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Nutrition

I think this period of pregnancy is a good time to talk about general nutrition, because the most turbulent first trimester is over. Your body is now at a certain level of comfort again and I hope that your mind is more balanced despite the hormones. In this chap-ter, I would like to talk about the basic rules of nutrition as well as prenatal vitamins and weight. There is also the topic of supplementary drinks to support the weakened im-mune system and create resistance against illness.

Stanford University’s Division of Obstetrics states that an additional 300 calories per day are needed to maintain a healthy pregnancy. What’s important here is where and how we get those calories. It’s possible to acquire those extra calories by consum-ing proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals and keeping sweets and fats to a minimum. Following a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy also helps with minimizing certain pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and constipation.

According to the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy lifestyle dur-ing pregnancy consists of the following essential components: Appropriate weight gain, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplements.

We can now take a more detailed look at how we can achieve this balance.

I had been a vegetarian for fifteen years before I became pregnant and started eating fish. I still eat fish twice a week. As I talk about nutrition, I’ll provide examples re-garding all types of diets, because our main focus here is pregnancy. I just wanted to share this information beforehand to avoid sounding hypocritical.

I’ve dedicated a considerable part of my life to understanding bodies, minds, nu-trition, yoga and the environmental factors that affect them. The information I share here is actually the culmination of a general synthesis.

Your body goes through numerous physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The food you consume is the main source of nutrition for your baby, there-fore it is important that the things you eat are high in nutritional value. Eating right supports your baby’s growth and development and keeps you healthy.

Experiencing a healthy pregnancy by adhering to the basic rules of nutrition is not difficult at all. Your body’s nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. Even though urging expectant mothers to “eat for two” is not entirely right, it’s true that you need more micronutrients and macronutrients to support both yourself and your baby. Micronutrients are dietary components that are needed only in small amounts, such as vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients are components that provide calories, meaning energy, and that basically consists of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

The simplest way to make sure that you get all the necessary nutrients is eating different foods from each food group every day. In fact, each meal should include at least three different food groups, for example, beans, rice and salad, or quinoa, hum-mus and avocados with a glass of ayran.

Each food group is beneficial for your body in a specific way

For example:

 Grains are a good source of energy.

 Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, fiber, and water-soluble, fat-soluble vitamins.

 Meat, hazelnut, and legumes provide your body with protein, folic acid and iron.

 Dairy products are a great source of calcium and vitamin D.

The system that is your body can’t function properly unless you get enough of each of these food groups. So, your goal should be eating as diversely as possible dur-ing pregnancy.

Go for the natural and less fatty foods instead of processed junk food. Try to stay away from all packaged foods as they are all full of preservatives. Chips and coke, for example, do not contain any nutrients. Both mothers and babies benefit more from fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and proteins such as legumes or chicken. 

This doesn’t mean that you need to deprive yourself of your favorite foods dur-ing your pregnancy. What you need to do is balance them out with essential, nutrition-al foods, so that you do not miss out on important vitamins and minerals.

By the way, if you are really craving chips, you can satisfy your craving with po-tato chips you can bake at home, that way you can at least be sure that it has no addi-tives and includes healthy fats. 

Let’s take another look at what the essential nutrients are

 Carbohydrates – Bread, rice, bulgur, noodles, pasta, oatmeal, cereals

 Fruits – Fruits should be fresh, juices consisting 100% of fruit also count

 Vegetables – Vegetables can be raw or cooked, 100% vegetables juices are also good

 Foods containing protein – Red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, chickpeas, shell beans, peas, eggs, soy products, hazelnut, seeds and mushroom

 Milk and dairy products – Cheese, yoghurt, ice cream are all included in this group

 Protein is essential for a baby’s development and it helps with the growth of breast and uterus tissues. It also helps increase the blood count and ensures that more blood is sent to your baby. You should consume three servings of pro-tein every day.

