As the holiday season approaches so do the office holiday parties, friend gatherings, family get-togethers, cookie exchange parties as well as the anxiety over maintaining your lifestyle of healthy eating. You can make it through this time of year staying on track with these few helpful tips.
by Jen Leone, RDN
Pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding?
Tips for a healthy mom and baby.
Prior to Conceiving
You probably already know that in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, it’s important to eat a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy. Did you also know that it’s important to have a healthy diet and lifestyle in the days and weeks leading up to becoming pregnant? Many women don’t learn they are pregnant for weeks or even months after conceiving. The first two months of development are critical, when most tissues and organs are formed. What you do or don’t do prior to becoming pregnant can not only impact fertility, but can also lead to potential problems for your baby. Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet full of lots of fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, prior to becoming pregnant. You should also avoid things like alcohol, smoking, and excessive amounts of caffeine—all of which can put your pregnancy and baby at risk.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Having a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure a healthy baby and pregnancy. “Eating for two,” does not mean you need double the calories you consumed prior to pregnancy. For most, an additional 350-450 calories per day are adequate for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters respectively. These amounts are higher or lower if you are underweight or overweight. Certain vitamins and minerals are especially important during pregnancy. Folic Acid can help prevent certain birth defects and help growth and development. It’s important for anyone pregnant or planning to become pregnant to consume 400 mg of folic acid each day in food or supplement form. Along with pregnancy comes increased needs for iron. Iron is important for brain development and low iron can lead to preterm delivery and/or low-birthweight infants. A 30 mg iron supplement is recommended daily during pregnancy. Iron supplements can lead to constipation so make sure you are drinking plenty of water and getting adequate fiber from eating at least 5 servings of a combination of fruits and vegetables each day.
Are there foods that are unsafe during pregnancy?
Yes. During pregnancy your body is more susceptible to infections and other illness. Some can cause harm to your baby. To prevent foodborne illness, you should avoid raw or smoked fish, oysters, unpasteurized cheese and milk. You should also avoid raw or undercooked meats or eggs, raw sprouts, and cook/heat all luncheon meats to 165˚ before consuming. It is also recommended that you avoid consuming all fish that is high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, marlin, and orange roughy since high amounts of mercury are toxic.
Healthy Mom = Healthy Baby
Your overall health impacts the health of your baby. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to you and your baby. Mild to moderate exercise during pregnancy can help you feel better, help prevent excessive weight gain, help prevent gestational diabetes, help with back pain, and in some cases can shorten the duration of labor. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can affect fetal growth and development, lead to gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preterm delivery. Smoking and drinking alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. You should check with a health care provider before using any herbal supplements as some are not safe to use during pregnancy. Beverages with caffeine should be limited to 3 cups (24 oz) or less per day.
Nutrition while Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition that you can provide to your baby. The benefits to both mom and baby are numerous. It increases bonding between mother and baby, it can help protect infants from infections and diseases, helps prevent sudden infant death, leads to greater cognitive function in infants and children, and can help mom return to pre-pregnancy weight faster. Human milk provides all the nutrients your baby needs and the composition changes naturally as your baby grows. In order to ensure you are producing the highest quality milk for your baby, it’s important that you consume the proper nutrients. Milk production requires an extra 500 calories each day for the first 6 months for moms at normal weight and 400 calories after 6 months. It’s important to consume a well-balanced diet, rich in protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods high in calcium and vitamin D. You may find your thirst increases while breastfeeding so be sure to drink plenty of fluids as well. Total fluid recommendations for lactating mothers is 3.8 liters, or about 128 oz.
Motherhood is a journey that begins long before your baby is born. It starts with pregnancy and lasts a lifetime. Taking care of yourself, eating well, and living a healthy lifestyle can help ensure your baby has a healthy beginning that leads to a bright future. We wish you and your family a lifetime of good health!
Source: Judith E. Brown. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2017.
Food is a choice
Day in and day out, we make choices about what we eat or more importantly what we don’t or won’t eat. Those choices, grounded by belief, can be for a variety of reasons including preference, intolerance, allergy, fad, or illness. Whatever the reason, are the choices you make sabotaging your health and well-being? Are you depriving yourself of foods you love or more importantly foods you need?
In the clinical nutrition world, patients are often told they should “restrict sodium, reduce fat, reduce sugar, lower cholesterol, etc” as related to their particular illness. However, more often than not, the patient does not hear “reduce, restrict, lower” they hear “YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY <insert favorite food here>. Cue scary music.
Understanding our choices
Before we continue, it is important to understand the definitions of sabotage and deprivation. The definition of sabotage is “a deliberate action aimed at weakening something or someone through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction”. Note the first part…a deliberate act of weakening. What about deprivation? The definition of deprivation: the state of being kept from possessing, enjoying, or using something. Based on these definitions, ask yourself the following question. “Am I deliberately depriving myself of essential nutrients that without them are weakening my body?
If you aren’t sure the answer to that question, then ask yourself these questions:
The effects of our choices
The use of the terms “good” or “bad”, avoiding or restricting certain foods, and using food as a reward can lead to a host of “unhealthy” eating habits and long-term health consequences.
