that craving with the apple cider vinegar. See the heartburn section below for how to make that up every day.
Ice cream is another common craving. You can avoid it by eating yogurt, hard cheeses, and dark leafy greens.
We recommend you avoid any food product that comes in a box. Most of them contain toxins and chemicals that are harmful to you and your baby. Why risk a lifetime of mental problems for a quick craving?
Help! What Can a Pregnant Woman Eat for Nausea?
Most anti-nausea medications are not good for pregnant women. Fortunately, one of the most powerful spices is perfectly safe.
Ginger has been proven to be as effective for nausea as leading prescriptions. This works for motion sickness, nausea, and discomfort.
For general prevention and morning sickness, go for ginger tea *. It’s warming, a bit spicy, and very tasty. It will help calm your stomach and hydrate you at the same time. Keep a cup on your nightstand to sip first thing. That way, it works before you get out of bed and have the nausea hit.
Here’s the best recipe:
Take 3 quarter ($0.25US piece) size slices of ginger and steep in boiling hot water until the water cools enough to drink. You can add a teaspoon of peppermint leaves to help cut the sharp taste of the ginger.
Help! What Can a Pregnant Woman Eat for Constipation?
Constipation can be hard on pregnancy. Fortunately, the best food for magnesium also works for constipation. Any dark leafy green will help move your bowels and stimulate proper digestive motion. Sautéed spinach, braised collards, and kale chips are all very good.
Watermelon is also a very good food for constipation. It helps move the bowels and provides a bit of hydration.
Help! What Can a Pregnant Woman Eat for Heartburn?
Heartburn can come from various sources. We first recommend avoiding the foods that caused it in the first place. Sometimes, triggers during pregnancy can be odd and confusing.
Try eating an apple with your meals. Apples help reduce stomach irritation and promote healing gut bacteria. The fibers also stimulate proper bowel movements.
Apple cider vinegar * is also a great preventative.
Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with the mother (the healthy probiotics) into a large glass of water and drink before your first meal of the day.
It provides probiotics and soothes stomach acids naturally.
Mix fennel seeds * into higher fat meals. These seeds help break down fats and promote good bile formation for your meals. It will help your stomach move food through without causing the reflux.
Question: Do Certain Foods Affect a Pregnancy Test?
There are no foods that will cause a false positive or false negative on a pregnancy test. The test itself is a positive or negative response to a certain hormone that only occurs with pregnancy. Any food that could affect the test would need to be consumed in qualities that would cause other, more severe problems.
Poor hydration and some diseases may interfere. You can read more about that in this article.
A good healthy diet is important for proper growth and development of your baby. Your biggest focus should be local, fresh vegetables and fruit. Avoid processed foods. Add in lots of water and exercise. The better you feel, the healthier your baby will be.
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