Foods rich in protein:

 Legumes

 Mushrooms (Make sure it comes from reliable sources. I consumed both fresh mushrooms and added reishi mushroom powder made by the Australian Super-Feast brand to my supplementary drinks. You can find more information on this below. www.superfeast.com.au.)

 Grains

 Salmon

 Hazelnut

 Peanut butter

 Eggs

 Cottage cheese

 Lean beef and chicken (organic and cage-free)

 Reishi mushroom: Reishi has long been accepted in Taoism* as one of the best and safest herbs to use for transferring a developed immune system to babies both before and during pregnancy. Taoist herbalists would encourage women who wanted to get pregnant to start consuming reishi and continue doing so once the baby was in the womb and until the end of the pregnancy. This gave rise to the phenomenon of “reishi babies,” which referred to babies whose ro-bust and smart immune systems equipped to deal with stress in the world began to develop when babies were still in their mothers’ wombs. You can find out more at the link I’ve shared above.

*Taoism is a philosophical teaching that is believed to have originated in China in 600 BCE. It’s principles were created by founder Lao Tzu. Taoism emphasizes that spiritual freedom is only achievable through establishing cooperation and harmony with nature.

 

 Calcium helps with the development of your baby’s bones and regulates your body’s use of fluids. Pregnant women should consume at least three servings of calcium per day. 

Some foods rich in calcium

 Milk

 Yoghurt

 Cheese

 Soy

 Eggs

 Folic acid, also known as folate

 Folic acid is involved in critical biological processes such as generating blood, creating new cells and DNA synthesis. Folic acid supplements recommended to be taken during and even before pregnancy, helps with having a healthy pregnancy and preventing any possible problems with the development of the baby.

 Hazelnut

 Beans and lentils

 Eggs

 Hazelnut butter and peanut butter

 Vegetables with dark green leaves

 Liver

 Iron works with sodium, potassium and water to increase blood flow, which en-sures that both you and your baby get enough oxygen.

Foods rich in iron

 Vegetables with dark green leaves

 Citrus fruits

 Enriched whole breads or grains

 Eggs (from organically-fed and cage-free chickens)

 Lean beef and poultry (organically-fed and cage-free)

 Dried fruits

In addition to eating well, it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and take prenatal vitamins. We can’t get enough of certain nutrients such as folic acid and iron only from the foods we consume, so we need to supplement them. As I’ve said before, you should talk to your doctor about which prenatal vitamins you need to take to ensure that both you and your baby are healthy.

During pregnancy, many women develop sensitivity towards certain foods to the point they can’t even stand the smell of them let alone eat them. I, for example, was completely disgusted by parsley, so much so that it made me nauseous to even think about it. It’s also common to crave a specific food and want to eat it all day every day. I craved sour foods the most. I remember going from Zekeriyaköy to a pickle store all the way in Cihangir, just to get some pickles. Although it is not entirely clear what these pregnancy cravings are caused by, they are thought to be related to hormonal chang-es.

Even though it’s not feasible to talk about every special issue here, I would like to briefly touch on pica, because it seems like a good place to mention it. Pica is a dis-order that creates an appetite for substances that are non-nutritive. Pregnant women who suffer from pica might want to consume strange substances such as clay, ciga-rette ashes or starch. Pica may point to a certain vitamin or mineral deficiency in the body and those who display symptoms should consult a doctor.

Any talk about nutrition inevitably leads to the topic of weight gain during preg-nancy. Many women worry about gaining too much weight during their pregnancies and not being able to get their bodies back. It is absolutely normal to gain a certain amount of weight while you’re pregnant and it should not be a cause for concern. Women gain about 11-17 kgs (or much more) during pregnancy. As I’ve already men-tioned, this also depends on genetics and the person’s general physical condition. You can consult your doctor about appropriate weight gain during pregnancy.

