Making Sense of Micronutrients: Addressing Iron Needs During Pregnancy

June 6, 2024

Understanding the Why, What, and How of iron intake during pregnancy 

Iron is an essential mineral for everyone. Iron plays an important role in carrying oxygen in the blood, throughout the body. During pregnancy when the blood volume increases by half (50%), this creates a higher demand for iron to support your growing fetus and placenta. Additionally, the potential for any blood loss during childbirth adds a demand as well for sufficient iron in the body.

Iron-deficiency anemia is when there is not enough iron to produce healthy red blood cells. This leads to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Other risks associated with anemia during pregnancy include early delivery, low birth weight, infant developmental delays, and increased risk of postpartum depression.

What is the recommended intake of iron? 

A non-pregnant female requires 18 milligrams of iron per day, according to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). A woman during pregnancy requires 27 milligrams per day. These needs are usually covered mostly through diet in addition to a prenatal supplement. 

How to increase your intake of iron-rich foods: 

First, is to be aware of your iron-rich foods, to ensure they are present in as many of your meals as possible.

  • Lean meats and poultry such as beef, chicken, and turkey.
  • Seafood and fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. 
  • Beans & legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, and soybeans.
  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and swiss chard. 
  • Nuts & seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and cashews. Additionally dried fruit such as apricots and raisins. 
  • And lastly, many foods are fortified with iron such as cereals and pastas.

Next, when it comes to iron through food we are also concerned with absorption. Not all sources are as easily absorbed, and most sources require an aid in absorption. Alternatively, there are elements that can block absorption.

Iron sources that come from animal products are known as heme iron. These are more absorbent compared to plant sources known as non-heme iron. It’s advised to eat non-heme sources with a vitamin C-rich food such as citrus fruit, tomatoes, or bell peppers to aid in absorption.

Be mindful that calcium, polyphenols found in tea and coffee, as well as phytates in whole grains and legumes can block absorption. It’s advised to eat these separate from your iron sources. For example, avoid drinking your morning coffee with your breakfast meal that may include an iron source like leafy greens and turkey sausage.

Finally, let’s briefly discuss how supplements work with diet when it comes to iron. Most women during pregnancy will take a prenatal supplement that includes iron or will take a separate iron supplement. You will most likely start taking an iron supplement in your second trimester, if not already in your first. This is recommended regardless of your levels or dietary intake. However, it is important to also be mindful of your intake from food. You can work with a Dietitian to learn what your iron needs are from food, in relation to how much you are receiving from a supplement.

Iron supplements can cause GI discomfort, most notably constipation. Monitor these symptoms and speak with your Doctor or Dietitian to ensure the correct dosage and frequency.  

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role during prenatal and postpartum, for both Mom and Baby. Keep iron-rich foods in your daily diet to support in meeting your needs, and to prevent developing iron-deficiency anemia. Additionally, an iron supplement will ensure you are intaking a daily dose of iron, regardless.

To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for prenatal and postpartum nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

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Snacks for Meals: Creating a Meal Plan for Postpartum

May 21, 2024

Follow our guide for snacking during postpartum to get the biggest bang for your buck!

I describe snacks as bridges between meals. An opportunity to take pressure off of meals to meet all your nutrition needs for the day. In the first few weeks of postpartum it can feel like you are not eating full meals at all, but rather just having a string of snacks/mini meals throughout the day – and at best may get one full sit-down meal. Postpartum is a busy and stressful time, assembling a balanced meal when time is tight is not ideal, and you may even feel like your appetite isn’t there to eat as much in one sitting.

The first few weeks postpartum are not a time to try and force something such as meals. Instead lean in to the snacking until you are able to gain some “me time” back in your days. In the end the goal during postpartum is to nourish yourself, replenish your stores and to support energy levels. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, to nourish your infant.

Let’s discuss how you can make the most of snacking and ensure that it is meeting your nutritional needs.

The What?

Balance is still relevant! Just because it’s a snack, doesn’t mean you should forget about the balanced meal. It may just look a little smaller. As a reminder, balanced meals include plants (fruits and/or vegetables), whole grains or starchy vegetables, lean protein, healthy fat (omega-3 fats), and a calcium source. With an additional focus on choosing options rich in vitamins and minerals essential to postpartum.

