Category Archives: Prenatal nutrition

Food poisoning during pregnancy

If you eat something contaminated with a bacteria, virus or toxin and experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhea you may have food poisoning. During pregnancy, food poisoning can be confused with morning sickness or another illness. If the symptoms present suddenly, you feel different from your usual morning sickness or you think that you ate something that had gone bad, you probably have a foodborne illness. If you are unsure or continue to have symptoms don’t hesitate to contact your doctor to rule out a virus or infection.

Food poisoning is usually not harmful to your baby. You’ll definitely feel very sick and not be able to treat it with just any medication, but usually your baby will be okay. On the other hand, if left untreated some bacteria found in uncooked or contaminated food such as Listeria can be harmful for the baby. Listeria is a bacterium sometimes present in uncooked foods such as deli meats or unpasteurized cheeses. This bacterium can pose serious health risks for your developing baby, but it is very rare to contract it because uncooked or unpasteurized foods are not recommended during pregnancy.

Treating food poisoning during pregnancy

Becoming dehydrated is the most common effect and the biggest risk of food poisoning. If you become sick, be sure to sip lots of water throughout the day. Start with a single sip and when you can tolerate liquids increase your consumption. You could even dilute a sports drink with water to replenish electrolytes, but skip on excess sugar. Be sure to rest too, proper hydration and adequate rest can do wonders for healing the body.

Be sure to contact your doctor too. Food borne illnesses can be dangerous and your doctor will give you the adequate instructions to recover quickly. Also, if you feel you are becoming dehydrated or the vomiting and diarrhea does not stop, your doctor might recommend coming in for an IV to replenish fluids.

Preventing food poisoning

• Avoid uncooked foods at all costs
• Keep raw food away from clean veggies, fruit and ready to eat food
• Store food at the proper temperature and refrigerate or freeze promptly after use
• Wash hands before eating and after using the bathroom
• Keep plates and utensils clean
• Heat deli meat before eating (but try to avoid it if you can)
• Wash or disinfect all produce
• Look at expiration dates before consuming a product
• Don’t eat food from street vendors

Vegan or vegatarian considerations during pregnancy

Are you vegan or vegetarian and expecting a baby? If you are, there is no need to abandon your diet. You can still maintain a healthy pregnancy without consuming animal products, all you need to do is make sure you are consuming all the nutrients your baby needs.

Many of the nutrients your baby needs to develop properly can easily be found in meats or animal based products but not to worry, there are still other plant-based sources and supplements that will provide you with these. For starters, you need to make sure that you receive an adequate amount of protein, iron, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12 when you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Below we’ll break down each nutrient and provide plant based sources for each.

Protein: The building blocks of the body are in charge of developing the tissue and cells of your baby. Protein is crucial and its consumption increases 25 grams per day per baby. So, if you are having twins that is 50 extra grams of protein than the recommended amount when not pregnant. The following plant sources are rich in protein, make sure you consume an adequate amount.
• Beans
• Quinoa
• Oatmeal
• Nuts and nut butters
• Soy milk
• Tofu

Folate (vitamin B12): It is a very important micronutrient, especially during the first trimester, because it prevents neural tube defects. Folic acid supplements are prescribed by doctors upon the first visit and they are recommended for all women planning to get pregnant. This vitamin is not found in plants such as fruits or vegetables but can be found in:
• Soy milk
• Tofu
• Fortified cereals

Calcium: Necessary for building your baby’s bones, nerves, muscles and heart. This mineral is so crucial that if you do not consume enough to fulfill your baby’s needs, your body will excrete it from your bones. This can put women at risk of osteoporosis in the future, especially after multiple pregnancies, so be sure to eat a healthy dose of the following and take a calcium supplement if your doctor recommends you do so.
• Dairy (if you are a vegetarian)
• Broccoli
• Calcium-fortified orange juice
• Soy milk
• Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, etc.)
• Tofu

