Archive for the ‘
Healthy Pregnancy ’ Category
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
When I was pregnant, I wasn’t allowed many vices. Of course I wasn’t drinking alcohol, and I don’t drink coffee anyway, and rarely have caffeine except through my made-up fifth food group, chocolate. Because I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, chocolate and any other sugary indulgences were out (as was white flour, which nixed most restaurant pastas, breads and pizzas). So, my special treat—one I don’t think I could have given up—was caffeine-free Diet Coke. That was and still is my drug of choice.
My doctor assured me aspartame found in Diet Coke was fine in moderation for pregnant women (limiting it in the same way you would coffee). But over the years there has been research—mostly in rats—that has linked diet sodas to everything from allergic reactions to cancer and even premature births. Not exactly soothing to hear!
So, I was pleased to read a study by the European Food Safety Authority (the equivalent of our FDA) has reiterated what we in the US have been told all along—that aspartame in Diet Coke is safe for consumption during pregnancy. [Note: one exception is moms-to-be who have a genetic disease called phenylketonuria, or PKU. These moms need to avoid aspartame completely because PKU prevents them from breaking down the phenylalanine.] Oh, and The National Cancer Institute says there’s no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or birth defects. Phew!
According to an article in the Daily Mail, “concerns about artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, have centered on the fact that they contain methanol.Methanol is a nerve toxin, which can be metabolized in the body to form formic acid, which is another nerve toxin, as well as formaldehyde, which is the chemical used to preserve dead bodies.” Um, Diet Coke isn’t sounding so tasty right about now.
However, the EFSA panel pointed out that methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables that we eat on a daily basis. So as long as you’re not chugging the stuff 24/7, the main concern with artificial sweeteners and pregnancy seems to come down to nutrition. If you’re drinking a lot of diet sodas (or regular sodas for that matter), you may not be drinking enough water, milk, or juice—all of which have benefits for your developing baby.
How to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Making a Healthy Breakfast
TELL US: Are you still using artificial sweeteners during your pregnancy, or are you cutting it out of your diet just to be safe?
NEXT: Get the dish on all your pregnancy cravings here!
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Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Put down those Doritos and read this! The foods you’re eating during pregnancy and while breast feeding are shaping the way that your unborn child will eat for years to come, according to a new study. That’s right—bad eating habits form in utero.
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research organization in Philadelphia, found that babies’ taste buds are directly linked to what their moms ate while pregnant with them. So if you’re eating a diverse and varied diet, your child will eventually be a less picky eater, who is open to trying new things. Your good habits are being passed down to them, and that will show in how they eat as toddlers and later on as adults.
But your bad habits are being passed down as well. A study conducted at the University of Adelaide in South Australia found that if you are eating sugary or fatty foods, your child will actually have cravings for those foods and form an emotional attachment to them. Moms who ate Froot Loops, Cheetos and Nutella during pregnancy had children that built up a tolerance for those foods, so that they needed more of them to get the same gratification from eating them. That is how researchers believe the US’ obesity epidemic all started (70 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese).
According to the New York Times, “researchers believe that the taste preferences that develop at crucial periods during infancy have lasting effects for life. In fact, changing food preferences beyond toddlerhood appears to be extremely difficult.” So when you tell people you’re “eating for two,” you really are—not the amount of calories for two people, but you are choosing what your baby will be eating for the rest of his or her life. Just think about that the next time you have a craving! Of course it’s fine to indulge every now and again (here are some ideas for doing that the smart way), but know that your eating habits do have long-term effects on your little one, so choose your meals wisely!
Test your Pregnancy Nutrition IQ here.
TELL US: What foods have you cut out while you’re pregnant? What are your healthy indulgences?
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Childhood Obesity, Diet, Fit Pregnancy, Food, Healthy Eating, Healthy Pregnancy, Junk Food, Obesity, pregnancy, Pregnancy Diet, pregnant | Categories:
Cravings, Healthy Pregnancy
Thursday, November 28th, 2013
On Thanksgiving, when it’s natural to overeat (and eat and eat!), it seems only fitting to talk about wanting to look slimmer. I get it—pregnancy and ill-fitting maternity clothes can cause your self-esteem to take a major nosedive. Your butt is bigger than it’s ever been (and not in a good Kim Kardashian sort of way), your thighs are jigglier than Grandma’s Jell-O Surprise, and stretch marks are starting to pop up in places you never even imagined possible. What to do? Many women are turning to pregnancy shapewear to smooth, enhance and reshape their bodies to give them sexy hourglass figures (with a bump, of course).
But a piece in the Daily Mail has me questioning just how safe control underwear can be. While OB-GYN Dr. Mike Bowen says the nylon and Lycra shapers would likely have no effect on your unborn little one since he or she is “safely cocooned in your womb,” other experts brought up good points I never would have thought of: like how you could be constricting the blood flow to your baby, according to National Childbirth Trust adviser Elizabeth Duff, which can of course be dangerous because babies depend on their mom’s blood flow to bring oxygen to them.
If you’ve ever worn Spanx (and I will admit I have, and that I hated every single second of it), you know what a pain they are to get on and off. Well, that annoyance—according to Gail Johnson, a midwife and education advisor at England’s Royal College of Midwives—could deter you from going to the bathroom when you need to, which in turn could cause painful Urinary Tract Infections (something pregnant women are already prone to).
And like the old adage says, “Use it or lose it,” the built-in support from the shapers, when worn daily, can actually weaken muscles in the stomach and lower back, says London-based physiotheropist Sammy Margo, causing injuries to you once the baby is born and you’re constantly having to pick up your bundle of joy.
