Pregnancy: Eating Healthy on a Budget

It’s important to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy. Your body requires lots of extra vitamins and nutrients to nourish your growing baby. Eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy can help to give your baby the best start in life. If you are on a tight budget, you may worry that a healthy diet is out of your grasp. By following these simple tips, you can make sure your developing baby is getting all the goodness he needs without breaking the bank:

1. Plan your meals – if you buy a bucket load of fresh fruit and vegetables, with no clue of what you’re going to cook, it’s likely that at least some of the food will end up in the bin. By putting time into the planning stage, you can save yourself throwing your hard-earned money into the compost each week. Work out what you are going to eat each day, and what you need to buy from the shops. This will help you to avoid food and financial waste, as well as helping you to assess whether you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Seeing everything written down makes it much easier to analyse your food intake.

2. Shop around – now that you have a shopping list, you can hunt for some bargains. Buying everything from your over-priced corner shop could become expensive, so try to shop around for the best bargains. You may find it useful to split your shopping list, and buy certain items from your local green grocers, and visit supermarkets to snap up a bargain offer.

3. Make the most of offers – use offers, in-store specials, and coupons as a way of grabbing some bargains, but be careful not to impulse buy. Stick to your list, and buy only what you need, but make the most of any offers that fit into that criteria. Supermarkets often have fresh fruit and vegetable offers, and your local green grocers may sell discounted produce close to the best before date.

4. Bulk it up – cooking in bulk can help to save you money. Buy what you need, cook it all, and then freeze what you don’t need. You’ll have some meals ready and waiting for you in the freezer then, and this will help you knock some money off a future food shop.

As well as eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin. Do you have any tips for eating healthy on a budget?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Iron During Pregnancy

Iron is an essential mineral needed by the body to help make red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. During pregnancy, you need to ensure you are getting enough iron for your baby’s needs as well as your own. Your iron intake becomes increasingly important after week 20 of the pregnancy.

Iron is stored in the body, but by week 20 these stores will be running low. From week 20 onwards, your baby requires more iron than before. If you aren’t getting enough iron during the second half of the pregnancy, you may find yourself lacking in energy.

Eating enough iron during pregnancy

It is possible to get all of the iron you need during pregnancy through your diet. Be sure to eat lots of iron-rich foods every day as part of a healthy balanced diet. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, pulses and lean meat are all foods naturally high in iron. Breakfast cereals fortified with iron, black molasses, seaweeds, parsley and watercress are also good sources of dietary iron. Cooking food in ironware also adds a small amount of iron into your diet.

Liver is a good source of iron, but should not be consumed during pregnancy. Liver is rich in vitamin A which can harm the baby if consumed in large quantities during pregnancy, so pregnant women are advised to avoid liver.

Consuming vitamin C with iron aids iron absorption. Try to have a glass of orange juice, or eat an orange, with your iron-rich lunch. If you’re taking iron supplements, take them with a glass of orange juice to help your body get the most out of them.

Iron supplements during pregnancy

In the UK, women are not advised to routinely take iron supplements during pregnancy because of the risk of side effects. Possible side effects include constipation, diarrhoea and nausea. If you are suffering from low iron levels or anaemia, however, your healthcare provider may recommend that you take supplements for the remainder of the pregnancy.

In the US, it is more common for pregnant women to take iron supplements during the second half of pregnancy, and many prenatal vitamins contain added iron. Speak to your healthcare provider about the possible need for iron supplements during pregnancy.

Anaemia during pregnancy

Anaemia is a common complaint during pregnancy. You require extra iron during pregnancy to ensure your baby is getting enough oxygen and nutrients in the womb. You have an increased risk of developing anaemia during pregnancy if you suffer from severe morning sickness, are carrying multiple pregnancies or have recently had a baby. Symptoms of anaemia include feeling tired and weak, as well as dizziness, headaches and heart palpitations. Contact your healthcare provider if you think you may be suffering from anaemia.

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

10 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

As soon as you found out you were pregnant, you probably started to look for ways to improve your health. Many women find that pregnancy gives them a renewed interest in healthy eating, exercise and clean living. All of a sudden your body goes from being taken for granted to having the ability to create and sustain life. Some women describe pregnancy as giving them a deeper respect for their body. With this in mind, now is the perfect time to improve your health.

