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Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

If there’s one topic where everyone seems to have a different opinion, it’s around the subject of health. It can be very difficult to get a straight answer on what we should and shouldn’t eat. First, we hear about a study showing something is bad for us. The next day, another study comes back that it’s good for us. It can make it very hard to know truth from trumped up.

The stakes, and often the confusion, are even higher when you become pregnant. The one thing that all studies agree on is: what a woman eats when she’s pregnant is very important for both her health and her baby’s.

So, if you’re pregnant, and are wondering what should you eat or what you should avoid we’ve got you covered. Here are a few things that are universally important for all pregnant women to include in their daily diets.

Water

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    It may seem like common sense, but many people forget how important it is to include water in their diets. In a world that runs on sugary drinks, teas, and coffees we sometimes forget that water is a huge part of our make up. We need to replace it throughout the day to stay healthy.

    If you’re pregnant, getting eight full glasses of water per day is even more crucial for your health. Your body is doing a lot of changing and adapting to grow a new life. Make sure you stay hydrated with pure water.

    If you find pure water too boring, you can also add lemon, lime, fresh cucumber, or fruit into your water to give it an extra kick. Keep a 16-oz water bottle with you to remind yourself to keep drinking. Fill it up at least four times throughout the day.

    Fresh Fruits and Veggies

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      This should come as no surprise to anyone. All studies tell us that getting enough fresh, whole fruits and vegetables in our diet keeps us healthier. Pregnant women should strive to get at least five servings per day from this food-group. Try to get a rainbow of colors on your plate to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals possible.

      Orange Vegetables

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        Make sure to include one serving of an orange vegetable per day within the recommend five overall servings. Some good choices are carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes. The orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in your body.

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        While there are warnings about consuming too much Vitamin A during pregnancy, this is not a concern with beta-carotene. Your body will only convert what you need. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. It helps protect your body against free radicals and ensures your immune system is strong.

        To make sure that you get enough orange veggies, keep a bag of carrots next to you to snack on. You can also cook squash or sweet potatoes in your oven and eat them as a healthy side dish.

        Dark Green Vegetables

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          Out of the five overall fruit and veggie servings, you need to eat at least two servings of dark leafy vegetables per day during your pregnancy. When it comes to greens, the darker the color the better. Some nutritionally dense veggies portraying the darker green color are kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens. These power foods contain calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium, and again beta-carotene — the superstar phytochemical that is vital to your baby’s skin, bones, eyes, and cell growth.

          Try to eat these leafy green veggies both raw and cooked. You can throw all of your greens into a fresh salad and add extra color – or nutrients – by throwing in a rainbow of bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries. You can also sauté these greens lightly for a hearty side dish. Kale also can be dried in the oven to make yummy kale chips – which is a healthier alternative to potato chips.

          Citrus Fruit

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            Make sure to include citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit in your diet. While these fruits provide many important nutrients, the most important one is Vitamin C. This vitamin helps with the immunity of both mom and baby.

            Try to eat at least one serving of citrus fruit per day. You can start your day with a grapefruit or peel an orange as a midday snack. Try to choose the fruit over the juice, as the added fiber will help slow the absorption rate of the fruit sugars into the blood stream and avoid a sugar spike. Gestational diabetes also occurs in about 18% of all pregnancies. For these ladies, it’s crucial to keep their blood sugar stable. The extra fiber found in the fruit also helps with digestion.

            Whole Grains

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              Most dietitians also recommend six servings of enriched whole grains and cereals per day. Make sure you eat whole grains, not refined grains. The nutritional difference is night and day!

              Some good whole grains to work into your diet are oats, whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and rice. These foods contain B vitamins (like B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin), which are necessary for just about every part of your growing baby’s body. They are also packed with iron, selenium, and magnesium. Grains supply energy for your baby’s development. They also contain nutrients that help build the placenta.

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              Most grains also have plenty of fiber. Fiber is your new best friend when you’re pregnant. It helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which can become more common during pregnancy.

              Grains are fairly easy to add into your diet. You can eat a cup of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with fruit. You can add whole-grain pasta to your dinner, or even have a couple slices of whole-grain bread to surround a healthy sandwich full of fresh veggies and avocado for some healthy fats.

