Most of us are creatures of habit, piling the same foods into our grocery carts each week. But pregnancy, with its increased nutritional requirements and wacky cravings and aversions, may require venturing into new nutritional territory.
It's a conundrum: You know seafood is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Rich in protein and other essential nutrients, swimming with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats, these watery wonders have likely been a part of your weekly—if not daily—diet for years. But now that you're pregnant, you're being pummeled with news that fish may not be so healthy after all. What gives?
Where Folate Flourishes
Start your shopping trip in the fresh-produce department, where finding nutrient-dense foods is a no-brainer. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps manufacture and maintain new cells and is especially vital for the rapid cell division that takes place during pregnancy. Deficiencies can contribute to serious birth defects of the spine and brain (aka neural tube defects such as spina bifida).
Part of putting your Supermarket Smarts to work is to make informed choices when eating fish and seafood during pregnancy. Although you should limit or avoid eating certain types of fish during pregnancy, there are still plenty of healthful options in the seafood department. There you can find lean sources of protein and healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
YES, says obstetrician-gynecologist Karen Filkins, M.D., a fellow of the American College of Medical Geneticists and member of the Teratology Society.
Canned tuna is a higher-risk fish, but it's safe to eat as long as it is not your main source of food and is consumed in limited quantities. The risk of mercury is cumulative, so an occasional serving of tuna is not going to harm your baby.
Oatmeal with Apricots, Cinnamon and Flaxseed: In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup low-fat (1%) milk, 1/4 cup diced dried apricots, 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes until liquid is absorbed, or simmer in a saucepan for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
1 cup cubed papaya
Even if you typically eat a fairly healthful diet, pregnancy requires some adjustments. You need extra nutrients to keep up with the demands of your changing body and growing baby, and you should avoid certain foods altogether. This doesn't mean you must follow a stringent regimen--or deny yourself--but it does mean giving a little extra thought to your food choices.