Instead of focusing on your weight, you should focus on eating a variety of nu-tritious foods. Eating healthy is extremely important during pregnancy and dieting to lose weight or prevent weight gain could harm you and your baby. Maintaining a level of physical activity, on the other hand, can help you manage your weight. Swimming, dancing and walking are all great options and yoga is quite helpful. You’ll find a chap-ter about pregnancy yoga further ahead in the book. In terms of activities, you should steer clear of any extreme sports or hard contact sports such as rock climbing and bas-ketball. If you didn’t exercise or do yoga before your pregnancy, start slow (after the first trimester) and don’t overdo it. Drinking lots of water is also important. You can always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. 

Consume these

 At least three servings of protein per day

 Six or more servings of whole grains per day

 Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day

 Three or more servings of dairy products per day

 Essential fats (Although not a food group, fats are an important source of nutri-tion. Fats you consume during pregnancy provide you with energy, as well as support your internal organs and the placenta. Most of the fats in your diet should be plant-based. Solid fats that are sourced from animals should be con-sumed in moderation.)

 Prenatal vitamins (as prescribed by your doctor)

Avoid these

 Alcohol, tobacco

 Too much caffeine

 Raw meat, eggs or seafood

 Fish rich in mercury

 Uncooked or processed meats

 Unpasteurized milk)

Essential fatty acids found in fish oil are important for the development of the baby’s brain, but some fish can contain high amounts of mercury which is harmful for the birth. The types of fish that are “safer” to consume during pregnancy are: fresh ancho-vy, horse mackerel, bonito and mackerel, which live and feed close to the surface and those that are caught in oceans and streams, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, white fish, trout.

I hope you are okay with leaving behind all alcohol and tobacco products be-hind you during pregnancy. Even though doctors nowadays allow a small glass of red wine per week, it might be a good idea to save that for very special occasions. If you are a heavy smoker, you should gradually cut down on your smoking in the first trimester without stressing yourself out and aim to quit completely after that. If you are not ad-dicted to nicotine, you should quit right away. The subject of smoking is no joke, as it has been proven to seriously intervene with your baby’s development and cause prob-lems during and after birth.

There are many studies conducted on coffee consumption during pregnancy but it is still unclear whether or not drinking coffee increases the risk of miscarriage. Although it is generally considered safe to drink a cup of coffee per day during preg-nancy, I haven’t had any during mine.

While I was pregnant, the thought that motivated me when I found it challenging to maintain my self-control, was that any restrictions were only temporary. The frustra-tions of being limited can be relieved by trying to think in that way. You can distance yourself from bodily desires by reminding yourself that you are on a holy mission and that you are contributing to the creation of a new being in the flow of life. You can also utilize breathing exercises and practice positive affirmations. 

Supplementary Drinks

One of the things that really surprised me about pregnancy was that the natural barri-ers of my immune system were lowered and I began to catch colds more easily. As it turns out, our bodies actually lower their safety shields a little bit in order to avoid treat-ing the baby like a foreign object. Consequently, we become more susceptible to virus-es. I remember thinking, “We are going through so many changes and also getting weakened on top of all that, so not fair.”

DON’T EVER TRY TO DO A FRUIT/VEGETABLE JUICE CLEANSE WHILE YOU’RE PREGNANT

I was intent on not using any medication during my pregnancy, so catching a cold was not fun. I decided to keep my strength up to avoid that. I prepared and drank nutritious supplementary drinks every morning. Whenever I felt a cold coming on I consumed lots of drinks with vitamin C, maca root powder, raw cacao, black sesame seeds, molasses, carob powder and quickly got my strength back and dodged any sickness.

Here are some things you should keep in mind about supplementary drinks to be con-sumed during pregnancy:

 Try to consume only organic fruits and vegetables.

 Fruits and vegetables should be washed well or kept in vinegar water for 10-15 minutes and then rinsed before consuming. You can also use a brush to clean the skins of vegetables and fruits.

 Mix together a maximum of three different fruits at a time. Acids in different fruits do not blend together thus making it easier to digest them. Of course, there is no harm in adding more fruit if you want to…

 You should consume the drink as soon as it is prepared. If you wait before drink-ing them, they could produce bacteria and lose the vitamins.

 You can add any spices, herbs, roots and superfoods that you want or feel the need for to your supplementary drink and in this way consume all the nutrients you require in one drink.

