Nourishing Kids on Beach Days

I absolutely LOVE the beach! My happiest place is sitting in the sand playing with my kids while listening to the waves roll in the background. Luckily I have three children that love it too. One thing that caught me off guard the first few times we went to the beach was how often someone asked for something to eat. The fresh air and extra activity seems to take their already fast metabolisms off the charts! By trial and error, I have come up with a strategy that seems to work really well so I thought I would share it.

  1. Plan ahead and pack lots of food the night before. I find that kids can be put into two categories…this with big appetites in the fresh air and those who are distracted by playing at the beach and eat very little. Be ready for both with healthy snacks for the car ride there and back, as well as lots of food for at the beach. I make up two individual snacks per child…one for the car ride there and one for the car ride back. Then I prepare the rest of the food in bulk. This way I know that they are arriving well fueled, they can access as much or as little as they want throughout the day, and then they can refuel up on the way home. I also find that having food ready for the trip home limits the melt downs about leaving…at least it does for my kids as they love to eat. Here are a few tips for the food you pack:
  • Take only healthy foods so that they fill up on good energy while their appetites are high. If you take chips and apples, then they are likely to just choose the chips. If the chips are not there, they will eat the apples.
  • Think about how hot things will get and try to prioritize the options you pull out earlier in the day based on what will survive the heat least to best.
  • Take an empty container for each child that you can portion their food into when they are ready to  eat. Do so in small quantities though. That way if it gets dumped into the sand, you have not lost a whole meal.

Here are some ideas of food combinations to pack for the car:

  • trail mix: dry cereal (ie. cheerios) with dried fruit, and sliced almonds.
  • apple slices and raisins
  • cheese and crackers
  • muffin chunks with apple and cheese
  • cucumber slices, baby carrots, and pita slices
  • Things I avoid: dips and peanut butter (too messy/sticky), berries (can be mushy if dropped and stain the car seat), watermelon (super juicy), and whole grapes for children that have just graduated from sliced to whole (choking hazard at a time when your children are not easily accessible).

Here are some foods to take in bulk:

  • Whole apples or apple slices (these are best eaten earlier in the day before going brown)
  • Fresh fruit medley: grapes (halved for anyone under three years age), strawberries (cut into bite size pieces), melon chunks, blueberries, and blackberries…these can all be together or have their own container.
  • Tupperware with veggies in it: cucumber slices, pepper spears of chunks, baby carrots, snap peas, and baby tomatoes cut in half with a container of hummus for dipping
  • Pita triangles (these can be whole grain pitas and/or breakfast pitas) and /or Bagel chunks (cut a bagel in half and then into 6 or 7 pieces)…these can both be dipped into hummus as well or into natural peanut or almond butter.
  • whole grain crackers
  • cheese strings or cheese chunks
  • yogurt tubes
  • smoothies put into the re-usable pouch or store bought fruit puree pouches
  • whole grain wraps spread with peanut butter, rolled, and cut into three of four pieces
  • sandwich fixings: wraps of bread on their own and small containers of mayo, mustard, leftover chicken or turkey, lettuce, diced tomato, etc. that you can assemble at the beach)
  • almonds
  • raisins or other dried fruit
  • dried chickpeas
  • pretzels (save these for later in the day ideally)

For anything that needs to stay cold, take a cooler pack and ensure that those foods are prioritized to be eaten first.

The next step is preventing everything from getting sand into it or being eaten by seagulls. I find a specific spot that food can be and insist that lids stay on all containers other than when the kids are ready to eat. I ask them to wipe their hands as best possible on the towel (this is hit or miss) and then offer small amounts in their container when they ask. As I mentioned above, this prevents you from losing your whole container of apples if they accidentally dump what they are eating into the sand. I also remind them to watch for birds and never feed the bird or throw food to the birds. Once a bird has been fed, it will likely not leave you alone.  Wes had a bird take a piece of food from his hand last year, so since then, they have been pretty compliant with this request!