              Dairy

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                Many doctors also recommend that pregnant women get at least three servings of dairy products to provide calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein. Your baby needs these nutrients to develop teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, and a healthy heart. They also help your baby’s blood clot.

                Some healthy choices to include in your diet are cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and some grass-fed butter spread on those yummy veggies.

                Protein

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                  Protein is a vital building block for both your body and your baby. Not getting enough protein can contribute to low birth weight. You should aim to get three servings of healthy protein per day.

                  Some great choices are lean meats, eggs, low mercury fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition to protein, fish provides an important Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA. This is crucial for the brain development of your little one.

                  You can eat lean meats in sandwiches or as your main dinner course, along with fish. Eggs can be hard-boiled for easy access later and used in salads or as a quick snack. Legumes are also a great choice in salads and sides. You can eat nuts and seeds as a snack, or enjoy fresh nut butters on whole wheat bread.

                  Supplements

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                    While it’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally in your food, this doesn’t always happen. It’s a good idea to supplement your diet with critical prenatal vitamins such as omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D.

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                    What Foods Should Pregnant Women Avoid?

                    The foods that women should avoid when pregnant are often foods anyone else should also avoid to remain healthy. The stakes are just raised a bit higher when a baby’s development is tied to the mother’s dietary choices.

                    Junk Foods

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                      In general, highly processed junk foods should be avoided. If you can’t identify half of the ingredients on the nutrition label, it’s probably best to leave it alone. You and your baby don’t need all the excess salt, preservatives, and additives. However, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be a fast food. You don’t need that drive-through! After all, it’s just as easy and fast to grab an apple instead of an order of fries.

                      Sugar

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                        You should also watch your intake of sugar, as well as avoid soft drinks and other sweets during pregnancy. Too much sugar in your diet not only puts you at risk for insulin issues and gestational diabetes, it can also cause your immune system to weaken. Sugar actually inhibits phagocytosis, which is the immune system’s response to eliminating germs in the body that can make you sick.

                        Under-cooked Meat

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                          Now is not the time to have a rare steak or a slice of sushi. The bacteria that can sometimes be found in under-cooked meat can cause contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

                          Even though they are cooked, it is also best to avoid deli meats. They can be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you must eat any hot dogs or packaged meats, you should cook them until they are steaming to kill the bacteria.

                          Fish High in Mercury

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                            Unfortunately, our oceans have become polluted. When larger fish ingest smaller fish, this level of pollution becomes much more concentrated within their meat. The biggest concern is the level of mercury found in these fish.

                            The top offenders with higher mercury loads are swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile-fish. Tuna may also be on this list depending on your source. The general rule of thumb is: the smaller the fish, the cleaner the meat.

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                            Unwashed Fruits and Veggies

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                              Make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides. If possible, buy organic to avoid contaminates found on commercially-grown produce.

                              Avoid raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. You can eat them, just cook them thoroughly first to avoid bacteria.

                              Limit Caffeine

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                                Caffeine has been shown to cross the placenta and affect your baby. Some studies suggest that caffeine may play a role in miscarriages; however, this risk is only seen after more than two cups of coffee per day. Many women avoid it all together to stay safe. However, if you just can’t function without that morning cup of coffee, you are probably okay as long as you limit it to 200 milligrams per day.

                                Avoid Alcohol

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                                  This point isn’t really up for much debate. No level of alcohol has been shown to be safe for your baby. Women who drink during pregnancy have higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even moderate drinking can impact your child’s brain development. Finally, too much alcohol during pregnancy results in fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart defects, and mental issues.

                                  Your Choices Matter

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                                    Being pregnant is a very special time in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time where her choices affect the life of another. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a healthy baby is to offer every chance possible to start out well in this life.

                                    In fact, scientists are now studying a mother’s diet during pregnancy and its affect on epigenetics. Recently, an entire new field of nutrigenomics has been created to study the effect of diet on gene expression. While it’s not within the scope of this article, scientists are discovering that the nutrients a baby receives while developing and in early infancy can alter their very DNA structure. This further shows the importance of diet in not only helping to prevent illness, but also in shaping a future life at the cellular level.

