Megan-11webFollowing an organic, healthy, whole foods diet is the best way to be sure that you are maintaining good energy levels and staying healthy throughout your life. When you are pregnant, it is even more critical that good food choices are made every day. A healthy pregnancy diet can affect many aspects of your pregnancy, for instance, it can help you to lower the risk of dangerous health conditions such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Additionally, sticking to a healthy pregnancy diet will keep your body in good shape, which can help to make your labor easier and ensure that your baby comes out healthy and well.

A healthy diet for pregnancy is more than simply avoiding a few specific foods, because a woman needs to be sure that she is getting sufficient amounts fo nutrition from the food that is consumed. As you start to focus on getting sufficient amounts of produce, proteins, and healthy fats, it’s also important to avoid several types of food. The three categories of foods that should be avoided during pregnancy are: hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, processed sugars, and any type of commercially processed food. If these foods are consumed, they add no nutritional value to your diet which can negatively affect your health and the health of your baby!

Unhealthy, Commercially Produced Foods

Commercially processed foods are readily available anywhere we look, but there are specific reasons why these should be avoided. So start out, the products are created with unfermented white flour, which has been stripped of all the nutritional benefits and it is also very difficult for the human body to digest properly. Examples of these types of foods include anything that comes pre-packaged, such as sugary cereal, soft drinks, candy, dinner-in-a-box pastas, crackers, cookies and cakes. In addition the to nutrient-less white flour, they are also terrible because of the additives and preservatives that are present… they often include ingredients such as hidden sugars, MSG, or any number of chemicals which have not been tested for safety.

Some of the packages foods are marketed in a way that makes you believe that they are healthy, but a quick glance at the ingredient list will show you that they are full of unhealthy ingredients. Anything that is an additive, preservative, chemical, or non-food item should be avoided, they are not safe for you or your baby!

Don’t rely on these processed, packaged foods, because it is much better to get your nutrition from whole food recipes that can be prepared at home. It takes a little more work, but allows you to control the ingredients that are being consumed, and you are able to hand-pick the freshest ingredients with high nutritional value. The extra effort is definitely worth your time, because the results of a healthy diet are amazing!

Refined Sugars in All Forms

It’s not necessarily bad to avoid all sweeteners, but you should avoid any product that contains sugars which have been refined. Some women find that during pregnancy they experience food cravings more frequently, and swwet treats should include natural, unrefined sweeteners. When refined, processed sugars are consumed they negatively affect your blood sugar, and after the blood sugar skyrockets you will experience a drop in energy because the blood sugar levels will crash after such a high spike. These fluctuating blood sugar levels can throw off the balance of the ratio of phosphorus to calcium in your blood (which is dangerous for long-term health), and they will cause you to experience a decrease in energy levels.

The problem is that, nearly all packaged foods contain refined sugars and the labels can be deceptive because there are number of named for processed sugar. A few to watch out for include: high fructose corn syrup, white can sugar, agave nectar, and polyol sweeteners.

There are a few healthy sweeteners that can be used instead, including: rapa dura (100% cane juice from organic sugar), pure maple syrup, and raw honey. Of course, any type of sweetener should be used in moderation, any you may need to ease yourself into it by slowly decreasing that amount of sweetener you are using each day. With time, your palate will naturally acclimate to a healthier, whole foods diet, and the natural flavors of the food will be more noticeable because your taste buds won’t be tainted by all of the sugar.

Unhealthy Fats and Certain Oils

Healthy fats are especially important during pregnancy, because the body can use those fats to provide energy to you and your growing baby. However, if you are consuming foods with unhealthy fat sources such as partially or fully hydrogenated oils, then negative health problems may occur. Watch for these hydrogenated oils, they are often used in processed foods and restaurant foods. Also, a healthy pregnancy diet should not involve cooking with these oils at home.

Another type of fat to avoid is polyunsaturated oil for cooking with high-heat. Using these oils to cook can be dangerous because the high heat exposure causes the oil (specfically the linoleic acid) to break down and releases free radicals in the body. The presence of free radicals is dangerous for health, because it leads to many types of diseases including cancer formation and heart diseases. If you are using vegetable based oils like olive oil or avocado oil, include them in low-heat or no-heat recipes. If higher heat levels are needed for cooking, then saturated oils (like animal fats) should be used.

By avoiding these things during pregnancy and focusing your eating around organic, whole foods you will have a much healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby. Foods that should be eaten include dairy products, meats, fruits, vegetables, fruits, and fermented or sprouted grains. If you’re interested in reading more about an ideal pregnancy diet the ways this diet can positively affect your pregnancy, check out the book Healing Our Children. The excellent book contains details about positive dietary changes which should be made during pre-conception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding!

Photo Credit: tommo4074 from Flickr