First, let’s talk about your mental health. Yes mental health. Everyone is talking about it so why not talk about it in terms of food. Many people are familiar with the more common diseases related to food such as anorexia or bulimia. Anorexia is the act of “restricting” food and bulimia is the act of overeating and then restricting or purging. Unfortunately, if untreated, this deprivation of food that supplies your brain can lead to an increased and usually exaggerated sense of dissatisfaction with the body.
What if you are just trying to improve your overall health? Which type of food are you eliminating or avoiding? For me, it would be chocolate. For some it might be “carbs” in general. For others it might be dairy. Maybe it is not as broad as that. Maybe it is only cheese and not ice cream. Whatever “it” is, avoiding it might be sabotaging your attempts to improve overall nutrition status, manage a chronic illness, manage your weight, and even improve your mental health, or all of the above. For example if you are avoiding cheese, you are giving up a good source of calcium. People will say well I am eating ice cream. My response to that is that ice cream has lots of sugar. There are pros and cons to our choices.
Regardless of why you are avoiding a particular food or if you are following a “reward” system, for most people it can lead to a cycle of emotional eating, overeating, and/or bingeing. We tell ourselves I was “good” today so I can have this “bad” food. This leads to feelings of guilt because you just ate a “bad” food.
These acts of sabotage, whether intentional or not intentional, can also lead other chronic illnesses such as:
· chronic gastrointestinal issues
· dehydration (which leads to a host of other issues)
· bone and muscle loss
· difficulty getting pregnant
So how do we STOP sabotaging our health?
Overcoming self-sabotage is not an easy process and takes time, focus, and diligence. Try to remember, the negative effects of deprivation outweigh the benefits. Go back to the last paragraph and re-read the negative effects of deprivation. Is it worth it? Here are some ways to overcome sabotage leading to deprivation.
Sources: Laura Ligos, MBA, RD, CSSD, The sassy dietitian. How to Stop Sabotaging your Diet
Beth Cecil, Owensboro Health HealthPark dietitian. Donuts in your Cart.
Terrified of Seeing the Dietitian? What to Expect….
If I had a dime for every time a patient said “I didn’t want to come here” or “I was a little scared to come see you” or “Oh, that wasn’t bad at all!” well, I’d have a lot of dimes. Truth be told, I love hearing patients say things like this because it means I’ve done my job. It means I made them feel comfortable enough to talk about their situation with me and that they learned some tips and tools to help live longer, healthier lives. Over the past eight years as a registered dietitian, I’ve learned people often loathe and fear us even before meeting us personally. This keeps some people from seeing a registered dietitian and working on improving their health. So I wanted to take the time to explain what a registered dietitian is and what to expect when you sit down across from one of us.
The first thing to know is that a nutritionist and a registered dietitian nutritionist are not the same. Our credential changed in 2013 from Registered Dietitian (RD) to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to try and clear up this confusion. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Anyone. A RDN must have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, completed 1200 hours in a supervised practice program in a healthcare setting and passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Some of us have other letters of the alphabet behind our names which indicates we did further training in a specialty area. For example, CDE stands for a Certified Diabetes Educator and CSO is a Certified Specialist in Oncology. As RDNs, we have to keep up with new research and changing guidelines and are required to have 75 units of continuing education credits every five years to remain credentialed as a RDN. Note some dietitians have opted to keep the RD credential instead of RDN. They still have the same schooling and requirements. Therefore, if you go to someone for nutrition information who does not have the RD or RDN credential, you are not getting advice from the true expert in food and nutrition and are really doing yourself a disservice.
What to expect at a visit:
We want to get to know you! We don’t just look over your chart and begin lecturing you about your diet. We typically receive a referral from your doctor and a diagnosis. Sometimes we get your last clinic visit note from your doctor. So we really don’t know much about you. The RDN will spend some time gathering information about you such as why you were referred or chose to see us, what you’d like to learn, what your health and wellness goals are and general health info such as your height, weight, recent weight changes, health history, medications you take, etc. We will likely do a “diet recall” where we ask you to describe a typical meal, snack, beverage, etc. We want to know what you usually eat and what you like to eat.
We want you to be honest. We aren’t here to judge what or how much you eat. All of us entered this profession because we want to help people. Being honest with us lets us help you. I can’t speak for all dietitians but I’m not appalled if you say you eat ice cream and cookies every night. I like ice cream and cookies too. Together, we’ll figure out how ice cream and cookies could still fit in your life and how to still meet your health and wellness goals. One of my philosophies is we have to find behavioral changes you feel like you can sustain for a lifetime. We aren’t in the business of quick fixes and we’ll be here to support you along the way as you make these changes.
After the assessment, we work with you to make a plan. We provide education regarding weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, food allergies or whatever it is you came to see us for. We will help you set specific, achievable goals. We can work with your doctor if we feel more lab tests need to be done or if we think a different medication might work better for you. Then we will schedule follow up visits to monitor your progress in meeting your health and wellness goals. Sometimes we work with you for a short time period. Other times we work with you for years. This all depends on your health and wellness goals.
In conclusion, we are not the food police. We are here to help you make the changes you want to make. Your agenda is our agenda and not vice versa. You are the most important person on your healthcare team and we are honored if you choose us to join your team. Come see us!
Denver Wellness and Nutrition Registered Dietitians provide useful blog post about health and tips for success. Our RD's are committed to greatness at every step towards your optimal health.