Taking care of yourself with a healthy pregnancy diet and exercise routine is an important part of a healthy pregnancy overall. These tips can help you plan a balanced diet, exercise routine, and more.
Eat a Balanced Diet
While it’s normal to have crazy cravings while you’re pregnant, it’s also important to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Together, you and your baby have different nutritional needs than you do separately.
It’s less like eating for 2, and more like eating for yourself and 1/8. You’ll need to get around an extra 300 calories a day. For example, if you’d normally drink a 10-oz. glass of juice, now you should drink an 11- or 12-oz. glass.
Most pregnant women need about:
- 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
- 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester
- 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester
You should also be careful when eating out because you’ll be more susceptible to foodborne illness while you’re pregnant.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin
Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken early in your pregnancy.
Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day during early pregnancy as part of a healthy diet. Avoid any supplements that give you more than 100% of the daily value for any vitamin or mineral.
While you may not always feel like it, moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day during pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby. It helps you prepare your body for labor, and it will help you feel better before and after birth.
Safe Exercises to Try
- Riding a stationary bike
- Water aerobics
Activities to Avoid
- Too much up and down movement
- Exercise that could make you lose your balance
- Laying flat on your back after the first trimester
- Anything where you could get hit in the stomach
- Sitting in saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms
Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine, drink plenty of water, don’t get overheated, and be sure to listen to your body.
It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, so we have some recipes to try to work into your kids’ diets that are good for their teeth.
Cheese has been found to raise the PH in your mouth, which lowers risk of tooth decay.
For your adventurous eaters, try this healthy Cheesy Turkey Stuffed Peppers.
Image and Recipe via Cookie Named Desire
Yogurt’s probiotics are good for your gums. Try these 7 Healthy Fro-Yo Recipes.
Image and Recipes via Greatist
Leafy greens are high in calcium and vitamins for your teeth. Sneak them in with 20 Healthy Green Smoothie Recipes.
Image and Recipe via Yummy Healthy Easy
Apples help you produce saliva that rinses out your mouth and is good for your gums.
Try Apple Pie in a Jar for a fun new way to get your kids to eat their apple a day.
Image and Recipe via Vie de la Vegan
Carrots can help lower your risk of cavities and are a great source of fiber and vitamin A.
If your kids love pasta, this Raw Carrot Pasta with Peanut Sauce is a great way to get their veggies.
Image and Recipe via Betsy Life
Celery has great vitamins that are good for gums, and it acts like a toothbrush scraping out food and bacteria.
The apples in this Celery Root and Apple Salad can help convince your kids to get their veggies in.
Image and Recipe via Gourmande in the Kitchen
Almonds are a great source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar.
These Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Almond Clusters taste like candy and are good for your teeth.
Image and Recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction
You’ve probably heard in the news that processed foods are bad for you. They’re frequently blamed for high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes in America.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. Not all processed foods are bad for you, and it’s important to know which ones you need, which ones can help you save, and which ones to avoid.
What Is Processed Food?
There is a whole range of processed food, and the more processed it is, the less likely it is to be good for you.
Barely processed foods are things that you can find at the store that have been prepped for you for your convenience. These include:
- Washed and bagged lettuce and spinach
- Precut or chopped fruit or veggies
- Roasted nuts
Foods processed at their peak lock in and preserve nutrition, quality, and freshness. These include:
- Canned tomatoes
- Frozen fruit and vegetables
- Canned tuna
Foods with added ingredients may have better flavor and texture, but they can also be worse for you. While these ingredients help preserve quality, they can also have higher sugar, fat, and unnatural additives. These frequently include sweeteners, spices, oils, colors, and preservatives. Foods with added ingredients include:
- Jarred pasta sauce
- Salad dressing
- Cake mixes
Ready-to-eat foods are usually heavily processed with lots of added ingredients. These include:
- Granola bars
- Prepackaged deli meat
Frozen and premade meals are usually the most heavily processed with lots of added ingredients, including salt and preservatives to make them last. These include:
- Frozen pizza
- Frozen meals
- Microwaveable dinners
Positives of Processed Foods
As you can see, some processed foods are good for you. Fresh fruits and veggies that have just been chopped and washed before being packaged really just save you time. (Although you usually have to pay more for that time savings.)