Remember that no matter how preapred you are, things will happen. Clay got ahold of the apples yesterday and as glad as I am that he enjoyed a healthy snack, they did get sandy. I just rinsed them off though and it was fine. No one seemed to mind as they were all eaten by the end of the day.  A few pita triangles hit the sand as well. Those were not as easy to rescue. Such is life at the beach!

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Also remember when you are packing food for the day that you need to eat too! Pack enough for you to have access to all the healthy things you are packing for your children.

Water is another important thing to take extra of. Dehydration at the beach on a hot day can happen quite quickly as children may not think to ask for water. Ensure that each child (and you too) have a water bottle that is out and visible. Don’t be afraid to remind your children to take a drink every once in a while. Setting a timer can work well for this too.

2. The next thing to ensure is that everyone has a hearty breakfast for everyone leaving. This way everyone is nourished and ready for whatever the day may hold.

3. When coming home from the beach, everyone tends to be quite tired. Beach days are amazing, but take a toll on the energy level of everyone involved. You will likely all be hungry for supper when arriving home. Have a healthy and easy supper that can be easily prepared and offered to your family. I try to choose something that I know my kids will enjoy to ensure that they will eat quickly and be ready to move on to bedtime in a decent amount of time. Don’t feel that it needs to be a hot meal either as a cold meal is sometimes easiest and even more enjoyable for children. One of my favourite oiptions is to have chicken breasts already cooked in the fridge that I can dice up and serve to my kids with pita wedges and cold veggies, and to myself and my husband on a simple spinach salad. This creates a complete and healthy supper and can be ready within minutes of walking in the door.

4. Last but not least…early to bed for all! Your kids could need up to an extra hour of sleep from a full day at the beach. Don’t be afraid to encourage an earlier bed time for them (and yourself too) to prevent tired melt downs that evening or the following day.  Remember food offers children nourishment to grow, but most of the actual growing (both physically and mentally) happens when they are sleeping!

Well, this list could go on and on and but hopefully these ideas get you started. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy summer full of family fun at the beach, parks, and pools!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

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Nutrient Packed Breakfasts for Kids (and parents too!)

I am sure we can all agree that sending our little ones off to daycare, preschool, school, play group, or the park, etc. with a full tummy gives us comfort. We know that they will be able to play, think, and learn well until their next snack or meal if they leave their home well nourished. There are two issues that can creep into this ideal. One is that mornings can be rushed and secondly,  some children would rather play than eat when they get up.

In our home, mornings are definitely busy and I have one son who is never in the mood to head straight to the breakfast table…the other two are quite interested which helps. One strategy that I put into place is consistency. I have a timer that goes off 10 minutes after the twins are up to let us know it is breakfast time. This allows for a little bit of reading, playing, and cuddles but also means that we don’t leave breakfast so late that we get behind or I end up in a position where we are rushing the children (especially Wes…my non-breakfast guy) to finish. If there is a morning that I am up earlier with the baby and I have already eaten, I sit with a cup of tea and a bit more fruit when the twins eat. Most mornings we can all eat together thankfully.

The second strategy that I use is to offer simple, nutrient packed meals that have variety to them. This way, I know that they have a jump start on their nutrition needs for the day. I aim for representation from all food groups with a form of grain, milk (or alternative), fruit, and meat alternative. With this, I can ensure that they are starting their day with long acting and short acting carbohydrates, a source of protein, as well as healthy fats for their brain development and supporting mental health.  On weekends, I tend to make more complex breakfasts such as pancakes or waffles or quiche, but on weekdays, we need easy, quick, nutritious and delicious.

