Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pregnant In Kuwait? Eat This....

A safe and healthy pregnancy anywhere begins before you ever get pregnant. Let's face it, you are what you eat- and your body will be creating a baby! Establish a healthful diet and give your baby the best start possible.
By the time you find out your pregnant, usually after the first missed day of your period, you baby's brain, spinal column, lungs and heart are already developing. Make sure your reserves are already stocked full of good the good nutrients it needs. Plus, you may be feeling queasy and sick- not in the mood to eat- so you might have to rely on whats already in your body.
What does your body need? Grains, Vegetables & Fruits, Protein (milk, meat, fish, beans, nuts). Each woman is different- do your research and figure out what approach to good nutrition works best for you. Look under my links for two great articles from Mothering magazine: http://mothering.com/pregnancy-birth/how-much-does-diet-matter-during-pregnancy &  http://mothering.com/pregnancy-birth/sensuous-food-for-the-mother-to-be
Research tells us that the "best advice for optimal health is to eat a wide variety of real food that has been processed as little as possible." (Simkin's Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn) I like simple instructions: Eat a variety of whole foods- fruits and vegetables of different colors, whole grains, and some meat/beans and dairy. Eat sweets in moderation. Listen to your body. You'll feel good when you eat well, and you'll feel rotten when you eat rotten- so keep a balance.  Check out In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008) for a great book about nutrition. Before you get pregnant, be especially aware of including Folate in your diet. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables and some fruits. Folate (Vitamin B9) is needed to help your baby's brain and spine develop normally. Folate that is designed synthetically is called Folic Acid and can be found in cereals, breads, and in supplements.
In Kuwait, it can sometimes feel difficult to eat well- most food is imported and prices are high, so here are some suggestions. I keep my shelves lined with a variety of grains: lentils, bulger, whole wheat, wild rice, brown rice, red beans, black-eyed beans, quinoa etc. Each day I try to incorporate a different whole grain into our meal plans for the day. If you look hard enough, you can find a variety of grains in Kuwait (be adventurous and creative). Also, although produce is generally expensive here in Kuwait, you can look for local (Egypt, KSA, Lebanon) produce that will be less expensive and generally fresher. When I shop, I look for what is in season, and incorporate that into our meals- always making sure that there are fresh fruit and veggies cut and prepared to eat as snacks and during meal times. We eat meat a couple times a week, but get most of our protein from nuts, beans, and plain yogurt. Ideally you should be able to get all of your body's nutrients from natural sources- that is the way that we absorb them the most effectively (for example, Folate from Kale or other dark leafy green vegetables). If you do have a poor diet or are a really picky eater- you should talk to your care provider about ante-natal vitamins.
Avoid caffeine (coffee and soda), mercury (found in large fish), unpasteurized milk products, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and raw meat. See my Link to AmericanPregnancy.org for a more in depth discussion of foods to avoid or limit.
There are so many great things to eat that will help you have a healthier pregnancy. Learn to listen to your body and take care of it before you get pregnant, and you'll be one step closer to ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.

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