“I just found out I am pregnant and I have so many questions about what to do and what not to do. I am absolutely lost!”
This is a question that we at DayOne Baby hear again and again from expecting mothers. Our mission is to help expecting and new parents get the information they need in a clear and informative manner. We partner with the most knowledgable and most qualified educators, medical professionals, tech companies and more to ensure that the DayOne Baby community has a trusted network to lean on.
One of our trusted experts, Alison Boden,is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in a functional nutrition approach to women’s reproductive health. We first met Alison and her adorable son in our Mommy & Me six-week series class. With an unparalleled knowledge and passion, we asked Alison to answer some of the frequently asked questions we receive in our classes, workshops, and email submissions. Have a nutrition question you want answered by Alison? Please submit your question to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will have her answer it in another post.
What are some best practices for pregnant women?
Pregnancy is hard work! It is physically, emotionally, and biologically demanding. Taking time for self care is so important during these 40 weeks. As far as nutrition best practices, we have the basics that most are familiar with – taking a prenatal vitamin, avoiding certain foods like raw meats, unpasteurized dairy and high mercury seafood, alcohol, excessive caffeine. Since we typically hear mostly of the “don’ts” of pregnancy, I like to focus on the “dos” with my clients specifically as it relates to nourishing mom and baby which is so important. So switching the conversation to making sure to include foods like eggs and low mercury fish for brain development, leafy greens and beans for neurological growth (and keeping mama regular!), lean meats for avoiding anemia etc.
What are some common misconceptions about nutrition during pregnancy?
Probably the biggest myth is the “eating for two” idea that we need double the amount of calories and nutrients to grow a healthy baby. The truth is that metabolism changes during pregnancy and digestion slows down in order to provide more nutrients to baby, so the amount of additional calories is really not much. In the first trimester we actually don’t need any extra calories, and in the third trimester it’s just about 300 extra per day which can easily be reached with a healthy evening snack. Full fat yogurt with fruits and nuts was my go-to during pregnancy. But I also don’t think women need to be meticulously counting calories and obsessing over weight gain. As long as weight gain is on track at your prenatal appointments generally just listening to hunger cues, including lots of nutrient dense foods and avoiding long stretches of time between meals will provide enough calories.
Are pregnancy cravings a bad thing?
Not necessarily. Sometimes cravings are signals telling us that we need more of a particular nutrient. For example craving a burger may mean we need more iron from the beef, craving sweets may indicate we’re not getting enough carbohydrates from healthy starches. Personally I craved pickle juice in my first trimester and would drink it from the jar! It’s likely that I was craving the extra electrolytes for all the new blood I was making (there is sodium, potassium, magnesium in pickle juice) and the salty taste was helpful for my morning sickness.There are some instances where we need to be careful – if sweets cravings are coming around daily and you’re indulging frequently, it may have turned into a habit more than anything else and substituting for something like fruit or very dark chocolate is a good idea to keep blood sugar from getting too high. If you find yourself craving non-food items like dirt, clay, chalk this could indicate a severe form of anemia and should be discussed with your doctor.
What are three examples of a good breakfast?
The components of a good breakfast are a high fiber carbohydrate, a fat and a protein. You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it really is true. What you eat first thing in the morning really sets the stage for your hunger and blood sugar control throughout the day. If you have a nice balance of protein, carb and fat then blood sugar will stay steady and you will feel full until lunch or snack. If you eat something like say, cereal, that is mostly refined carbohydrate and simple sugars, your blood sugar will rise sharply and then crash setting you up for craving another high carb meal and the cycle continues. So some examples of meals that would fit that formula are eggs with whole wheat avocado toast, rolled oats with almond butter or flax seed and fresh fruit, or whole milk plain yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and chopped nuts.
Alison is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in a functional nutrition approach to women’s reproductive health. A Bay Area native, she holds a Master of Public Health in Nutrition from UNC Chapel Hill and has worked with with many women and men to achieve wellness and correct imbalances via optimizing nutrition. She has a passion for helping women through fertility, pregnancy and postpartum struggles using a “food first” nourishing approach wellness and healing.
When she’s not talking food, she’s spending time with her husband and one year old little boy in San Francisco or getting some sun in Sonoma County. Although she’s probably still talking food. You can view her website Nourishing Radiance and follow her on Instagram @nourishing_radiance