Here are some of my kids faves (and they are great for parents too!):

  1. Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes. This is a pancake mix with extra protein and added oat fibre. I make them with coconut milk instead of water to boost the micronutrient and caloric density and I will often add 1 Tbsp. Baby Brain Organics per cup of Pancake mix for a brain boosting omega-3 addition. I serve these with the kids choice of fruit and/or dried fruit and sometimes a little coconut yogurt/goat or feta cheese and/or seeds as well. Depends on the day and how hungry they are as to how much or little I add beyond fruit. Fruit is a must though!!!
  2. PB (or AB) and Hemp Wrap. Whole grain wrap with natural peanut or almond butter and 1 Tbsp. of shelled hemp hearts sprinkled inside. You can all add sliced banana, apple, pear or raisins if you wish. My son prefers his fruit on the side.
  3. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait. The key here is using yogurt that is thick and protein packed. I serve my kids Liberte 9% and add in berries and/or sliced bananas then top with homemade granola and/or seeds and dried fruit. My one son is allergic to oats, so I just leave the granola off of his and offer a homemade muffin instead.
  4. Overnight oats. This is a great one to make in bulk for the whole family! Take a mason jar per person and add about 1/3 cup steel cut oats, add in 1 Tbsp. chia seeds, hemp hearts or baby brain organics. Then add 2-3 TBsp of milk, 1/3 cup Greek, coconut, or soy yogurt, and your choice of fruit. Put the lid on and shake, then put it into the fridge overnight. The oats soak up the moisture from the milk and yogurt and the fruit softens and releases flavor into the whole mixture. I like to add texture to this with a little diced apple or pear added in the morning. For an extra boost of protein and flavor, you can also add 1/2-1 Tbsp. of PB2 to the mixture. I will be talking more about this product in a post to come. For now I will say that it is an awesome way to get the protein and fibre that peanut butter offers, with 85% less fat. Healthy fat is definitely a good thing though, so don’t be afraid to keep using the real thing!
  5. Make ahead eggs. This is another one that is great for the whole family. Mix together eggs, milk, shredded cheese, and place it into the fridge. In the morning, pour into a microwave safe bowl and microwave the mixture one minute per egg used OR put into a frying pan and cook until the eggs are done. These can be served in a whole grain wrap, English muffin or toast. Eggs can remain quite hot for a while, so this is a good one to finish cooking before your children come to the table. You can add some fresh diced avocado to it or any fruit that your children enjoy on the side. If they are hungry right away, they could enjoy the fruit while the eggs are cooking and cooling.
  6. Cereal. Okay this one seems so simple…and it is, but I decided to include it anyway. The key to healthy cereals is low sugar. I offer multigrain Cheerios and rice Chex as the two most common options for my kids. Rhett is the main reason we have Chex in the house as there are very few cereals that do not contain oats. Shreddies and Vector are two that they enjoy as a treat. And as mentioned above, this would be with milk, fruit, and some nuts or seeds on top of on the side. To speed this option along you can always portion the cereal the night before so you only have to add a handful of blueberries and top with milk. This is a great one for kids to help with too!FullSizeRender (9)
  7. Smoothie (or just milk) and toast (or muffin) and nuts or nut butter. This is another simple one. Smoothie recipes are endless…you can see some of my previous post: Smoothies to Beat the Heat (links don’t seem to be working but I will add one once they are again). With toast, ideally it is whole grain and then we can add more nutrition with coconut butter and natural peanut or almond butter on top. With muffins, homemade with low sugar and whole wheat flour is key! You can also sprinkle some chia seeds or hemp seeds on top of either. One of my sons loves to add natural almond butter and feta cheese to his toast and muffins, with berries, apple, or pear slices on top or on the side. IMG_8433
  8. Pita Break Breakfast Pitas. My boys love these toasted and cut into triangles and served with yogurt, fruit, and almonds. Sometimes we do a natural nut butter in place of the almonds. FullSizeRender (8)

 

 

 

I hope you find these ideas inspiring for your morning routine ahead!

Until next time…stay healthy!!!

 

 

 

Meals for Me and My Minis turns 1!

A year ago this afternoon, I put my youngest (then 11 months old) down for nap and I took the plunge of starting a new IG page (@mealsformeandmyminis) and this blog. It was something I had thought about for months and grew more excited about each time that I guest blogged. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I knew that I had a passion for offering health, food, and fitness ideas and inspirations to moms for themselves and their families, so I went for it.

