Prenatal Nutrition and Beyond

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Prenatal Nutrition and Beyond

March 30, 2014

As expectant mothers you have a very large task of bringing new life into the world! It’s an amazing experience that will change your life forever but in order to stay vibrant through pregnancy and beyond, you must have all your nutritional ducks in a row.

Pregnancy Nutrition

When you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you have special nutritional needs. When you are pregnant, you have a higher need for vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid that helps with neurological development in your baby.

While nursing, you require more calories to sustain your own body processes but also those of your baby, but all calories are not created equal; making choices that are high in empty calories is always a mistake. Empty calories are the calories from added sugars and solid fats in foods like soft drinks, desserts, fried foods, cheese, whole milk, and fatty meats. And beware of choices that are low-fat, fat-free, unsweetened, or with no added-sugars; despite not having calories, sugar or fat, they are generally full of junk filler to replace what has been removed; whole foods, such as nuts, seed, proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats have fewer or no “empty calories.”

Vitamin and mineral supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.  Most doctors recommend that pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement every day to SUPPORT eating a healthy diet. Taking a supplement ensures that you and your baby are getting enough important nutrients like folic acid and iron. But don’t overdo it. Taking more than the recommended amount can be harmful for you and your baby; as some of these vitamins and minerals are fat soluble, meaning they are stored in fat and therefore do not come out with your pee. By overdoing it, you can create unhealthy levels in your body.

Protein

Protein is essential to all cellular development, it’s what our bodies use to regenerate and rebuild cells and since you are building a human being at the cellular level, taking in adequate sources of protein is essential.

The source of your protein is crucial. It’s important that if you eat meat, that you are eating high quality sources; grass fed, organic meat and wild fish are the best out there. They are raised without hormones and antibiotics, and because they are allowed to roam and swim freely, consuming a natural diet, their meat is higher in clean protein.

Plant-based sources of protein are great because they are generally devoid of saturated fats; hemp seeds, chia seeds, vegan protein powder (such as Vega), almonds and the like are great sources of plant-based protein. You can even make almond, hemp seed or chia seed milk to boost your protein intake.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are the body’s energy source. As we burn calories retrieved from complex carbohydrates we give our bodies the energy it needs to thrive. And as you enter into your third trimester and beyond, energy is ever so important.

Complex carbohydrates are derived from foods such as quinoa (which is also a complete protein), oats, barley, buckwheat, brown rice and the like; they are what I call slow burn foods, meaning our bodies digest them slowly so we have sustained energy, unlike simple carbohydrates found in cakes, cookies, pastries, white pasta and more, which burn fast and lead to an energy crash. Avoid them at all costs, as they lead to blood sugar spikes and when you are pregnant you want to avoid any kind of messing with your blood sugar, which can lead to gestational diabetes- and nobody wants that.

Healthy Fats

There was once a time when all fat was labeled bad, but now we are coming to understand that not all fat is made equal. High quality sources of fat, such as avocado, coconut oil and olive oil, help with the development of cells. The outer layer of every cell in our body is covered by a thin layer of fat to protect them; when we omit healthy fats from our diet, our cells become vulnerable to oxidization. When you are growing a human being from a cellular level, healthy fats are integral to process.

Healthy fats are also important for brain development, and as your baby is growing a brain inside of you, giving your unborn baby the tools to effectively develop is essential.

Beware of Trans fats and hydrogenated oils found in margarine and commercially baked goods; these fats have been altered for shelf stability and the process renders them useless and harmful. Also, when you are purchasing coconut oil look for cold-pressed organic varieties.

In regards to postpartum, women who consumed a whole food diet high in healthy saturated fats report less instances and severity of postpartum depression; the reasons have yet to verified, however, seeing the role that fats play in brain development, I cannot say I am surprised.

Water

Water is important for everyone, not just those gestating and when we are dehydrated our blood gets thick and viscous making it far more challenging to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. You blood is carrying life-giving nutrients to your baby and if you are under hydrated then your body isn’t able to effectively transport the nutrients your baby needs. Drink water, and lots of it- end of story.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a fantastic way to infuse lots of nutrients into your body without a whole lot of effort. Smoothies can boast all the aforementioned nutritional components; such as healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates and water.

Here is a list of things to add to your smoothies:

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Hemp seeds

Chia seeds

Protein powder

Almonds

Kale

 

Carbohydrates

Hemp seeds

Chia seeds

Cooked, unsweetened quinoa

Cooked unsweetened oats

Fruits

 

Water

Water

Coconut Water

 

Healthy Fats

Coconut Oil

Coconut Milk

Avocado

 


Hemp Seed and Mango Smoothie Recipe

1 cup spinach

½ cup frozen mango

1 tbsp unhulled hemp seeds

1 ¼ cup coconut water

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

To make smoothies even more convenient, make a whole heap of them now, and freeze them in ice cube tray; store your smoothie cubes in the freezer for after baby when time is tight.

Pesto

Pesto is highly underrated. Being able to make a sauce that is nutritionally balanced is perfection after baby. Kale pesto is lovely because you can jam it with the dynamo that is kale, nuts brimming with good fats, and olive oil which is also an incredible source of healthy fats.

Kale and Walnut Pesto Recipe

1 small bunch Tuscan/lacinato kale

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts (substitute for any other nut you like)

Handful fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Juice of one lemon

3 Tbsp. water

Sea salt and pepper

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all the ingredients except the olive to a food processor and power on; slowly add the olive while the machine is running, until the desired consistency is achieved.

Freeze your pesto in ice cube trays. After baby is born, all you’ll need for a quick and healthy dinner is to defrost your kale cubes and toss with hot quinoa or brown rice pasta!”

 

“Bianca Osbourne is an Edmonton-based chef and culinary nutritionist; her company The Vitality Kitchen shows people how to harness vitality, one bite at a time. Through hands on cooking classes and workshops, Bianca empowers people to get back in the kitchen, while her customized meal plans offer the convenience of takeout, with benefits of homemade!”

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