  • Micronutrients to focus on: Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, Iodine, Zinc. Found in foods such as leafy greens, low-fat dairy, olive oil, salmon, olive oil, eggs, nuts & seeds, assortment of fruits & vegetables, and edamame. 

Snack ideas to meet needs (swap out ingredients for ones you prefer!):

  • Greek Yogurt with homemade granola, almond butter, raspberries and strawberries.  
  • Brown rice cake with avocado, turkey deli, sliced cucumbers and tomato. 
  • Oatmeal made with soy milk, with chia seeds, blueberries, banana, chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of agave. 
  • Baby carrots and cucumber sticks with hummus and chopped olives. 
  • Trail Mix with popcorn, nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, and seeds. 

And as always, stay hydrated! Especially if you are breastfeeding. Drink water after you eat, and in between meals to stay hydrated without diminishing your appetite at mealtime.

The How? 

It is easier said than done. Where to start? 

First and foremost, focus on being mindful of your intake. Although your hunger and fullness cues may feel off, they are still there! Avoid nibbling all day. At the least, focus on spacing out your intake so that there is some semblance of a meal pattern, even if you are eating in snack form. And take your time to focus on just eating at these times, no matter how short it may be.

Lastly, be prepared. At first you will need a minute to get your feet under you, and set up your home for your new lil addition, but once you feel settled think about what your plan, shop, prep, and cook system is going to look like. It may be different than before but that’s ok. Think about what you can prepare ahead, in terms of practicality, time, and your energy levels. If the snack is ready for you, it is more likely you will eat it.

As a new parent, your care is as important as the care of your new infant but it’s not easy to give it the attention it needs. Being aware of your dietary needs, and creating healthy quick meals and snacks is a simple way to give yourself some care during this time.

To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for postpartum nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

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Pre-Schoolers with Preferences: Strategies for Managing Selective Eating

April 25, 2024

Embarking on the culinary adventure of parenthood often comes with its own set of challenges, especially when faced with the discerning tastes of preschoolers. Here are your RD-approved strategies for managing your preschooler and their food preferences.

I avoid using the term “picky” or “fussy” eater. To label anyone, child or adult, as picky when it comes to their food choices is a comparison to others. What and how we eat should be completely personalized to ourselves. However parents often struggle to feed their preschooler with many particular preferences. They worry whether their child is meeting their nutritional needs for age, and proper growth and development.

Let’s explore some strategies you as a parent can try when dealing with your preschooler’s particular food preferences:

First, and most importantly, be patient. This can feel very frustrating when your child is refusing every food option you offer, and being seemingly ungrateful for the food prepared for them. But how you react (or don’t react!) can make or break the situation. Avoid forcing or pressuring your child to eat anything they are refusing. Ask questions, and learn what they are thinking and feeling about their meal. Aim to avoid negative associations with food options and mealtime. Remember, even if they reject a food one time, does not mean they will reject it every time!

Embrace your child’s preferences. As children age and learn more about themselves, they become more adamant about exerting their own self-expression and can use their food choices as an outlet. Commonly, this will mean avoiding foods that are unfamiliar or uninteresting to them. But it’s actually important to celebrate them asserting themselves in this way and encourage them to know what they want and what they like.

  • Additionally, as part of growth and development, children may experience fluctuations in their appetite. This can mean that some days they may not even want foods they do like. Practice patience with this, be mindful of how long and how often this is happening.

Aim for diversity in food choices. Exposing your child during infancy to a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy can help set them up for eclectic tastes throughout their life. Offer your child balanced meals that include options from each of these food groups. Learn your child’s preferences by introducing one new food at a time. Even if they refuse the first time, don’t hesitate to try again – their taste preferences will change and evolve.

  • A colorful plate is also a fun draw for kids. Choose to create fun, colorful plates with whole, fresh ingredients to pique the curiosity of your child and entice them to try new things.