  1. Take your vitamins – lots of people have a dusty tub of vitamins in the cupboard that they take sporadically when they stumble upon them looking for the oregano. Now that you’re pregnant, you should start taking your vitamins seriously. Invest in some vitamins specifically formulated for pregnancy – these have higher levels of folic acid and iron than regular vitamins. You should take the vitamins daily during the first trimester, and can continue even longer if you wish.
  2. Eat a heathy diet – now is the perfect time to cut down on take aways, reduce your intake of fatty foods and up your fresh fruit intake. There’s no need to eat for two. In fact, you only need to be eating an extra 300 calories per day by the end of the pregnancy – that’s the equivalent of two slices of buttered wholemeal toast.
  3. Exercise – if you exercised before you became pregnant, then you should aim to continue exercising throughout the pregnancy. If you’ve never exercised before, then now is the perfect time to start. Your pregnancy, and your baby, will both benefit from regular light exercise. Walking, swimming and yoga are firm favourites amongst mums-to-be.
  4. Cut it out – there’s a whole host of things you should avoid during pregnancy – smoking, alcohol and drugs are the most notable. You should also avoid certain foods and medications. Speak to your healthcare provider and find out what you should cut out. If you need help to quit smoking or drinking, ask for it – there’s plenty of help available.
  5. Up your fluids – during pregnancy, you may find yourself feeling thirstier than usual. Increase your fluid intake to ensure your body is getting enough fluids. The healthiest drink you can choose is water.
  6. Get some zzz’s – if you’re feeling sleepy, have a lie down. You are growing a whole other person, so don’t beat yourself up for falling asleep on the sofa. If you are tired, it’s because your body needs to rest. You might be surprised just how much sleep you need, especially during the first trimester, but try to get as much as you can to help you feel and stay healthy.
  7. Don’t overdo it – thanks to pregnancy hormones, you are more susceptible to muscle sprains. Take it easy to avoid ending up with unnecessary aches and pains. If you have a physically demanding job, ask to relinquish some of your more hazardous duties. Lifting boxes, pushing heavy loads, even lifting your toddler may cause sprains, so be cautious or even avoid doing these things.
  8. Talk about it – you may feel during pregnancy you are expected to be happy, excited and blissful at your approaching motherhood, but it’s not true for everyone. Hormonal mood swings, financial worries, concerns over the birth, and even uncertainty about what kind of mother you will be are all to be expected during pregnancy. Don’t keep all of your worries bottled up inside, but instead find someone you can talk to. You could talk to you partner, friends or even an online community of pregnant women. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health, so please do seek help if you feel you need it.
  9. Relax – pregnancy can be an overwhelming time. You may feel you can’t possibly get everything done in time, and this might lead to feelings of stress. Dedicate fifteen minutes each day (more if possible) to relaxing. Meditation, yoga or even simply taking a warm bath are all great ways to unwind at the end of the day. Clear your mind, stop thinking about your to-do list, and let yourself focus on you and your developing baby.
  10. See a professional – you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as you discover you are pregnant, or even before you start trying. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with the information to allow you to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will be your go-to person for the next nine months, so the sooner you get to know each other, the better!

What else are you doing to enjoy a healthy pregnancy?

Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.

10 Ways to Improve the Family Diet

We’ve all heard that to eat healthy you should limit this and add that to your diet. Paleo, clean eating, high protein, low protein, low carb, low fat, sugar free. And on and on and on. With having a new baby, you may notice that you’re a little more conscious of what you’re eating. And when your baby starts eating solid foods, you may really start to focus on what goes in that little body. You may even find that as time goes by, your overall family diet has improved.

The earlier you start to shape your child’s eating habits, the easier it is to eat well as a family. Some parents, though, need help themselves to change the way they eat. If you’re struggling, here are some ideas to get you on the right path:

Always have a family dinner. Have at least one meal each day where everyone sits together. This gets difficult as your children get older and more involved in school and extracurricular activities. Even for working parents this may be a challenge. But it’s one of the easiest ways to reconnect as a family on a daily basis. Family meals help children learn social skills along with healthy eating habits. Research shows that when kids eat a family meal, they are less likely to have behavioral problems and more likely to excel academically.

You’re in control of what you buy. Spend your money on healthy foods, and limit (or avoid spending money on) processed, sugary, high fat foods. Increase the number and variety of fruits and vegetables you eat. Eat across the rainbow – include foods with lots of different colors, which will help you increase the diversity of nutrients you get. Aim for fresh ingredients and limit the number of ready-made processed foods you purchase.

