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January 31, 2011

2010 Dietary Guidelines: What They Mean for Pregnant and Nursing Women

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (DG) for Americans. The latest recommendations about what to eat have lots of advice for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for women in their childbearing years who may become pregnant. Here are the highlights:

• Healthy weight: If you may become pregnant, and especially if you’re trying for a child, you should achieve a healthy weight before conception. Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight, and gaining the right number of pounds during pregnancy (which is based on your pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index), reduces your chance of pregnancy complications, and improves your health and your child’s, possibly for a lifetime.

• Iron: If you’re pregnant, take an iron supplement. Even if you’re not pregnant, choose foods rich in heme iron, the form of iron most easily absorbed by the body. Animal foods, such as lean beef, pork, and seafood, are rich in heme iron. Another DG recommendation: include foods with non-heme iron, such as cereal, bread, rice, and pasta, and consume foods with vitamin C, such as orange juice, mango, tomatoes, and strawberries, to increase the body’s absorption of non-heme iron.

• Folic acid: Women in their childbearing years who are capable of becoming pregnant should get 400 micrograms (ug) of folic acid daily. Folic acid is a man-made B vitamin that reduces the risk of certain birth defects that occur during the first month after conception. You should also include in your diet foods with folate, folic acid’s naturally-occurring counterpart. Beans, orange juice, and dark leafy greens provide folate.

• Fish: The latest DG recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume 8 to 12 ounces of fish every week. Fish supplies omega-3 fats, which are touted as heart healthy. But when it comes to pregnancy and nursing, the most important omega-3 fat is docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Your baby’s body starts hoarding DHA around the 24th week of pregnancy because it’s vital for proper brain development and peak vision. Nursing moms need adequate DHA in their diet to pass on to their child through breast milk. (Many infant formulas contain DHA, too.)

The recommendation for fish comes with a caveat: choose a variety of lower-risk fish, such as salmon; limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week; and avoid tile fish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

If you don’t think you can get as much fish as the DG recommend, supplement your diet with fortified foods, including eggs, such as Eggland’s Best, and fortified milk and yogurt. One of my favorite lunches when I was pregnant and even now is two Eggland’s Best eggs fried in a bit of olive oil on a whole wheat English muffin. Yum!

January 28, 2011

Healthy Breakfast and Snack Ideas

Filed under: General Information, Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 6:43 pm

These two WebMD pieces that I wrote offer great suggestions for snacks and healthy breakfasts the entire family will enjoy!

What’s your favorite snack? What’s your favorite breakfast?

January 25, 2011

Crazy for Corn Bread!

Filed under: General Information, Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , — Elizabeth Ward @ 2:48 pm

Craving carbs? Try this easy-to-makedsc_0070 corn bread that uses whole grain corn meal and buttermilk. It’s featured on my USAToday.com blog, food.usatoday.com. It’s delicious and good for you, and your family, too!

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