My few experiences with body shapers were miserable enough for me to never go back to them—and that was when I wasn’t pregnant. I can’t even imagine trying to hold it all in when your body is naturally trying to spread out and make room for your growing baby. I know the cliché is, “no pain, no gain,” but I’d take my comfy Adidas sweatpants over a tight-fitting body shaper any day! It’s important to feel beautiful, especially when you’re pregnant, but like my latest pregnancy muse, Drew Barrymore, said, “You’re not supposed to look perfect while you’re making babies—making babies is the perfection.” Wiser words were never spoken! Embrace those newfound curves, ladies. Don’t hide them!
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Monday, November 25th, 2013
Food is such a hot topic when it comes to pregnancy—what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat, what’s a healthy amount of weight to gain while pregnant…the list is endless! The amount of information out there can be overwhelming! So I spoke to Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietician and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy, to give you a quick and easy rundown of what to eat and what to steer clear of. Here are her recommendations.
The five best foods for fertility and pregnancies:
• Eggland’s Best Eggs: “EB eggs contain four times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs and they provide a lean source of protein,” says Ward. “In addition, they contain no trans fats and nearly all the fat in EB eggs is unsaturated. Eggs are also a source of choline. In observational studies, choline has helped reduce the risk for birth defects in the first month of life. During pregnancy a child’s brain is developing at a very rapid pace. It needs the omega-3 fats found in seafood and in Eggland’s Best Eggs, which provide twice the amount of omega-3s in ordinary eggs. Healthy women can have 2 EB eggs a day.”
• Canned light tuna and salmon: “They are excellent sources of vitamin D and lean protein. They are also relatively low-risk fish in terms of mercury. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least two fish meals a week.”
• Legumes: “Chickpeas, black beans, and other beans are free of trans fat, are low-glycemic carbohdyrate sources and are full of filling fiber. Start with 1/4 cup to your daily diet, and you can eat up to a cup of beans daily.”
• Fortified whole grains: “Whole grains have fiber and are low-glycemic carbohydrate sources. Women should eat at least three servings of whole grains daily.”
• Full-fat vitamin-D fortified milk: “According to the research, full-fat dairy is associated with fertility. A total of three servings from the dairy group daily is the goal.” Also, according to some research, drinking milk while pregnant can cause your children to be taller!
Trying to Conceive: 5 Ways to Get Pregnant Faster
Five things to steer clear of if you want to get pregnant or are pregnant:
• Alcohol: “Alcohol is of course bad for pregnancies, but what all women don’t know is that drinking can also put a damper on fertility.”
• Caffeine: “It may also be surprising to know that there is a lot of conflicting research about caffeine. Some studies say it causes miscarriage and small babies and others say no. I err on the side of caution and go with the March of Dimes suggestion to limit caffeine during pregnancy to 200 milligrams a day or less. When you’re trying to conceive, excess coffee may be crowding out other more nutritious beverages but may not actually be limiting fertility.”
• Red meats: Lean red meat is one of the best sources of iron, “but fatty meats should be avoided.”
• Trans fats: “Things like French fries, donuts and pastries, and margarine may sabotage fertility.”
• Refined carbs: “Excessive amounts of refined carbs (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc) and added (not naturally occuring) sugar are also problematic.”
According to Ward, “Women should take their preconception diet and lifestyle very seriously.” Weighing too much delays time to conception (being underweight can, too) and starting your pregnancy overweight may mean a bigger baby who goes on to be overweight later in life. “The number one issue for women,” says Ward, “is achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight (based on BMI) on a balanced diet to encourage fertility and to help insure a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.”
Always try to start pregnancy in the best shape possible. “Manage any underlying health conditions, including body weight, high blood pressure, and anemia before conception occurs,” advises Ward. “There’s no way to figure how much of a change women will see in their fertility based on healthy eating but it is known that they will begin pregnancy in a much healthier state that will reduce complications for them and their child.”
TELL US: Did you make any dietary changes before getting pregnant or during your pregnancy?
NEXT: Your personal pregnancy calendar (It’s free!)
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Could your lotion, perfume, even deodorant cause you to have a preterm birth—the leading cause of infant death? A new study published by JAMA Pediatrics suggests that pregnant women exposed to phthalates (the same chemicals found in contaminated food and water that are also used in many toiletries) are at an increased risk of going into labor before 37 weeks, which can lead to breathing and developmental problems for the baby (oh, and PS previous research has shown an association between phthalates with thyroid conditions, endometriosis and breast cancer—yikes!).
I read a lot of studies regarding pregnant women, and pretty much every day there’s a new one published that says something you’re eating, exposed to, or doing—or not doing—could cause something disastrous to happen with your pregnancy. I believe it’s important to be informed, and to know what’s going on with your body and your child inside it. But—and that’s a big but—if you listen to every study you read, you would need to live in a hermetically-sealed bubble, never exposed to anything or anyone! That, or the sheer paranoia of wondering if all of the horrible things that could happen will happen during your pregnancy will put you in a psych ward (or at least scare the bejeezus out of you)!
I want you to know what the leading experts are saying, and that’s why I’m telling you about the above study by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, but my intention is not to upset you. As my mom has always told me, read everything and take from it what you will. Will I be going au naturale from here on out by cutting out all beauty products? No—a girl needs her pampering! But do I think it’s smart to look at labels on lotions and deodorants in the same way you’d check out food labels to see what the heck is in them? Why not?
TELL US: Will this study make you stop using lotions, perfumes and deodorants? Will you change the ones you’re wearing now for ones with less phthalates?
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Next: Find out how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
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