Work together! Build curiosity for your child, in the food being served, by including them in the meal plan and prep process. From choosing what will be served, to creating the shopping list and going shopping, to fruit and vegetable prep, ingredient mixing, and dish assembly – children can start to be involved from a young age, and become more and more involved as they age. By including them in the process, your child will feel ownership and interest in the meals, helping combat some of their selectiveness. 

Be a role model. As a parent you know your kids are always watching you, they look up to you and they care. That puts you in a unique position to model behavior for them. What you eat, how you eat, how you talk about food, and how you talk about your body are going to make a big difference in their childhood and in their adulthood. Avoid negative comments around food, meals, and body. Be a positive example for them!

Dealing with selective eating in preschoolers requires patience, creativity, and a proactive approach to nutrition. By understanding normal eating patterns, offering a variety of foods, and involving your child in meal preparation, you can help expand their palate and promote healthy eating habits for life. With time and consistency, you can navigate the challenges of selective eating and raise a happy, healthy eater. Remember to be patient, persistent, and seek out the guidance of a Registered Dietitian for additional support.

To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for pediatric nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

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Your Nutrition Guide to Achieving Hormonal Harmony for Preconception

March 24, 2024

Explore our comprehensive guide and unlock the secrets to naturally balancing these essential biochemical messengers, setting the stage for a fulfilling path to parenthood.

Another health buzz term is “hormone balance”. This is something we see all over social media and hear a lot when it comes to fertility and women’s health. Hormone balance is when hormone levels and interaction are at peak performance, they are present in the right amounts in relation to each other. Hormones are chemicals that act as messengers in the body, they are produced by glands in our endocrine system, and play roles in many processes in our body including metabolism, growth and development, mood, sleep, and of course reproduction.

Hormonal balance plays a crucial role in fertility – affecting ovulation, egg quality, and overall reproductive health. When we talk about reproductive hormones, we are mainly referring to estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and testosterone. Imbalances in these hormones can disrupt ovulation, menstrual cycles, and the ability to conceive.

There is no direct therapeutic diet to balance out these hormones, in an effort to conceive. However there are dietary strategies that can help keep your body and hormones in balance, and improve chances of conception.

What are some evidence-based dietary strategies to naturally balance hormones and optimize fertility?

Eat balanced meals focused on whole, minimally processed, foods. Including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Whole foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that will play various roles in regulating reproductive hormones and provide antioxidants to protect the reproductive cells from damage.

  • Put a spotlight on healthy fats when thinking about building your balanced meals. Foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish provide the healthy fats our body needs to synthesize hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This can support ovarian function and menstrual cycle regulation.
  • And highlight protein intake as well. Protein plays a key role in overall hormone synthesis and reproductive function. Additionally, protein helps maintain muscle mass. Strengthened muscle mass can help regulate hormones, in turn improve insulin sensitivity and sex hormone production. Protein sources include poultry, fish, lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy, legumes, and soy.
  • Sources rich in micronutrients that support balanced reproductive hormones: leafy greens, legumes, avocado, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggs, lean red meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, fatty fish and seafood.

Maintain balanced blood sugar levels. Blood glucose levels that are consistently out of range, can lead to insulin resistance. This impact on the hormone insulin can then play a role in disrupting other hormonal functions related to reproduction. By choosing complex carbohydrates and foods high in fiber, as well as eating lean protein, and minimizing intake of refined carbohydrates and foods/drinks high in added sugar – you can promote insulin sensitivity and control blood glucose levels.

Avoid hormone balance disruptors. Known disruptors include exposure from environmental toxins like plastics, pesticides, and some personal care products. You can choose organic produce, glass or stainless steel for food storage, and natural household cleaning products.

Lastly, managing stress. Constant state of stress can take a hit on the balance of our hormones. When we are stressed our body produces a hormone called cortisol. Like a domino effect, when cortisol levels are high, this can impact the function of hormones like insulin, thyroid and reproductive hormones – disrupting metabolism, energy levels, and causing insulin resistance.

  • Manage stress by considering your day to day stress levels (micro scale) as well as the big picture impact of stress on your life (macro scale).