 Don’t think of supplementary drinks as a meal. I, for example, preferred having my drinks after waking up in the morning or as a refreshment in the afternoon.

 Don’t drink the boxed juices sold at grocery stores.

  Use a slow juicer if you have one. (Slow juicers preserve the vitamins in fruits and vegetables as they are squeezed slowly using a special technology. But that’s an expensive gadget and don’t worry if you don’t have one at hand. I don’t have one either, so I just use a regular blender and a juicer together.)

 As I have said, it’s important that you consume a variety of nutrients (proteins, folic acids, omega 3s, magnesium, lots of vitamins and more) when you are pregnant. Green smoothies contribute to your wellness and your baby’s growth as well as being a great addition to the aforementioned variety.

  It is recommended to eat 4-6 small meals per day (instead of the traditional 3) during pregnancy, so go ahead and opt for a green smoothie for one of those meals. I drank them first thing in the morning before breakfast and in the after-noon to increase my energy.

Print out a list of nutrients called superfoods, hang it in your kitchen and con-sume a little bit of those foods each day by mixing them with fruits and vegetables (don’t try to consume all of them all together, I’ll share a few recipes to give you a little inspiration).

Essential nutrients for supplementary drinks

Folic Acid

Getting a good dose of folic acid is important for cell generation especially in the first month of pregnancy.

Leafy greens (particularly spinach and certain greens), strawberries and beets are nat-urally rich in folic acid in the form of folate.

Calcium

Calcium helps with the development of healthy bones and a strong heart, both of which your baby really needs! You can aim to get your calcium from dairy products.

Leafy greens, almonds/almond milk, sesame seeds and flax seeds are also rich in cal-cium.

Fiber

Daily consumption of fiber regulates digestion and lowers blood pressure during preg-nancy. Fiber is good for your baby and even better for you! 

Leafy greens (turnip and mustard leaves in particular), raspberries, cinnamon, pears, flax seeds, beets, carrots, oranges and strawberries are all fiber-rich foods.

Iron

Iron is one of the most important components of keeping your blood healthy and strengthening your immune system, both of which are critical during pregnancy.

Leafy greens (especially spinach and chard) are the best sources of iron.

Protein

Protein is essential to the forming of your baby’s body and the baby grows a lot in the second and third trimesters. Leafy greens (spinach and mustard leaves in particular), almonds/almond milk, hemp protein powder (doesn’t have the same effect as hemp) are good sources of protein.

Omega 3

Our brains are very sensitive and should be cared for, but healthy development of the brain in the womb is especially important. Consuming Omega 3 is one of the best ways of supporting your baby’s brain.

This nutrient can be found in other sources besides fish and incorporated into snacks, such as chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.

Magnesium

Magnesium is necessary for tissue growth and repair. The tissues in your body work overtime during pregnancy and need to be supported very well.

Leafy greens (spinach and chard in particular) and coconut water are rich in magnesi-um.

Potassium

Potassium plays several important roles in our bodies: Preserves the balance of elec-trolytes, sends out nerve stimulants, helps muscles contract and helps our bodies make use of the potential energy coming from fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Leafy greens (spinach and chard in particular), beets, carrots, bananas, avocados and coconut water all contain a lot of potassium.

Vitamin B6

Many types of B vitamins are beneficial during pregnancy but B6 is the most important one. The two most significant things it does for your baby is create new red blood cells and antibodies and contribute to healthy brain development. 

Leafy greens (spinach and turnip leaves in particular), bananas, avocados, pineapples and cantaloupes are rich in vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6

Many types of B vitamins are beneficial during pregnancy but B6 is the most important one. The two most significant things it does for your baby is create new red blood cells and antibodies and contribute to healthy brain development. 

Leafy greens (spinach and turnip leaves in particular), bananas, avocados, pineapples and cantaloupes are rich in vitamin B6.