Foods processed at their peak are a great way to save, with the same nutrition at a lower price than fresh.
And some foods with added ingredients are actually better for you. Many kinds of milk and juice have more calcium and vitamin D added in. Some breakfast cereals have added fiber.
Problems with Processed Foods
The 3 biggest problems with processed foods are added sugars, salt, and fat.
Sugars aren’t just in candy and prepackaged desserts. They’re added in all kinds of foods, and you may not even know it.
- Breads can have added sugars to give them a nice brown color.
- Canned pasta sauce generally has a surprising amount of added sugar.
- Many cereals are heavily sweetened.
- Fruit canned in syrup is filled with sugar.
Salting your food isn’t to blame for high levels of sodium in your diet. 3/4 of the salt you take in comes from processed food.
- Most canned vegetables, soups, sauces, and beans have added sodium to improve the taste and texture and to help preserve them on the shelf.
- Premade meals and snacks are full of extra salt to make them taste better and preserve them.
Added fats make food shelf-stable and tastier. But trans fats in processed foods can raise your bad cholesterol.
Many products with added fats have really small serving sizes, and if you eat more than that, you’re eating a lot of trans fat in one sitting.
For instance, a serving size of Oreos is just 3 cookies, and those 3 cookies have 7 grams of fat, which is 11% of your recommended daily total of fat. Do you actually eat just 3 Oreos in a sitting? Just doubling to 6 cookies puts you over 20% of your daily fat total!
Smart Processed Foods Choices
Now that you know the basics, how can you pick out processed foods that are good for you?
- Look for fortified milk and juice, which have added calcium and vitamins.
- Avoid things like white bread, which are so refined that most of the healthy fiber has been removed in the processing. Look for whole grain breads, tortillas, and pastas instead.
- Buy canned fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice. Avoid fruit packed in syrup and fruit juice concentrate, which have added sugar.
- Even if a product says it’s organic or all-natural, it can still have added sugar. Too much cane sugar and honey can be just as bad for you as too much corn syrup.
- Carbohydrates on the nutrition label include naturally occurring sugars, like in yogurt and fruit. Instead, look at the ingredients list to see if sugar has been added. Look for:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Cane sugar
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Check things you might not think you need to for sugar, like cereals, even plain kinds, and pasta sauce.
- Look for reduced or low sodium on things like canned vegetables, soups, and beans. You can always add a little bit of salt when you’re cooking if you need it.
- Always rinse canned beans and vegetables, which can lower the salt content by 40%.
- Even if a product says it has zero trans fat, check the ingredients. If it has any hydrogenated vegetable oils, then it’s going to have some trans fat.
And most importantly, just try to eat heavily processed foods in moderation and make the most of healthier processed foods in a balance with fresh foods.
Making sense of food labels is easy with our handy guide.
Make the most of your next grocery shopping trip to boost your diet and make healthy choices.
While you’re shopping, understanding the nutrition labels on food can help you make smart choices for your family. We can help you make the most of them.
New Food Label for a New Era
Image via the FDA
When you see them side by side, you can see that the new label calls out the actual serving size and calories per serving much bigger. At the store, this can quickly help you see how good for you something is in terms of calories, and how much bang for your buck you’re getting in what you buy.
Image via the FDA
It also calls out added sugars, which are sugars (like sugar, honey, or corn syrup) that are added to packaged food. Fresh fruit has natural sugars, so juices don’t list the sugar that’s naturally occurring from the fruit as added sugar.
And now it calls out the exact amount of nutrients, like vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
The FDA’s new labels have also changed serving sizes to better show how much people actually eat of certain foods:
Image via the FDA
While a half a cup of ice cream used to be the recommended serving size, most people are scooping out closer to a cup, so the FDA wanted to make sure you know how many calories you’re actually eating in that bowl of ice cream.