Iron: This mineral is responsible for producing more red blood cells and transferring oxygen all around your body. It is very important during pregnancy as blood volume increases drastically to support your developing baby and provide the oxygen he needs. Vegetarian, vegan or not, an iron supplement during pregnancy makes sure you get the adequate amount to prevent anemia, low birth weight or even preterm labor. Iron of plant-based sources is not absorbed as efficiently by the body as iron coming from meats especially red meat, so be sure to soak plant-based foods rich in iron before cooking and combine them with foods high in vitamin C as this vitamin helps increase absorption. Iron rich foods include:
• Beans
• Soy products
• Barley
• Bulgur
• Dried fruit
• Quinoa
• Spinach
• Kale
• Seaweed

Vitamin D: A very important vitamin whose role is to build and maintain bones and teeth healthy. Luckily this vitamin can be synthetized by the body when exposed to direct sunlight for 15 minutes each day. Nevertheless, skin color, lifestyle and climate not always allow one to get the adequate dose. Milk and fish are the best dietary sources for vitamin D. If you do not consume these products, it’s important to talk with your doctor and get a prescription for a supplement. Also try to consume fortified wheat products such as bread and cereal along with fortified soy milk or fortified orange juice.

In conclusion, being pregnant is compatible with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle as long as you get the necessary supplements, you eat a balanced diet, take your prenatal vitamins every day and attend your regular checkups.

Healthy weight gain during the second trimester

Many women worry about gaining weight during pregnancy, but gaining a healthy amount not only is normal, but necessary and expected. On average, women can gain from 11 to 15 kilos during pregnancy but it’s normal to gain a bit less or a bit more if you were overweight or underweight before getting pregnant. Nevertheless, gaining a reasonable amount of weight is crucial as it provides the adequate nutrition for mom and baby, while building adequate fat reserves for breast-feeding.

Although knowing that weight gain is necessary, seeing the number slowly creep up on the scale can make some women self-conscious, especially during the second trimester when weight gain is more evident. But the number on the scale should not get you down. Instead of concentrating on the amount of weight gained, focus on eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, complex carbohydrates (whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) and protein (lean meat or plant based protein). This will allow your body to gain weight at a slow and steady pace.

Eating healthy is crucial for your health and your baby’s. Pregnancy is not a time to begin or maintain a restrictive diet. Dieting to lose or prevent gaining weight can put you and your baby at risk, so don’t cut out food groups and focus on eating five balanced meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two snacks). Think of the nutrient content instead of the calories per meal. If you avoid processed food which tends to be high in fat, sugar and sodium you really can’t go wrong. It’s also important to listen to your body. If you are hungry eat something rich in nutrients and try to replace cravings with healthy natural options such as a rice cake with peanut butter and strawberries. Just remember that it’s okay to indulge on a craving every once in a while!

There is no one size fits all when it comes to gaining weight during pregnancy. Gaining a healthy amount of weight depends on your weight before getting pregnant and your baby’s needs. Your doctor can help you determine the adequate weight tailored for you but here is a general guideline:

– Underweight: It’s important to gain a reasonable amount of weight especially during the second and third trimester when the baby grows the most. Gaining appropriate weight will prevent your baby from being born earlier or smaller than average, and it diminishes complications at birth.
– Overweight: It’s important not to gain too much weight as this can provoke gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, but it is not a time to try to lose weight either.
– Healthy weight: Steady weight gain is important during the second and third trimester. This usually implies an extra 300 calories a day during the second trimester, and up to 500 during the third.
– Multiples: If you are carrying two or more babies remember that it’s very likely that your weight gain will be slightly above average.

Where does the weight go?