By adopting a wholesome diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins, as well as keeping blood sugar levels maintained, and minimizing exposure to hormone disruptors, you can support optimal hormonal function and reproductive health. Focus on creating a personalized plan that slowly makes adjustments to your lifestyle overtime. 

Work with a Registered Dietitian to set realistic goals on your journey to a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing hormonal balance. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for infant nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

And to stay up to date with all things Dining With Nature, subscribe for free to our monthly newsletter here

 

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The Adventure of Introducing Solid Foods To Your Infant

February 14, 2024

Embark on the exciting journey of introducing flavors to your little one’s palate!

It’s a bit nerve racking to introduce solid foods to your baby. It can feel like there are a lot of unknowns – when is the best time to start? What foods should you try first? How should your baby be fed? etc.

This is an exciting time in your baby’s development that can be diminished by stress. This guide will help ease your mind so that you can enjoy this incredible stage – let’s explore introducing solid foods and ensuring a smooth transition for your baby!

What is the when, what, how of solid food introduction?

When: anywhere from 4 to 6 months of age, your baby will start showing signs of readiness for solid food. 4 months is on the earlier side, and 6 months is the recommended age by the American Academy of Pediatrics but it’s important to pay attention at the low end of the time range because every baby develops at a different rate. Signs to look for are your baby’s ability to sit up with little support, the ability to swallow, and of course their showing interest in solid food.

What: It’s commonly recommended to start with an iron-fortified baby cereal made of one grain, pureed fruits, softened vegetables, and protein sources like pureed meats, beans, and lentils. You can go for the traditional store-bought baby food, or make these yourself at home! There are many cookbooks on the market that guide new parents into making homemade nutritious baby & toddler food, that will provide the nutrients your baby needs for growth and development, as well as be safe on their immature GI system. 

  • Since you will neither be exclusively feeding your baby solids nor exclusively breastfeeding/formula-feeding, it is a good idea to also be mindful of your baby’s hydration. Allow for small sips of water during the solid food meals, from a sippy cup.
  • I also recommend reading our guide for introducing common allergenic foods.

How: start with one new food at a time. Give it some time, maybe a few days, before trying another new food. This allows for you to monitor the response to the food, allergies, or sensitivities. As your baby becomes accustomed to eating solid foods you will want to advance the texture from a puree, then to a mash, finely chopped, and end with small bite size finger food – this progression will help with oral motor development.

  • Most importantly, the atmosphere your baby eats in should be a positive one. The environment we eat in affects how the meal goes. Be sure it’s calm, sit down with your baby, offer them a diversity of foods as you incorporate more, give them textures to explore with their hands. Practice patience, and listen to your baby’s cues.
  • Avoid foods that can be a choking hazard like whole grapes, nuts, or chunks of meat. Be mindful of how much added sugar and salt are being served in the meals.

By being attuned to your baby’s cues, offering a variety of nutrient-rich foods, and maintaining a positive mealtime atmosphere, you are setting the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Enjoy this special time with your little one as they embark on the delicious adventure of discovering new flavors and textures! To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for infant nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

And to stay up to date with all things Dining With Nature, subscribe for free to our monthly newsletter here

 

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Protein-Packed Pregnancy: How To Meet Your Protein Needs During Pregnancy

December 7, 2023

Learn expert strategies to effortlessly meet increased protein demands for a thriving and healthy experience for both you and your baby!

When it comes to macronutrient needs during pregnancy, the focus is on protein and its increased needs during this time. Our carbohydrate and fat needs mostly remain the same as non-pregnancy. 

Protein needs can range between 75 to 100 grams per day during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. Needs will vary based on individual factors like pre-pregnancy weight, health conditions, and physical activity level. But these high demands for protein can feel like a struggle to meet – let’s discuss!

What is protein and why do we need more during pregnancy?

Proteins are made up of amino acids, that play an essential role in our body’s function and structure, such as our hormones, enzymes, tissues and organs. 