Making the Most of Food Labels
1. Serving Size
It will tell you the total number of servings in the package, and the new serving size, which better shows how much of it you actually eat.
These serving sizes are standard, so it’s easier for you to compare the calories and nutrients in similar foods to find the healthiest brand for you. Serving sizes also come in measurements you know, like cups, followed by grams.
Many people eat more calories than they need to, so keeping track of how many you eat can help you with your weight. Most people should eat around 2,000 calories per day.
When you’re looking at the calories, if you’re eating around 2,000 calories a day, then 40 calories is low for a serving, 100 calories is in the middle, and 400 or more calories is high. In fact, you should shoot for whole meals to be around 400 calories.
3. Nutrients to Limit
Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, or sugar can raise your risk of certain diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The bold headlines are most helpful for you when you’re shopping, so you can quickly see how much of these is in something, while the subheads, like saturated and trans fat, can help you focus on a nutrient you’re interested in.
The percentages along the side tell you how much of your 2,000 calorie diet this food takes up. So in this image, the total fat in this food takes up 10% of all the fat you should eat in a whole day.
Dietary fiber and protein that are mixed into this list are good for you and important to keep an eye on. Fiber can help you better process food and reduce the risk of heart disease, and protein can help you stay full longer and is important if you’re trying to build muscle.
4. Nutrients You Need
These are nutrients that can help you improve your health and help lower the risk of some diseases. For example, calcium and vitamin D can help you build strong bones and lower your risk of getting osteoporosis later in life, and potassium can help lower your blood pressure.
Now that you know what the different sections of the Nutrition Facts label are telling you, it will be easy to look for food with good calorie counts, limited salt, fat, and sugar, and plenty of healthy nutrients, like calcium.
Why shop organic? Our Organic 101 guide makes it easy!
Make sense of expiration dates while you’re shopping to make the most of your groceries.
June is Dairy Month. Do you know why you should be getting dairy in your diet?
Calcium in dairy helps build your bones and teeth and prevent breaks.
Dairy is especially important for kids. It helps build bone mass while they’re young.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Dairy, especially yogurt and milk, is rich in potassium, which helps with your blood pressure.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.
The vitamin D in dairy helps your body maintain calcium and protect your bones.
A diet with dairy in it also helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
National Nutrition Month has been going on all March long. And while it would be great for everyone to commit to a healthy diet, it’s harder for some people to bounce back from bad food choices than it is for others.
For older adults, those sugary and salty snacks can add up to a problem quickly. But you can help certain problems that get worse with age by making smart food decisions when you’re young and even when you’re older.
Eating better can make a huge difference in your overall health. Studies show a healthy diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Here are some things for older adults and their caregivers to keep in mind.
1. Choose healthy foods that help you eat a balanced diet, and always drink plenty of water. Foods and drinks with empty calories, like soda and chips, don’t do you any favors nutritionally and don’t help you feel full.
2. Your food choices affect your entire body. Choosing whole grains, fiber, fruits, and vegetables and drinking plenty of water can help you stay regular and keep good digestive health.
3. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure you check with your doctor about foods you should include, like foods high in calcium, or things you should avoid, like those high in salt.
4. Don’t let your teeth or dentures stand in the way of eating meat, fruits, or vegetables. Visit your dentist to check for problems or adjust the fit of your dentures so mealtime is easier.
5. If you feel like food is getting stuck in your throat, you may not have enough spit in your mouth. Drink plenty of liquids when you eat for help swallowing, and talk to your doctor to see if a condition or medicine you’re on could be causing your dry mouth.
6. Make cooking and eating fun. Invite friends for a potluck where you each make and bring one part of the meal. Try cooking a new recipe with a friend or stage a cook-off to see who makes the better dish. Plan a date with your loved one where you cook a meal together. Have dinner at a senior center, community center, or religious organization for an affordable way to meet new people.