Here is the approximate weight distribution according to the Mayo Clinic:
Baby: 3 to 3.5 kg (7 to 8 lbs)
Breast augmentation: 1 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 lbs)
Augmented uterus: 1 kg (2 lbs)
Increased blood volume: 1.4 to 1.8 kg (3 to 4 lbs)
Increased volume of fluid: 1.4 to 1.8 kg (3 to 4 lbs)
Placenta: 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs)
Amniotic fluid: 1 kg (2 lbs)
Fat storage: 2.7 to 3.6 kg (6 to 8 lbs)

“Preparing a healthy menu: What you should eat “

There is no better time to improve your lifestyle and eating habits than during pregnancy. This beautiful stage in your life helps you create a beautiful little person. Inside you there is a tiny being completely dependent on you to provide the adequate nutrients. If you feed your body the right way you can help this growing miracle develop adequately.

Your womb is your baby’s first environment and to make it a safe first home, you must provide all the nutrients needed to help him thrive. The world we live in can make it hard to make smart choices. With our busy lifestyles and attractive and heavily marketed pre-packaged food items it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning and preparation you can eat a balanced, delicious and nutritious diet that will nourish you and your baby all through pregnancy and afterwards.

The pleasure of healthy eating

It’s true, you are what you eat and because for 40 weeks your baby eats what you eat he is also what YOU eat! Having a healthy diet has the power to provide adequate brain development, birth weight, internal system and organ development, long term health and even healthy eating habits for your future baby. Eating a balanced diet is not only beneficial for your baby, it can also diminish some pesky side effects of pregnancy such as fatigue, bloating, constipation, heartburn and nausea. It can also reduce risk complications and even make labor and delivery easier. Don’t worry if your diet was not perfect before pregnancy. Now is the time to change and discover just how delicious healthy food can be.

Tips to make good choices

Create each meal based on the healthy eating plate. Divide your plate into halves. One half should be composed of fruits and vegetables and the other half divided into two: protein and carbohydrates. Here’s a breakdown of each food group:

Fruits and vegetables: Packed with fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. A great tip is to prepare your meal based on the vegetables. Add veggies to your protein, soups, rice, sandwiches, pizza. Pretty much anything works with vegetables. Fruits can make great desserts or snacks too. There are many fruits and veggies to choose from. Make sure to eat a variety of colors as each color includes different vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates: They provide your body with lots of energy. Good choices include whole grain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, barley, slow cooked oats.

Protein: Crucial for your developing baby’s growth. The best sources of protein come from animals but lots of plant-based sources have protein too. You can eat chicken without the skin, cooked dried beans, lean beef or pork, fish, nut butters, eggs or tofu to provide your body with a healthy dose of protein.

Fats and sweets: These are okay to use sparingly. Cook using a small amount of oil and only indulge on desserts every so often.

Finally remember that eating healthy does not have to be boring! Keep a look out for our delicious and healthy prenatal recipes that will not only take your taste buds for a ride but leave you feeling satisfied.

Tea time: Is it safe to drink tea during pregnancy?

Tea has become very popular these days. With more and more teas filling up the supermarket shelves and menus on coffee and tea shops it can become tricky to know if they are safe to consume while pregnant. For starters, you must know that there are two types of teas: caffeinated and herbal. Caffeinated teas include green tea, black tea, English breakfast tea and all other teas containing caffeine. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are free of caffeine. Most herbal teas are safe to consume during pregnancy and some caffeinated teas are too. If you are drinking tea with caffeine make sure not to exceed the maximum of 200 – 300 mg of caffeine permitted per day. If you are a big tea and coffee drinker, try to cut down and choose herbal options instead.

Benefits of drinking herbal teas

We have some great news! Some herbal teas can be beneficial during gestation because they help with relaxation and contain vitamins and minerals. But since there are hundreds of herbal teas on the market, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what you like so you can choose safe and regulated tea brands. Also, keep in mind that, although it’s natural and beneficial, it’s important consume tea within the recommended amounts.

Aside from water – the best beverage- herbal tea is way better than a caffeinated drink or worse, soda. Caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect and cause dehydration in the body, while herbal teas do not usually have this effect. In fact, most herbal teas can be full of antioxidants, have a calming effect and might even reduce nausea and prepare the uterus for labor.