When I started the blog, I was careful to set out priorities and make sure that it did not take over for times that I should be with my family, meeting with friends, cleaning my house, making healthy meals, getting a run or workout in, or resting.  Because of this, there were ebbs and flows in the time that I had to be on here throughout the year, but it never ceased to amaze me the incredible support that I received.

Thank you all so much!

Cheers to another year of keeping ourselves and our littles healthy and happy. I have a few collabs and new posts in the works with lots of new ideas for you to try this summer. Stay tuned 😉

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Smoothie Bowls

Smoothie bowls have become a favorite of mine recently. I enjoy them for a refreshing breakfast or lunch but most of all I like them for evening snack. I LOVE ice cream so they provide a way for me to feel like I am eating ice cream, but in reality I am consuming fewer calories and more nutrients. These are amazing for kids too and can be thinned down with a little extra milk if kids prefer to drink them like a regular smoothie.

For any of the recipes below, you can use cow’s milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc. If you are using a cow’s milk alternative, just make sure that it is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. There are a few I have specified coconut milk for as I think that it tastes best with those recipes, but if you do not have it in the house, then any milk is fine.

Here are my 6 favourite combos to blend together:

  1. Black Forest Cake: 1 cup chocolate milk (or 1 cup alternate milk with 1Tbsp.chocolate syrup), 1/2 cup Black Cherry Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen cherries (or berries), 1 banan
  2. Matcha Monkey: 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or vanilla coconut yogurt), 1 Tbsp. shelled hemp hearts, 1 Tbsp. unsweetened matcha, 1 banana (preferably frozen)
  3. Green Berry Bonanza: 1 cup milk, 1-2 cups frozen berries, 1 banana, 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened Matcha powder
  4.  Tropical Tornado: 1 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup vanilla flavoured coconut yogurt, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup frozen pineapple
  5. Key Lime Pineapple: 1 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup Key Lime Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 cup frozen pineapple.
  6. Beautiful Berries: 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2 cups frozen berries

Once they are blended and in the bowl, you can top them with granola, fresh fruit, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sliced almonds, etc.

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Until next time….stay healthy!

Grocery Shopping with Children

What words come to mind when you think of grocery shopping with your children? Chaos? Distraction? Battles? Exhausting?

I think most parents would agree that all of these words could be applicable at points. Having said that, taking your kids grocery shopping is one of the best things you can do for them on so many levels. Having said that, there are some tips I would like to share with you to help make th experience the least stressful and most beneficial possible. This is not to say that you will not leave the store feeling frazzled…I often do. But I am still always glad they came.

  1. Tell your child(ren) how excited you are that they will be with you to buy food for the family. You can describe how important this is and how helpful they are to do it with you. Children love to feel important!
  2. Before going to then store talk to your child(ren) about making a list. Maybe ask if they have any requests. Aim to keep your list minimal so that you are not in the store for too long. Be reasonable to the attention span of your child. This will keep it a positive experience for both/all of you.
  3. Let your child(ren) know before heading into the store that there will be no “treats” purchased at any time on this shopping trip. And flow though on this every time. As soon as you give in, it becomes a challenge every single time!
  4. Ask your child(ren) to each choose a fruit or vegetable that they would like to choose for the family to eat. Buy enough of each chosen food for the whole family to enjoy and when it comes time to serve it you can make a big deal about the fact that ______ chose it. This again reinforces that they are important.
  5. Try to shop early in the day or after nap and take a healthy snack along with you. If your child(ren) is/are hungry or tired they are more likely to act out or be cranky.
  6. Stay focussed on your child(ren) as much as possible. I find that if I am looking at my phone, talking to a friend that I happen to run into, or investigating a new food the chaos level escalates.

Well these are some strategies that work for me. Hopefully they help you out with your next shopping trip with your minis. If you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them! Feel free to comment below!

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Until next time….stay healthy!