Make a healthy snack list. This is especially helpful as your kids get older, but adults can definitely benefit from this, too. Healthy eating doesn’t mean you need to completely forgo all dessert or treats – but they should be just that … something special you eat only occasionally and in moderation. Snacking can help to keep your blood sugar regular which will keep you feeling better. But come up with a list of healthy choices

Avoid the clean plate rule. Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, even if there’s food left on the plate. Keep this rule in mind with your children, too – allow them to determine when they’ve had enough, and trust what they say. If they’re hungry soon after a meal, having only healthy snack choices (especially fruits and vegetables) make it easier to feel good about frequent eating.

Plan your menu. Having a set list when you enter the grocery store will help you to avoid impulse purchases while you’re there. As your child gets older, include him in meal planning. Have your child help you shop. Learning to connect meals with food selection teaches a lifelong skill. In fact, planting a garden at home can help your child understand even more about where his food comes from.

Cook together. Even toddlers can help to prep foods. You can teach safe kitchen skills, and make meals together with healthy, fresh ingredients. Just the act of contributing to the preparation makes it more likely you child will at least try the food.

Picky eaters make it much harder. When trying new foods or meals, include at least one food your child likes (this is true for adults, too, if you’re trying to change the way you eat). Don’t give in to making separate meals when your child fusses and refuses food. It’s your job to provide healthy food choices, and it’s your child’s decision whether or not to eat it.

Look at a whole day or a whole week rather than worrying over every meal. You can get caught up in a battle when you’re feeling stressed over every bit you or your child take. If you want to eat healthier overall, take a look at one week at a time. What positive changes did you make, and what do you still want to do differently?

Drink more water. Ditch the juice and soda. No need to make sugary kids’ drink mix. Offer water as the beverage of choice from the very start and your children will grow up not knowing any different.

Start slowly. You don’t need to drastically overhaul the way you and your family eat. Make it a one-week experiment. Or try changing one small thing (adding a vegetable to every meal, for example) for a set amount of time, then reassess. It’s a myth that it takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit – it can take 2 months, one year, a lifetime to change the way you eat. But for your children, it’s much easier to instill good habits from the start than to break bad habits later.

What changes have you made toward healthy family eating?

Written by Michelle, childbirth instructor, lactation consultant, and mother to 4 busy kids

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice.  All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.

5 Foods For Breastfeeding

There are a lot of inevitabilities that go hand in hand with having a baby. One of them is that at some point, you will open some magazine and find a picture of some celebrity who gave birth a week or two before you and somehow, miraculously, has their pre-baby body back. It’s one of the laws of the universe, it would seem; nature’s way of making us feel guilty for not bouncing back so quickly ourselves.

When you come across those pictures, try to keep a few things in mind. Celebrities have a crew of people on board to help them bounce back like that, everything from nutritionists and trainers, to nannies and plastic surgeons. And those magazines have skilled Photoshop experts at their disposal as well. So don’t let the pictures weigh you down too much.

In fact, don’t let them weigh you down at all. These post partum months shouldn’t be about losing weight. Yes, that will happen on it’s own with time (and bonus, breast feeding can help!) but your focus now should still be on healing and being the best, healthiest version of yourself for your baby. Which means paying attention to your hunger cues (no starvation diets!) and skipping the calorie counting drama.

It also means filling up on these foods for breastfeeding that are great for you, your baby, and your breast milk:

  1. Oats: It’s believed that oats serve both as an anti-inflammatory (which is great for a woman post-partum) and a milk supply booster. So start your morning off with a bowl of whole grain oats, or splurge on some oatmeal cookies.
  2. Garlic: Studies have actually found that babies drink more breast milk when mothers have garlic before breastfeeding. This can be a good thing for little ones who are slow to eat otherwise, and it can also help to boost your production in the process. Plus, who doesn’t love garlic?
  3. Nuts: All nuts contain amino acids that are necessary for serotonin production, which is integral to lactation. If you’re standing in the nut aisle and don’t know what to choose, go for the almonds—they’re a great source of protein as well. Breastfeeding mothers whose children have a high risk of developing an allergy, may want to discuss with their healthcare provider about eliminating foods such as dairy, nuts, eggs, and fish from their diet. However, so far there is no clear evidence that a breastfeeding mother’s diet will have any effect on whether her baby develops an allergy.
  4. Healthy Fats: Every healthy diet should include healthy fats, making avocados and salmon great breastfeeding foods.
  5. Water: Okay, so maybe water isn’t exactly a “breastfeeding food” or something you “eat,” but it is a necessary component of breastfeeding and overall health. Becoming dehydrated is one of the quickest ways to dry up your milk supply, so remember to always keep a full bottle of water handy!

What are your favorite foods for breastfeeding?

Written by Leah Campbell, infertility advocate, adoptive mama, writer and editor. Find me @sifinalaska on Twitter.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.