                                    With new studies coming out all the time, some things remain constant. Eating fresh, whole foods has worked for centuries. If we continue to eat food found in its natural form, unaltered for the convenience of shelf life, presentation, profitability, sales growth, or higher yield returns, our kids should turn out alright.

                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                    Sarah Hansen

                                    A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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                                    Published on May 24, 2019

                                    How to Raise a Confident Child with Grit

                                    How to Raise a Confident Child with Grit

                                    My husband and I facilitate a couple’s marriage and parenting group. Recently, the group discussed qualities, characteristics, and traits we wanted to see our children develop as they grow up. One term that came up that all parents seemed to upon agree as a highly valued trait was that of grit. The question from our group was:

                                    “Can grit be taught to our children?”

                                    The answer is, yes. Parents can help their child develop grit.

                                    What is grit? Dr. Angela Duckworth is the top researcher on this subject and wrote the book Grit. She defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long term goals”. This new buzz word is popular in the adult realm, but what about our developing children? What if we could help our children develop grit as young children.

                                    Grit is more crucial to success than IQ. Duckworth, through her research at Harvard, found that having grit was a better predictor for an individual’s success than IQ. This means having the smartest kid in the room doesn’t ensure any level of success in their future. They can be brilliant, but if they aren’t properly intrinsically motivated, they won’t be successful.

                                    Grit determines long term success. If a child can’t pick themselves up and try again after a failure, then how are they going to be able to do it as adult?

                                    What a gift it would be to our children to engage them in a manner that helps them recognize their passions, talents, and develop a persevere to purse their goals. Below are some tips on how to raise a confident child with grit.

                                    1. Encouragement is Key

                                    When a child wants to learn how to ride a bike, do they keep going after they fall down or do they quit after the first fall?

                                    If they aren’t encouraged to get up and try again, and instead are coddled and told they can try again some other day, then they are being taught to play it safe.

                                    Safe and coddled don’t exactly go hand-in-hand with building up grit. The child needs to be encouraged to try again. This can be a parent saying “you can do it, I believe in you” and “I know that even if you fall again you will try again and eventually you will get the hang of it”.

                                    Encouragement to keep trying so that they can build up perseverance is very helpful in building a child’s confidence. This confidence is what will help them strike out and try again.

                                    If they feel that they can’t do it or shouldn’t do it, then they won’t. The mind is a powerful thing. If a child believes that they can’t be successful in doing something, then they won’t be successful. Part of building that mentality of believing in themselves comes from encouragement from their parents, care givers, and teachers.

                                    Cheer Them On

                                    How many times have you heard a story of success that someone had in life that all began because someone believed in that person?

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                                    A coach, a mom, a teacher can have a huge impact by believing in the child’s ability to be successful and voicing that encouragement to them. Words are powerful. Use them to build up a child, by telling them that they can do it even if they have try again and again.

                                    Be their support system by being their cheerleader. Cheerleaders don’t just cheer when the team is winning. They cheer words of encouragement to keep the team going.

                                    The same goes with children. We need to cheer for their successes, but also cheer for them to keep going and fighting the fight when life gets tough!

                                    You Can’t Force Them

                                    Keep in mind that you can’t force a child to keep trying. They have to do it themselves.

                                    For example, when my daughter was learning to tie her shoes, it was a real struggle. She gave up. I couldn’t make her want to try to do it again. She had to take a break from the struggle for a few months and then try again.

                                    She was more successful the second time around, because she had matured and her fine motor skills had improved. It would have been ridiculous for me to force her to practice tying her shoes for the three or four months in between, with tears and arguing taking place.

                                    No, instead we took a break. She tried again later. Forcing her to learn something that she wasn’t ready to learn would have pit us against one another. That would have been a poor parenting move.

                                    There are boundaries that parents can set though in some cases. For example, if your child begins an activity and wants to quit mid-season because they are terrible at the sport, you have the opportunity to keep them in the sport through the end of the season to show them that quitting is not an option.