 

Ten Kid-Friendly Meatless Monday Meal Ideas

I love to make as many meatless meals as possible in our home, but I find it tough sometimes to find things my kids will enjoy. My personal favourite is a hearty veggie and bean soup or salad with nuts and seeds and hard boiled egg, but the boys tend to turn their noses up at these choices. So, I have salads and veggie soups for lunch most days and serve more kid-approved meatless options for supper. If meatless meals are new to you, you could start to try “Meatless Mondays” in your home. Here are a few options that my kids enjoy that yours may as well.

  1. Bean, peppers, and cheese quesadillas: Ingredients are simple: whole grain wrap with finely diced peppers and black beans covered in cheese (I use cheddar cheese for my husband and my youngest and Daiya diary free cheese for myself and the twins). I add diced tomatoes to the side and mash avocado on the side for a dip. My husband and I like to add salsa as well.
  2. Peanut butter quesadillas: whole grain wrap with natural peanut (or almond) butter and shelled hemp hearts. You can add banana or apple or raisins inside or any fruit or dried fruit on the side.
  3. Cucumber pita: Whole grain pita (or OneBun) with hummus and cucumber slices.
  4. Eggs…this can be as an egg and veggie scramble, crust-less quiche, hard boiled, scrambled, or however you and your children like your eggs done. Serve with lots of veggies and whole grain crackers, toast, wrap, or English muffin. Full of nutrients, quick to make, and economical.
  5.  “Nachos”: Triscuit triangles and shredded cheese under the broiler for a few minutes topped with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado.
  6. Snack plate: Whole grain pita, baby carrots, sliced cucumber, hummus or cottage cheese for dip, almonds, dried chickpeas, and apple slices.
  7. Meatless Sloppy Joe’s: Veggie ground round cooked up with a bit of tomato paste or BBQ sauce spread onto a bun and then cut into quarters with cut up veggies and hummus on the side.
  8. “Fish Pot Pie”: Any white fish (I like to use sole or haddock), dipped into egg white and bread crumbs then baked until fish is flaky. My kids LOVE this meal and ask for it all the time. They like to dip the fish in salad dressing which isn’t ideal but I choose my battles. I like to serve the fish with sweet potato chips and steamed broccoli or snap peas for a nice colourful plate.
  9. Mac and Cheese…this can be traditional or dairy free and/or gluten free.
  10. Manicotti: This is not one that I make. I buy the fresh manicotti from Costco and bake it for 35 minutes at 350. Hands down a perfect meal for a day you do not have time to prep. I like to serve it with peas and corn and diced avocado to keep it a really easy meal.

Hope this gives you some fun inspiration for your venture into Meatless Monday’s.

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

Salmon Burgers

These burgers have been a favourite of mine for a long time. They can be baked in the oven or cooked on the BBQ depending on the time of year. I really like them on top of a salad, but they can totally be eaten on a bun with a bit of light mayo and pickles for the finishing touches!

Salmon Burgers

Ingredients:

28 Triscuits or Kashi crackers or other whole grain cracker, crushed

2 cups of diced fresh salmon OR two 7.5oz cans of salmon (well drained)

½ sweet onion (diced or minced)

½ red or yellow or green pepper (diced or minced)

2 Tbsp. low fat mayonnaise

2Tbsp low fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp chilli garlic sauce or 2 tsp sweet chili sauce with 1 tsp pureed garlic

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. In a food processor, crush the crackers as finely as possible.
  3. Leave the rest of the crackers in the food processor and add all the other ingredients and blend.
  4. Form into burgers – you can make 8-10 large or up to 30 mini.
  5. Bake on cookie sheet or baking stone or on the BBQ for about 10 minutes on each side, or until they flake apart. If using fresh salmon, be sure that it is cooked through and flaking apart

Serve with a garden or spinach salad.

 Nutrition Notes: Mix together fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt with sweet chilli sauce or garlic sauce for a yummy topping/dip.

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Until next time….stay healthy!

