You likely know that nutrition is important for your kids, but what’s equally important is to focus on nutrition before you have a baby to think about.
“Lots of cravings come up during pregnancy, and a lot of those cravings have to do with fluctuating levels of hormones,” says Laine Jacob-Banner, a mom of two boys who has worked for Natural Grocers for more than 10 years. “The first thing you can do to support healthy hormone levels is to really eat a good, balanced diet to begin with—so that means emphasizing vegetables, making sure you’re getting protein at every meal, making sure that you’ve got sources of healthy fat in every meal, and then eating carbohydrates as your body craves them.”
She also suggests that when certain cravings hit, expectant mommies might look a little deeper to find the source of their craving—and learn how to remedy it.
“During pregnancy, that might just mean your blood volume is increasing and you actually need some salty food!” Laine suggests keeping sea salt and a bottle of Trace Mineral drops on hand. You can also make a homemade electrolyte drink by adding a couple pinches of sea salt to some fruit juice.
Growing a whole new human being takes a lot of energy, but sugar is mainly empty calories—so Laine suggests trying fruit, protein, or fat first. “You’re going to get some fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients,” she says of fruit; and of protein and fat, “those are going to be a longer-lasting energy source than the sugar.” Her go-to’s? Nut butter, beef jerky, hardboiled eggs, or a homemade smoothie made with a frozen banana, frozen berries, cocoa powder, and coconut milk.
“Chocolate is a source of magnesium and phytonutrients, so…a little bit is probably fine.” Other foods high in magnesium that Laine recommends are pumpkin seeds, spinach, quinoa, and cashews.
“Usually they’re very high in processed carbohydrates and may also contain some really unhealthy fats, so the goal with that would be to eat them in balance with other nutrients,” says Laine. As an alternative to potato chips, she suggests roasted nuts, organic popcorn, or raw veggies like cucumber, carrots, and celery. “Celery is one of my favorite foods—it’s so versatile. Kids enjoy it. It’s very low calorie. It has a lot of minerals in it.”
>> Fried Foods
“I think that fried foods are something that anyone can crave at any time in life,” Laine says, but it might indicate a pregnant woman needs more healthy fats. “When you’re growing a whole other human being, you’re growing a lot of cells, and all of those cells require significant amounts of fat.” She recommends avocado; when she was pregnant, she would dip bacon in guacamole. “It’s getting the crunchy, the salty, and the healthy fats.”
“We’ve all heard of the pickle craving! In Chinese medicine, they say that sour and bitter tastes stimulate the liver,” she says. “So there’s really nothing wrong with craving pickles, or any other tangy, sour foods, when you’re pregnant. You just want to make sure that they don’t become the majority of your diet.” Mixing lemon juice and water might also nix that craving.
By Erica Tasto