                                    Although they may not win another tennis match the rest of the season or win another swimming race all year long, finishing the commitment is important. It will help with the development of grit by teaching them to persevere through the defeat. It is character building.

                                    If your child is great at all things all the time, they will not develop grit. They need to try things that challenge them. When they aren’t the best at something, or for that matter, the worst, it creates an opportunity for them feel real struggle. Real struggle builds real character.

                                    2. Get Them out of Their Comfort Zone

                                    My daughter wanted to try cheerleading this past fall. She has never done this activity in the past, nor is she particularly coordinated (sorry sweetie). For that matter, she couldn’t even do a cartwheel when cheer season began.

                                    However, we signed up because she was so excited to become a cheerleader. I signed up to coach because there was a need for more cheer coaches. We were all-in at that point.

                                    Once the season began, I quickly realized that cheerleading was far outside my daughter’s comfort zone. The idea of cheerleading was great in her mind. The reality of memorizing cheers and learning physical skills that were hard for her made the experience a struggle. She wanted to quit. I said to her “no, you were the one who wanted to do this, so we finish what we started.” I had to say this more than once. I don’t think anyone on the squad knew this was the case, because she kept at it.

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                                    She kept practicing those cheers every evening. It did not come naturally to her at first, so it was uncomfortable. She always seemed to be half a beat behind the other cheerleaders, which made it very awkward and uncomfortable for her. However, letting her know that quitting mid-season was not an option made her try harder. She wanted to learn the cheers so she wouldn’t stand out on the squad as the girl who didn’t know what she is doing.

                                    By the end of the season, she became a decent cheerleader. Not the best, but she was no longer half a beat behind the rest. She learned skills that were hard for her to conquer. Now that she felt success in achieving something that was uncomfortable and hard for her. She knows she has it in her to do that in other areas of life.

                                    That is why it’s ok for us as parents to let our kids feel the struggle and be uncomfortable. If they don’t experience it when they are young, they will as adults, but they won’t be equipped with the perseverance and inner-strength built from years of working hard through smaller struggles as they grew up.

                                    Allowing our children to struggle helps them build that skill of perseverance, so that they have the grit to achieve hard things in life that they really desire to accomplish.

                                    3. Allow Them To Fail

                                    Your child will fail at things in life. Let them. Do not swoop in and rescue your child from their personal failures. If they don’t fail, then they don’t have the opportunity to pick themselves up and try again.

                                    If I had pulled my daughter from cheerleader once I realized that it was going to be a real struggle, she wouldn’t have experienced failure and struggle. Letting her have this small failure in life taught her lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom. She learned about the power she has within herself to try harder, to practice in order to make change happen, and to push through it even when you feel like giving up because it is embarrassing.

                                    Failure is embarrassing. Learning to handle embarrassment is taking on a fear. When kids learn to do this at a young age, it is practice for adult life. They will experience failure as an adult. They will be better equipped to handle life’s disappointments and failures if they have learned to handle the fear of embarrassment and failure when they are young.

                                    Practice builds up the skill. Processing and handling fear, embarrassment, and failure are skills.

                                    If I had pulled my daughter from cheer and allowed her to quit, I would have taken from her the opportunity to learn how to process and handle the embarrassment and failure she was experiencing at each practice and games. She learned to keep trying and that practicing the skills would lessen the embarrassment and feelings of failure.

                                    Learning the value of practice and how to preserve through the fear and failure are priceless lessons. We may want to rescue our children because we want them to be successful at the things that they do, but how will they be successful in this competitive world as adults if they are provided with only opportunities in which they succeed?

                                    Failure is needed to learn to thrive. Success in adulthood does not come easy to children who are protected from failure because they haven’t built up the ability to persevere.

                                    Perseverance comes when they have learned time and time again how to take the fear of embarrassment and failure head on and practice to get better.

                                    4. Teach Them to Try Again

                                    Encourage your child to try again. Don’t let them quit on the first try.

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                                    Life is hard. If we quit the first time we tried at things, we would never amount to anything in life. We need to teach our children that trying again is simply part of life.