During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences an increased demand for protein to support the growth of the fetus, the placenta, and to help the mother’s body adapt to the changes occurring. The development of the baby’s tissues, muscles, organs, brain and central nervous system rely heavily on the mother’s protein intake. While the expanding blood volume, growth of uterus, and development of breast and uterine tissue of the mother require sufficient protein intake as well.

So how can you meet these high protein demands?

  • Know your protein sources. There are many sources of protein that are important to remember when planning your meals. Be sure to incorporate a diverse and variety of protein sources into your daily diet – to avoid becoming bored by options and ensure you are meeting your needs. Here is a short list to keep handy: lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. 
    • When discussing food choices during pregnancy, we always add a quick reminder about food safety – choose reputable sources to buy your food from, clean your food before eating and cooking, and cook it well.
  • Aim for balanced meals. It’s not just about the protein source, but when planning your meals start with the protein source, and choose your whole grain/starchy vegetable, fruits or vegetables, and healthy fat that pair well with that protein. For example greek yogurt (protein) for breakfast with fruit, granola (whole grain) and nuts (healthy fat).
  • Use your snacks. Snacks are bridges to meals but they also serve as a way to help you meet your needs without having to put too much pressure on the meals. Snacks can pack a punch when it comes to nutrients and are very helpful in meeting your protein needs through food. Snack on protein-rich foods like hummus with veggies, a handful of nuts, or a boiled egg.
  • You may need protein supplements. In some cases, a doctor may recommend protein supplements to meet the increased demand. However, these should only be taken under medical supervision.

Protein is an essential nutrient during pregnancy, crucial for both the mother and the baby’s health. Meeting increased protein needs can be achieved by consuming a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of protein sources and taking necessary precautions for safety. Consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance to ensure meeting these needs safely and effectively. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for infant nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

 

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Introducing Allergenic Foods to Babies Safely: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

October 23, 2023

Eliminate the worry and get set up with introducing common allergens to your baby!

When it’s time to start introducing solid foods to your infant, it’s normal to be concerned about potential allergens. But as a parent, you are working to create the best menu to provide optimal nutrition for the growth and development of your new baby.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore when and how to introduce allergenic foods to your baby, ensuring a well-rounded and nutritious diet that accounts for potential allergens and allows for a safe introduction.

Let’s discuss the who, what, when, where, and how of introducing potential allergenic foods to your baby.

  • What are the allergens: Most common allergenic foods for babies include: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. This is an important list to have handy in order to know where/when to actually be concerned. We always aim for less restriction when it comes to food and diet – therefore knowing specifically what to avoid/limit, if anything at all, allows for a more liberal diet.
  • What are the symptoms: Recognizing allergic reactions is crucial for your baby’s safety. Common allergic symptoms to watch for, including hives, swelling, and vomiting. Being aware of the symptoms is the first step in knowing how to respond in case of an allergic reaction, which is essential.
  • When: Parents often ask about the timing of introducing allergenic foods. Research suggests that earlier introduction may actually reduce the risk of allergies.
  • How: Take a low and slow approach to introducing these foods. Begin with small portions, monitor for any adverse reactions, and gradually increase the amount to build tolerance.
  • Who: Work with a pediatrician and/or dietitian. It’s strongly recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before introducing allergenic foods to your baby. We can provide personalized guidance based on your baby’s health and family history.

By following our comprehensive guide and consulting with healthcare professionals, you can ensure your baby enjoys a well-rounded and nutritious diet while minimizing the risk of allergies and worry for you. Remember to tailor your approach to your child’s specific needs because every baby is different and there is no one size fits all when it comes to introducing new foods. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers for infant nutrition care – take a look at our Services page.

 

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Sharing a Personal Update: Focusing on Physical Health in Difficult Times

October 10, 2023

Today is my 34th birthday. I am currently sitting on my porch in Tel Aviv, Israel writing this blog post. 

If you have been following the news, you know that war has broken out in Israel. One of the most serious and deadly in modern history. So what can a Dietitian say during wartime? In hebrew you would ask, מה הקשר? What’s the connection?