Ingredients to avoid adding to supplementary drinks during pregnancy:

Too Many Herbs

Coriander is a heavy metal cleanser. Parsley can cause pregnancy issues. You don’t have to stay away from all herbs, just don’t base your diet around them.

Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables

As I have already mentioned, fruits and vegetables can have harmful pesticides and chemicals on them

Too Much Caffeine

This isn’t an issue you’ll encounter with green smoothies in general, but if you decide to use green tea as your base, make sure to do so in moderation. And obviously don’t even think about adding coffee to your drinks

Note: Don’t ever try to do a fruit/vegetable juice cleanse while you’re pregnant! Detox programs should not be followed during pregnancy and nursing as it can negatively affect the baby’s development. Do your best to eat a healthy, balanced, diverse diet with small portions.

RECIPES FOR SUPPLEMENTARY DRINKS

Ingredients

 2 cups fresh spinach

 2 cups coconut water, water, or homemade stewed fruit juice 

 1 banana

 1 cup pineapples

 1 carrot (uncooked)

 1 tablespoon chia seeds

 ½ teaspoon reishi mushroom powder.

Combine spinach and coconut water. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. If it looks a little too thick, you can add water and blend until the consistency is to your liking. In order to make a cold smoothie, you can use one of these fruits in fro-zen form.

Ingredients

 2 medium, ripe bananas

 250 ml coconut milk 

 Cinnamon powder

Blend the bananas and coconut milk until smooth. Pour the mixture in a cup, sprinkle some cinnamon on top and enjoy. The high amount of potassium in bananas are great for fending off high blood pressure during pregnancy. Bananas also contain trypto-phan, which turns into serotonin in your body and boosts morale.

Ingredients

 2 cups chard

 2 cups almond milk (sugar free, preferably homemade)

 1 banana

 1 cup blueberries, raspberries or sour cherries (can be used frozen)

 1 small cup strawberries

 1-2 tablespoons flax seeds

 ½ teaspoon black sesame seeds

 ½ tea cup molasses

 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds

Combine the chard and almond milk together. Add the other ingredients and blend un-til smooth. You can use one of the fruits frozen in order to make the smoothie cold.

Ingredients

 2 carrots, shaved or cleaned

 1 beet, shaved

 1 orange, peeled

Put all the ingredients in the juicer and blend.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

 1 unit grape juice 

 Sliced watermelon

 ½ lemon juice 

 Ice chips

 Water

Blend the watermelon slices, grape juice and lemon juice. Pour the fruit juice and add water. You can also add some ice and serve with a slice of lemon like a cocktail.

Ingredients

 1 cup spinach or chard 

 Fruits; 150 gr fruits such as mango, banana, peach, apricot, cantaloupe or kiwi

 250 ml yogurt 

 250 ml juice; orange, apple, pineapple, tangerine depending on your preference 

 25 gr ground almonds

 1 tablespoon honey or molasses

 1 tablespoon flax seeds 

If you’d like the drink to be thicker you can add some oatmeal, in which case you should increase the amount of juice.

Combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Ingredients

 1 small cup mango, cubed

 ½ small cup yogurt

 1 cup coconut milk

 ½ banana

Balance the thickness of the drink with freshly squeezed orange juice or water. 

Blend the mango, yogurt, coconut milk, ice and lemon juice until smooth. Add orange juice slowly to taste. If you’d like the drink to be thinner, add more juice or cold water. Mix with ice chips and serve.

Ingredients

 1 apple, peeled and sliced

 1 pear, peeled and sliced

 1 ½ cup apple juice

 2 cups spinach

 ½ cucumber

 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

 1 teaspoon alfalfa seeds 

 1 teaspoon flax seeds

 

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. This recipe will yield enough for two big cups, so you can share the drink with a loved one. If you’d like the drink to be thinner, add water or apple juice and ice.

“GETTING ENOUGH NUTRIENTS IS IMPORTANT FOR THE HEALTH OF BOTH THE MOTHER AND THE BABY DURING PREGNANCY.”

Instructor

Burcu Kutluk

Instructor

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