So… which teas are safe?

• Ginger tea: great for diminishing nausea and aiding in digestion.
• Nettle tea: Contains iron, magnesium and calcium
• Raspberry leaf tea: Might prepare the uterus for labor and prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
• Peppermint tea: Great for decreasing nausea and settling an upset stomach.
• Rooibos tea: Full of antioxidants and can ease reflux, a common symptom during pregnancy.
• Dandelion leaf tea: This tea can have a gentle diuretic effect, helpful for late pregnancy fluid retention.

Teas to avoid
• Caffeinated teas such as: green, black, Oolong, Earl Grey
• Herbal teas such as: St John’ Wort, ginseng, yarrow, licorice root, chamomile (only if you have a history of hayfever).

Pregnancy nutrition myths debunked

Thanks to the media or even our well-meaning family and friends, we are surrounded by myths regarding health, pregnancy, delivery and childbearing. This make it very hard to discern fact from fiction, especially if you are a first-time mom. Knowing that these myths can place stress on expecting mothers, we gathered some of the most common misconceptions about pregnancy and provide the accurate facts.

Myth: During pregnancy, you should eat twice as much.

Fact: Although nutrient needs do increase, the total calorie increment is only of 300 calories per day during the second trimester, and 500 calories per day during the third. While caloric intake may vary from woman to woman, you should never eat double the amount you used to eat.

Myth: Gaining less weight during pregnancy will make delivery easier.

Fact: Excess weight gain during pregnancy can put a strain during delivery. However, not gaining enough weight is very dangerous for the developing baby. During pregnancy, your baby needs lots of energy and nutrients to develop properly. Being pregnant is never a time to diet or lose weight.

Myth: If a pregnant woman eats a healthy diet during pregnancy she will be exempt from the discomforts of pregnancy.

Fact: Although eating a healthy diet does reduce discomfort and provide the best nutrition for you and your baby, nausea, constipation and heartburn do not discriminate and can happen to even the healthiest woman. Nevertheless, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and exercising moderately will definitely help diminish those pesky symptoms.

Myth: cut out all salt, it will make you swell up.

Fact: During pregnancy sodium intakes remain the same. Try to keep it below the recommended 1500 mg a day but remember that some swelling is normal. Sodium is an electrolyte and therefore an essential nutrient. Just be sure to salt your food after you taste it to avoid exceeding the daily recommended amount and try to avoid processed food which tend to be very high in sodium.

Myth: You must eat a low-fat diet to avoid gaining fat during pregnancy.

Fact: Healthy fats like the ones you find in avocado, olive oil and nuts are excellent sources of unsaturated fats. They provide the body with nutrients and serve as carriers for fat soluble vitamins. Eating fat does not make one fat. Eating excess calories from whatever source (proteins, carbohydrates or fats) results in weight gain and fat storage. But if you eat a balanced diet, no food groups should ever be avoided. Besides, healthy weight gain and fat storage during pregnancy is important for labor and lactation.

Eat up: Essential nutrients to consume during pregnancy

When it comes to nutrition during pregnancy there is no one magic or special diet. Actually, the same principles that constitute a healthy diet should be maintained and applied to pregnancy. If you do not practice a balanced diet now, it’s never too late to start! To ensure your baby gets all the nutrients she needs, be sure to eat lots of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Below we’ll provide a breakdown the essential nutrients for pregnancy and the foods that contain them.

Folate (folic acid): Folate is part of the vitamin B family. It plays a very big role in preventing birth defects including neural tube defects. Aside from your daily folic acid supplement be sure to include these great sources of folic acid to your diet.