On Saturday morning October 7th, 2023, asleep in our apartment in Tel Aviv – we were woken at 7:30am by loud, blaring sirens. My roommate stormed into my room and we both jumped up and ran to our neighbor’s bomb shelter. Me, my roommate, her boyfriend and cousin who were crashing by us for the weekend, and our two neighbors crowded into the bomb shelter completely confused and bewildered. Frantically checking our phones to see what was going on. 

Saturday is Shabbat and would typically be a time of rest from using our devices but our safety was in question. We read that rockets were being shot from the Gaza strip in Israel by Hamas terrorists, into central and south Israel. And that hundreds of Hamas terrorists had infiltrated into Israel from the secured border. Within hours, we learned about hundreds of Israelis murdered, taken hostage, and missing, and that we were at war. We sat in our apartment glued to our phones and the news wanting to learn more and stay safe. Running in and out of the shelter as more sirens went off.

I was meant to fly out Saturday night to Denver, CO to be at the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo and then out to New York a couple days later to see my family. No surprise that my flight was canceled. At first this was really difficult and emotional for me. And all I could think was Man Plans, God Laughs. But then slowly our apartment began to fill with other “Olim” (Jewish immigrants to Israel) friends in the community and we all were together comforting each other however we could. It happened to also have been our neighbor’s birthday that day (what a way to celebrate lol) and she had planned to have a nice sushi dinner out with friends. My roommate, being the incredible person that she is, wanted to make sure that she was still able to celebrate as she wanted to and made sure we got sushi delivery to our apartment that night. We all sat outside on our porch, ate sushi together. It seems like a futile, frivolous, thing in time of war but all I could think of was the importance of staying hydrated and nourished.

You can’t even begin to understand the constant state of fear, the anxiety, and running thoughts you experience in this time. What people do to cope can vastly range, and all you can do is be understanding. But one thing is true for all human bodies, we need food and water to help us even attempt to regulate. Over the last 3 days we have had the pleasure of hosting our friends for breakfast and dinners, feeding everyone healthy, nourishing homemade meals, in a relatively safe space with a nearby bomb shelter. 

Remember that many “Olim” here do not have extended family in this country, they do not have other homes to go to but their own. They have established roots with jobs, homes, partners, pets, children and families, medical needs etc. they cannot just walk away from the lives they built here in the Jewish state, nor should they have to. And they also should not feel, or be alone during this time. 

I tell my patients that when we are in a state of stress, there are 2 responses from our body. One is physiological, when we are stressed our body is releasing hormones that counteract healthy behavior. We can be doing all the healthy behaviors, but if we are stressed it’s as though it is canceled out. It is like walking up a down escalator. And 2, there is a mental barrier. When we are stressed, the last thing we want to do is cook a meal for ourselves – it seems silly and unimportant. And although making a decision like that one time may not be impactful, a decision like that many times can have a great impact on our health. That is why it is so imperative to do our best to find ways to be calm and manage the stress. 

Watching everyone helping to prepare these meals and then sitting down to eat the meal together, like a family, on our porch, has been one of the most comforting things to me. I feel helpless, sitting here mere miles from the homefronts, not able to be of service. Ensuring that people are caring for their physical health when mental health is struggling means everything to me. 

I hope that in the coming days and weeks, we see peace and an end to the violence. I hope we see more lives saved and comfort for those who have lost loved ones. In the meantime, take care of yourself – find support from others, take mental health breaks, and cook yourself a really yummy dinner.

 

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Folate Fundamentals: Understanding Nutritional Needs of Vitamin B9 and Its Role in Pregnancy

September 21, 2023

Uncover the crucial role of folate in a healthy pregnancy and explore why optimizing folate intake is essential for expectant mothers. 

Getting deep into individual micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is not the best approach to nutrition care. Food is complex. The body is complex. And to zero in on one nutrient does a disservice to you and your health. But in the case of folate during pregnancy, it’s important to highlight the need for this vitamin and why. 

Let’s delve into what folate is, explore its nutritional needs, and discuss its significance during pregnancy.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is one of the water-soluble vitamins that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions. It’s especially important during pregnancy due to its role in preventing birth defects and supporting maternal health.