                                    Help them to give it a go by providing encouragement and support. Offer to practice with them, provide them with tutoring or coaching if necessary — whatever it takes to get them back on the proverbial horse and trying again.

                                    Break it Down

                                    Sometimes failure occurs because they are trying something all at one time and they haven’t mastered the smaller components.

                                    For example, a math student isn’t going to jump into calculus as their first high school math course. No, of course not. They build on their skills. They begin with basic math, then algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus to then they get to the calculus level.

                                    If they are thrown into the deep end by taking on calculus before the foundation of their math skills are built, they will fail.

                                    Help your child try again by breaking down what it is they are trying to achieve.

                                    Going back to my cheer example… my daughter was not the best at learning the cheers when we began. It then dawned on me that we needed to break down each cheer phrase by phrase. Once we learned the phrase and movements that went with it, we could then learn the next one. Once these were learned, we could combine the phrases, practice them together, and then try to move to learn the next phrase in the cheer. It was a tedious process, but it worked.

                                    Not all skills come easy for kids. Helping them learn the skill of breaking things down into manageable tasks is another way we teach them about grit. They are learning to build skills by persisting, practicing, and building upon previous experience, knowledge, and skills.

                                    Grit is put into practice in childhood when they learn how to break down large tasks into smaller achievable tasks in order to build toward a greater goal.

                                    5. Let Them Find Their Passion

                                    Your child may be a wonderful pianist. However, if they aren’t passionate about the skill, then they likely won’t be happy or fulfilled in becoming a concert pianist.

                                    It’s great to help your child discover their talents, but also let them discover what they are passionate about in life.

                                    True success will come because they are passionate about the activity, not because they are the best. The best usually become that way because they are passionate first. Therefore, let your child experience a variety of activities and interests so that they can discover what they love to do.

                                    6. Praise Their Efforts, Not the Outcome

                                    Praising their efforts keeps them motivated and trying. If you focus on outcome, then when they fail, they will become defeated and discouraged.

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                                    Focusing on the fact that they tried hard and pointing out specific ways that they did well in terms of effort will support them in trying again. When you make a habit of focusing on outcome, then failures are avoided at all costs, including taking risks.

                                    Risks are needed in order to become successful. Therefore, make a habit of praising their efforts, even when the outcome is not what they had hoped and tried for, because eventually, if they keep trying their efforts will result in success.

                                    7. Be a Model of Grit

                                    If you are a parent or a caregiver for a child, then you are a model to that child. Children naturally look up to the adults in their life that are closest to them, especially their parents. They will look at your ability to persevere and achieve. Your grit will show.

                                    Your children are watching. They may not know the term grit, but they will learn about working hard, not giving up, trying again after failure, and all that grit entails from your actions.

                                    How you handle life is being watched by your children. You can work on your own grit by reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit .

                                    Develop a Growth Mindset

                                    Helping your child develop a growth mindset is also helpful to your child in their development of grit. Dr. Dweck, author of Growth Mindset and researcher at Stanford, developed a theory of fixed versus growth mindset.

                                    Basically, what it means is that if you have a fixed mindset, you will fear failure and easily give up. Someone with a growth mindset believes that their talents, skills, and abilities can be improved with hard work and learning. Parents and caregivers can help with the development of a growth mindset.

                                      Some of the ways that a growth mindset can be developed include:

                                      • Teaching your child how the brain works: neuron connections, right brain versus left brain.
                                      • Teach them to set goals.
                                      • Teach them to have a “can do” attitude.
                                      • Teach them to develop a strategy when they want to achieve something.
                                      • Teach them that mistakes are an opportunity to learn.
                                      • Teach them that failure is a normal part of life.
                                      • Teach them about self talk: Self Talk Determines Your Success

                                      There are a great deal of activities and materials online for helping your child develop a growth mindset including these resources below (each site contains at least some free content):

                                      The Bottom Line

                                      Grit is not just for adults, it is something we can help our children develop. Grit is more critical to success than IQ, so we should be helping our children develop this quality early in life.

                                      As a parent, being a model of grit, is one of the first ways to help our children become “gritty”.

                                      Featured photo credit: Gabriela Braga via unsplash.com

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