• Fortified cereals
• Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and asparagus
• Dried beans and lentils
• Citrus fruits
• Eggs
• Nuts and peanut butter

Calcium: The developing bones and teeth of your baby need lots of calcium. Getting enough of it means your body will provide adequate amounts for you and your baby. If you do not consume enough, it will be taken from your bones to be supplied for your baby. Examples of food sources include:

• Dairy products (best absorbed by the body)
• Salmon
• Broccoli
• Kale
• Calcium-fortified orange juice
• Eggs
• Cabbage
• Tofu

Protein: It is essential for the growth of fetal tissue and brain. It also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy, and even plays role in increasing blood supply. When pregnant, an extra 25g of protein should be added to your diet per day. Here are some natural sources:

• Lean beef
• Beans
• Seafood
• Nuts and peanut butter
• Cottage cheese
• Chicken
• Tofu

Vitamin D: Helps promote bone and teeth growth. You can consume vitamin D from these sources:

• Fatty fish
• Sunlight (the best way to acquire this vitamin. Exposure to sunlight helps the body synthesize this important vitamin)
• Eggs
• Fortified milk and juice

Iron: Another very important micronutrient responsible for supplying the appropriate amount of oxygen to you and your baby. Iron works together with sodium, water and potassium to increase blood flow too. There are two types of iron: heme iron, which is animal-based and more readily absorbed, and non-heme iron present in plant sources. Food sources for iron (heme and non-heme) include:

• Lean beef and poultry (best absorbed by the body)
• Enriched cereals
• Eggs
• Dried fruits
• Dark green leafy vegetables

Along with eating a balanced diet full of the necessary nutrients it’s important to drink plenty of water and take the prenatal vitamins recommended by your doctor. This will ensure you are receiving the sufficient amount of nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy.

The benefits of probiotics and prebiotics during pregnancy

Probiotics are live micro-organisms that have similar components to the good bacteria that resides in the intestines. When consumed, they help maintain an appropriate balance between the billions of good and bad bacteria found in the colon. Probiotics are also known as friendly bacteria because they keep the digestive system healthy and prevent the bad or harmful bacteria from spreading. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are indigestible food components that feed the probiotics and good bacteria and help them flourish.

Probiotics and prebiotics can be consumed naturally or via supplements and they are generally considered safe during pregnancy as systemic absorption by the body is extremely rare.

Are there benefits of consuming probiotics and prebiotics during pregnancy?

Some studies show that probiotics can help boost mom’s immune system, improve the maternal intestinal composition of microbiota, provide relief for gastrointestinal discomfort, prevent or treat colitis and maybe even bacterial vaginosis. Although there is still research needed as to what strain of probiotics is the most beneficial for each person, consuming a healthy balance of probiotics definitely helps protect the intestinal flora.

Other studies suggest that consumption of probiotics could reduce the possibility of babies developing eczema and gastrointestinal problems. They might also allow the good bacteria residing in the vagina to thrive and, therefore, help your baby develop a healthy immune system when born. There is still not enough evidence to make these claims, but ongoing research seems promising.

Natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics

Before you go out and buy some probiotic supplements, consider adding natural sources of probiotics and prebiotics to your diet. Here are some examples:

• Live cultured yogurt
• Kefir
• High quality dark chocolate (YUM!)
• Miso
• Kombucha tea
• Pickles

• Bananas
• Asparagus
• Oats
• Soy beans
• Garlic
• Onions
• Artichokes

In conclusion, even if consuming probiotics and prebiotics do not have a direct benefit for the baby they’ll help keep your digestive system healthy. There is no harm in taking these supplements, just make sure to talk to your doctor beforehand.

What you eat during pregnancy and it’s impact on your baby

Have you ever heard the phrase “when you are pregnant you eat for two”? During pregnancy, you do eat for two, but this does not mean you should eat twice as much. During the first trimester of pregnancy your calorie intake should remain the same. It all depends on your weight before pregnancy, but your calorie intake during the second trimester should increase by 300 calories per day, and up to 500 calories during the third trimester. Keep in mind that the increase in calories should come from healthy food sources. Therefore, instead of duplicating the amount you eat, you should increase the caloric intake appropriately by elevating the nutritional content of your diet.