Starting in our teen and adult years, we need 400 micrograms of folate per day. And during pregnancy this is increased to 600-800 micrograms per day, this is due to the additional demands of your developing fetus. 

As a result, most healthcare providers will recommend that people who are pregnant take a prenatal supplement in addition to a well-balanced diet rich in sources of folate. B9 is found in foods like greens (spinach and kale), legumes (lentils and chickpeas), citrus fruits, fortified cereals, and avocado.

So what is the significance of folate during pregnancy?

  • Folate is vital to the synthesis and repair of our DNA, and as a result is necessary for cell division and growth. This aids normal tissue growth during your pregnancy to optimize maternal health.
  • Folate supports the production of red blood cells, who are our transporters for oxygen throughout the body. This function helps you in the prevention of anemia during pregnancy.
  • And most significantly, folate is vital for the proper development of the neural tube, which eventually becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Insufficient folate during this period can lead to neural tube defects like spina bifida.

Meeting folate nutritional needs, especially during pregnancy, is essential for both maternal and fetal health. It’s recommended to work with a healthcare provider like a Dietitian to help guide you in meeting your folate needs. Dietitians can provide personalized guidance based on your individual health and pregnancy circumstances – both in terms of diet and supplementation. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.

 

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Nutrition Strategies for a Healthy Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

September 13, 2023

Discover effective gestational diabetes nutrition strategies and management tips, helping you ensure a healthy pregnancy and optimal outcomes!

There are health conditions that impact women specifically during pregnancy. One of the more common ones is gestational diabetes (GDM). GDM is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body not producing enough insulin to meet the increased demands during pregnancy.

Doctors will screen for GDM at the 24-28 weeks mark of pregnancy, and if diagnosed, it is important to seek the care of a Dietitian for support in managing the condition and avoid further complications. Proper nutrition management will directly work to manage blood sugar levels to significantly improve outcomes for both you and your baby.

General nutrition requirements are similar to those during pregnancy. Energy needs, carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements all stay the same with a focus more on the quality and distribution of meals. Let’s discuss nutrition strategies for GDM:

  • Monitoring blood glucose levels. With any type of diabetes, the goal is to maintain your blood sugar levels to avoid having super highs and super lows, frequently in the day. Take time to monitor your blood glucose levels as recommended by your doctor, keep a journal to track what you ate and how your levels responded. Start noticing patterns and how your body reacts to different foods and meals so you can best manage.
  • Food Choices & Diet Quality. Keeping your blood glucose within range and preventing any spikes & crashes, requires focusing on eating balanced meals to allow for a slower digestion process. Balanced meals include:
    • Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains like brown rice, beans and legumes like lentils, and/or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. Also focus on reducing intake of foods/drinks high in refined sugar.
    • Foods rich in fiber like whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables. Fiber works to slow down the digestion process and with that is able to prevent major spikes in blood sugar levels, and keep you feeling fuller longer.
    • Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds are an essential part of the diet during pregnancy, providing important nutrients. They are also beneficial to our blood sugar levels after a meal.
    • And lastly, your meal should always include a lean protein like poultry, fish, tofu, or legumes. In addition to being helpful in managing blood sugar levels, protein will keep you feeling satisfied and provide essential nutrition during pregnancy.
  • Daily Meal Pattern. Another important element of managing your blood glucose levels is not only what you eat but how much and when. Create a meal schedule that works for you, aim to spread your meals out throughout the day – avoid extreme hunger or extreme fullness. Use your plate as a guide for how much to eat each meal. Consider using measuring cups and food scales too.
  • Physical activity. Aim to include pregnancy-safe movement into your daily routine. Avoid too much sedentary time and focus on light movement after meals as a way to help control blood sugar levels. **Speak to your doctor about what is safe/allowed for you during this time**

Having to manage a condition like GDM on top of being pregnant, can be challenging.  But with support and guidance from a Dietitian, as well as other healthcare professionals, you can create a personalized plan that works for you and properly manage and monitor your progress.

By making informed food choices, staying active, and following your healthcare provider’s guidance, you can optimize your health and the health of your baby. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.

 

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