Nutrition to Maximize your Workout Results

As moms it can be super hard to find time to work out. I find that incorporating activity into time with my children works best for me on most days. Whether it is taking them for a run or walk that ends at the parks, lifting them “on and off” and “in and out” of things, chasing them, playing soccer with them, or just pulling myself up on the monkey bars in sets of 10, I try to make sure I am active every day. Some moms say they feel guilty being active with their children, and everyone needs to do what they are comfortable with. For me, I hope that I am setting an example for them of how we can fit exercise into our daily life to support a healthy body.

Having said that, there are days when I prefer an evening run after they are in bed. It is so nice to just clear my head and run without any distractions. Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I think and pray.

Depending on when your workout is, and what type of workout you are doing, your nutrition surrounding it can really make a difference in your results. Since it is so hard to find time to be active…we want to make sure we are maximizing our results.

So here are a few important tips:

  1. Pre-workout snacks or meals (consumed about 1-2 hours prior to workout) should incorporate a long activing carbohydrate with a source of protein. Ideally they are low in fat and free of foods that cause gas. For example, avoid high bran cereals and certain fresh veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts if you are heading for a run or to a spin class in the upcoming few hours.
    • Good choices for pre-workout meal are:
      • Steel cut oats with Greek yogurt and berries
      • Whole grain wrap with almond butter and banana
      • Whole grain pita with low fat Swiss, spinach, tomato, and cucumber
      • Roasted sweet potato with chicken
    • Good choices for a pre-workout snack are:
      • Piece of whole grain bread with natural peanut butter
      • Homemade, low sugar granola with Greek yogurt
  2. During your workout, your body does not need additional nutrition as long as the aerobic part of your workout is less than 60 minutes. If you will have your heart rate up in the aerobic stage for longer than 60 minutes, then you will want to consider a source of quick acting carbs in the form of a sports drink. It is important that you do not dilute these as they are made to be absorbed rapidly to be used for energy. It is recommended to have 0.1-0.2 grams of carbohydrate per kg BW every 20-30 minutes when active longer than 60 minutes. This translates into about 4 oz every 15 minutes. These will hydrate you as well, but additional water is required at times.
  3. Post workout (within 15 minutes of finishing), your body needs quick acting carbohydrates to feed the brain and central nervous system and also replenish your glycogen stores. It also needs protein to repair and support the building of muscle tissue. If you consume too much protein with inadequate carbohydrates, your body will use the back bone of protein to service its carbohydrate needs, instead of using protein for muscle building and repair. Therefore, you need to consume more carbohydrates than protein post-workout for the most efficient process. This is not a time to make your body work harder to get what it needs.

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I left you with a teaser today of what I consume post workout. When I finish my 10 Km runs and 1 hour spin classes, I always drink 1 cup of chocolate milk afterwards. Chocolate soy milk i an alternative for those you do not drink cow’s milk. Okay, so the response I get from almost everyone (who isn’t an RD) when I say this is….BUT IT HAS SO MUCH SUGAR!!!!!! Yes, it doe,s and that is the point! Post workout is one of the few times that we actually want to consume a quick acting sugar. Your body needs to know that you are there to nourish it. The key part here is not just consuming the chocolate milk, but also the timing. Research has shown us time and time again that consuming 1 cup of chocolate milk within 15 minutes of the end of your workout is best and contributes to the best results such as increased muscle mass, reduced muscle wasting, reduced overeating later in the day/evening, and overall a better metabolism. Recommendations from research would go on to say that we should consume another healthy meal or snack again within 60 minutes of consuming the chocolate milk.

Okay, so if you are wondering if there is another alternative that you could have instead…I am always asked for alternatives…then I will tell you this. The number goals are to have a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Chocolate milk has 30 grams of quick acting carbs and 8-9 grams of complete protein. Soy chocolate milk has the same. I have been asked if Greek yogurt and berries is okay instead. My answer is that it is better than nothing at all; however, this combination has more fibre making it slower to digest. If you are choosing a protein shake or supplement, then the main thing is to determine how you can create these ratios. Perhaps use less protein powder to ensure that your ratios are 3:1 for carbs:protein.