Recent animal studies have revealed that a mom’s diet during pregnancy could rewire the part of the baby’s brain that regulates appetite. There is proof that being overweight or obese while pregnant, gaining excessive weight during pregnancy – increase of 18 kgs (40 lbs) or more – or having uncontrolled gestational diabetes could onset future obesity in the offspring.

Obesity is no longer viewed as a failure of self-restraint and over indulgence. Gene-environment interactions are also responsible for predisposing a child for future weight gain. That’s why maintaining a healthy weight and diet during pregnancy and lactation is key. Research has also pointed out that the father’s health and weight has an impact too in the developing fetus. What you and your partner eat before pregnancy affects your gut microbiome and flora. The intestinal flora has been linked to one’s health and obesity. If your flora is at its optimal health you’ll be sure to pass this along to your baby. Now, if you and your partner didn’t practice a balanced diet prior to becoming pregnant, don’t sweat it, there is no better time to change habits and become as healthy as you can be.

What you eat during your nine months of pregnancy is very important! So be sure to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from heavily processed foods as they tend to be high in sugar, fat and sodium.

Reading nutrition labels: A guide to a healthy pregnancy

With a baby on the way there is no better time to improve your health habits and make the necessary changes to improve your lifestyle. Eating plays a very big role in our lives and, in today’s world, making healthy choices can be hard. Being bombarded by marketing strategies, one can easily be fooled into thinking certain products are healthy when they are actually loaded with fat, sugar and sodium. Although it’s best to avoid packaged food, at certain times it’s the only option. Keep reading and we’ll teach you to become an expert at reading nutrition labels so you can make informed food choices.

To begin, turn the product over and find the label that reads “Nutrition Facts”. Here are the things to look for:

• Serving size and the servings per container: In this section, you’ll learn the serving size and how many servings are contained within the package. Be sure to always read the amount of servings per package as the nutrition label only reflects the content of one portion. For example, a package of eight cookies might contain two servings and once you multiply the calories, fat or sugar content it might be best to look for a more filling and healthier option.

• Calories per serving: In this section, you will find the number of calories per serving. Be mindful of the calories per package, but remember that calories are not the ultimate way to determine if a food is healthy. Nuts or avocados for example, are high in calories but very healthy. It’s all about portion control and choosing the most nutrient dense options. As a general rule, 40 calories is low, 100 calories is moderate (and a great option for a snack) and 400 calories is high.

• Fats: The next section to review is the total fat content and its breakdown. Unsaturated fats found in olive oil or avocado are the healthiest. Saturated fats found in meat or butter are okay to consume in moderation, but steer completely of trans fats as they have been associated with heart disease.

• Sugars: Be sure to take a look at the sugar content of the package. According to the American Heart Association, women should not exceed 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day. To convert grams to teaspoons simply divide the total amount by 4. This recommendation excludes intrinsic sugars such as those found in fruits and dairy, making it hard to exceed the limit if you don’t buy processed foods. But if you do, keep an eye out for the added sugar.

• Fiber: When reading a food label try to choose products high in fiber as they are great at stabilizing blood sugar and delaying the return of hunger after eating. Plus, they are important for gastrointestinal health.

• Sodium: Processed foods tend to be high in sodium as this helps keep food fresh for a longer period of time. According to mayor health organizations, sodium is an important mineral to include in our diets but we should try to consume less than 1500 mg of sodium per day, and not exceed more than 2300 mg.

• Vitamins: This section mentions the vitamins and minerals in the product, but beware this can be misleading. Many companies add vitamins and minerals to products to increase sales, but this does not mean that the food item is healthy.

• Ingredients: Usually found below, above or beside the nutrition facts. Here you can read all the ingredients used to prepare the food item. Ingredients are always listed from most to least, meaning that the first ingredient is the most prevalent in the product. The less ingredients the packaged food has the better.

These eight key factors are very important when it comes to picking packaged foods, but remember to try to eat less processed foods and more things that don’t come with nutrition labels such as fruit, vegetables and lean protein.