I have worked with people from Learn to Run clinics to marathon runners,athletes all the way to athletes in the NHL and CFL. At every level, the truth remains that if we feed our bodies adequately before and after workouts, we will optimize our outcomes. If this is different than what you are doing now, the question is…are you willing to give it a try? Are you interested in better results? Whether you are new to working out or you have been consistently active for years, I hope that this gives you a way to take your workout results to the next level!

As with all my posts, please let me know if you ever have any questions!

Until next time…..stay healthy!

Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy

There has been incredible retrospective research done to show the impact of nutrition deficits (or excess) during pregnancy. From mental illnesses to chronic diseases…the groundwork is laid for prevention or increased risk as early as the first few weeks of pregnancy (and in some cases even prior to pregnancy). With so much information on the internet about what to do and not to do these days, sometimes it is nice to return to the basics of what a pregnant woman needs and why. Here are a few important tips if you are heading into pregnancy.

NB: These are for a singleton pregnancy. If you are pregnant with multiples, the key nutrients are the same but the amounts needed vary in some cases.

Increased Need for Energy

Energy needs rise as pregnancy progresses.  In the 1st trimester, your energy needs remain the same as they did pre-pregnancy. The important piece here is that you are not restricting calories or “dieting” in any way. Pregnancy is not a time to pursue weight loss.

In second trimester, you will need 370 additional calories and in 3rd trimester you need 450 additional calories from your original baseline needs.

It is best if these needs are met with whole, nutrient dense foods through additional 2-3 healthy snacks or 1 additional meal.

Increased Need for Macronutrients

Carbohydrates – Ideally a minimum intake of 175 grams/day of CHO is consumed.  We all need a minimum of 130 grams of CHO per day to support our brain and central nervous system. In pregnancy this number increases as you are now supporting the brain and central nervous system of a growing fetus. Most pregnant women will need to consume well above 175 grams of CHO per day. This is simply a minimum, not a goal number.

Fiber in a form of CHO that is very important during pregnancy. Constipation is common in 2nd and 3rd trimester as the baby grown and mom’s internal organs are squished. Fiber (along with adequate water) helps with constipation. Choosing whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes as carbohydrate sources regularly is a great way to keep up your fiber intake.

 Protein

The baseline for protein is 0.8 grams/kg body weight per day. You will need 25 additional grams of protein per day on top of this during pregnancy.  Remember that protein supplements can be harmful and may overwhelm the kidneys, so protein-rich foods are best.

Healthy Fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development of the fetus.  Try to consume, almonds, salmon, olive oil, avocado, and other sources of healthy fat on a regular basis.

Micronutrients of Special Interest

Folate and vitamin B12 are needed in large amounts for their role in cell reproduction throughout pregnancy. The early weeks of pregnancy are critical periods for the formation & closure of neural tube (brain & spinal cord); when the neural tube fails to close properly, NTDs (spina bifida & anencephaly) may result. It is recommended that all women of childbearing age take a folic acid supplement of 0.4 mg per day.

Calcium and magnesium are in great demand for normal development of bones & teeth in the growing fetus. In final weeks of pregnancy, more than 300 mg or calcium is transferred to fetus each day. Adequate calcium intake by the mother is crucial during these weeks.

Iron: Absorption of iron by the mother increases 3x during pregnancy.  This is because the fetus draws heavily on its mother’s iron to store a 3-6 month supply for after birth.  A daily iron supplement of 30 mg per day is recommended during 2nd & 3rd trimesters. Iron supplements can be hard on your GI tract and may cause stomach pain and/or constipation. Although it is recommended to take them on an empty stomach, I always found just before bed was best for me as I did not feel the same stomach discomfort when I took it then. And as mentioned above adequate fiber and water can help with constipation.

 Zinc is required for protein synthesis & cell development. Many foods contain zinc so a supplement is generally not warranted as long as the mother eats a varied diet.

If you have any further questions about this or any other topic that you see on my blog at any time, feel free to email me at mealsformeandmyminis@gmail.com.

Until next time….stay healthy!