Food Safety During Pregnancy

Well today’s my due date!  Which means this will likely be the last pregnancy post.  Don’t worry I’ll still give you information on pre- and post-natal nutrition and throw in some baby nutrition information as well in the future!


Today I want to talk about Food Safety during Pregnancy.  Pregnant women are more susceptible to illness because their immune systems are weakened.  These are the foods pregnant women are advised to avoid eating:

In addition to avoiding these mentioned foods, you want to make sure you are handling food safely.

The FDA has great information on their website, and I will summarize the main points here.

  1. Clean: Wash your hands often.  Keep kitchen utensils and supplies clean at all times.  Wash your fruits and vegetables.
  2. Separate: Always keep raw food separate from cooked food.  Use a separate cutting board and plates for anything with cooked food versus raw food.
  3. Cook: Cook foods to their proper temperature.  Keep foods out of the danger temperature zone of 40-140 degrees F and throw away any food that has been left out for 2 hours or more!
  4. Chill: Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below and your freezer at 0 degrees F.  Follow use by dates on packaging, and consume leftovers in a couple days.

My Pregnancy Summary

Overall I have had a great pregnancy, but it’s not over yet!  I know a lot of women have trouble late in their pregnancy due to swelling, back pain, lack of sleep, having to use the bathroom all of the time, and other complains.  But I really haven’t experienced these problems!  I have no swelling, I sleep 7-8 hours each night and use the bathroom maybe one time.  I have had some days where I’m very tired, but that I can handle!

My doctor instructed me to be as active as possible to try to get the baby moving, so I’m following her orders 🙂  Yesterday I walked a total of 6 miles and the day before 5 miles.  I just put on my sneakers and go!  I gave up wearing cute shoes for walking a couple months ago, and only wear sneakers because comfort is definitely the most important thing at this point.  At the end of the day my bones ache (they’re stretching!), but the doctor said that’s normal.  I’m also keeping up with my prenatal yoga (1-2 times/week), which I believe has helped me avoid back pain during my pregnancy.   And I’m still doing some light weights at this point, but much less than I was previously doing.

My husband and I are ready for this baby to come and hope she shows her face soon so that I can avoid being induced!  As much as I have enjoyed my pregnancy, I’m ready for the next phase…to meet her!


A Healthier Deli Meat

Deli sandwiches are so easy and can be a very healthy choice.  Unfortunately, I can’t eat them right now.  Turkey, ham and roast beef are all lean options!  I tell my clients you can find a turkey sandwich on whole wheat (sans mayo) wherever you go!

The main issues with deli meats are the nitrates and the sodium content.  Sodium nitrate is a common ingredient in deli meats that is used as a food preservative.  The concern with nitrates is that it’s a known carcinogen.  Now I wouldn’t go crazy if you consume it from time to time, but if you consume deli meats on a daily basis I recommend using a brand that is nitrate free.

In the past I have always recommended Applegate Farms products.  I love their products because they are organic and nitrate free.  However, these are not sold everywhere and are a bit pricey.  This morning while watching the Today Show, there was a segment on the healthiest packaged foods and they mentioned Hormel Natural Choice deli meats that are nitrate free!  While I haven’t tried these myself, I’m sure they are easier to find and would make a great healthy lunch meat choice.

Keep in mind, sodium content on these brands is still high.  So if you suffer from high blood pressure look for a reduced sodium, nitrate free alternative.

Do you enjoy deli meats?

Pregnancy Food Cravings

One of the first questions my clients and friends ask me is if I’d had any food cravings during my pregnancy, and surprisingly the answer is: NO! While there have been times that I’m in the mood for dessert or french fries, they haven’t been real cravings because I can live without them (and usually do).

Most pregnant women do have some types of cravings, but why?

  • Research is inconclusive as to why pregnancy food cravings occur.
  • Some believe that it’s your body telling you that you need a nutrient.  For example if you are craving a burger, maybe your body needs iron or protein.  However, studies have not proven this.
  • Many professionals say it’s those pregnancy hormones once again that lead to the cravings.

When to be concerned?

  • There’s a condition called Pica, which is a craving for non-food items (clay, dirt, paper, paint chips, raw flour, etc).
  • If you are experiencing this make sure to talk to your doctor.

How to manage cravings:

  • Allow yourself a little slack, and give in when you know absolutely nothing else will suffice.  Just make sure to eat balanced meals in addition to your cravings so that you don’t replace healthy foods (ie fruits and vegetables) for junk food all the time!
  • Keep your portions small.  If you want ice cream, get it, but get the small!
  • If you want a burger and fries, split it with someone and get a salad to start.  Like I did here.

When you are craving something salty try:

  • Pretzels (instead of chips) or pita chips with hummus
  • Whole grain crackers or rice cakes with low fat cheese and sliced tomato
  • Low fat popcorn
  • 1 ounce of salted nuts
  • Low fat tortilla chips dipped in salsa and/or guacamole
  • Soy Crisps
  • Lightly salted edamame
  • Vegetables and low fat ranch dip

When you’re craving something sweet try:

  • Fat free yogurt with 1/4 cup granola
  • Kashi TLC Granola Bar
  • Fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit (watch portions!)
  • Frozen grapes or bananas (very refreshing in the summer!)
  • Smoothie: skim milk, fat free yogurt, frozen fruit and flaxseed
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries: melt 1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips in the microwave and dip strawberries
  • Fat free pudding
  • Chocolate Milk or Hot Chocolate (made with skim milk)
  • 1 Graham cracker sheet topped with low fat ricotta, a drizzle of honey and cinnamon
  • Luna, Balance, Clif or Zone Bar
  • Fat free or low fat frozen yogurt/ice cream (portion it out from the big containers!)

When it comes to actual meals: burgers, pizza, lasagna, etc.  I say make your own!  You can easily save a lot of calories and fat.  If you’re too tired, not in the mood, or just don’t have the time watch your portions!

There are two main concerns with pregnant women giving into food cravings all the time.  The first is that they may gain too much weight which isn’t healthy for mom or baby.  And secondly is that the less healthy foods will replace healthy ones and the women might not get all the proper nutrients she needs.

Have you had intense pregnancy cravings?

Black Bean & Corn Salad

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and while I wish I could take credit for it, I can’t!  But Cooking Light can. It reminds me of the summer, something that it lately has felt like here in NYC!

I follow the recipe to a T and it can be found here.  Since it’s not corn season yet, I used no salt added canned corn, but it’s even better when you have fresh corn on the cob.

Last night I served this as a side dish to beef tacos.  Today I’m eating it on top of salad with guacamole and cheese for lunch.  I’m sure it would be delicious made into quesadillas as well!  I have a lot leftover so I’m sure I’ll be eating it in a few more variations as well!

Nutrition Tidbit: Black Beans

  • Black beans are a nutrition powerhouse.
  • They are full of fiber (1/2 cup = 8 grams).
  • They’re brimming with disease fighting antioxidants – yes beans have a lot, they’re not only in your fruits & veggies!
  • Black beans also contain folate (great during pregnancy!), manganese, protein, magnesium, vitamin B1, phosphorus and iron.
  • The combination of fiber and protein gives you stable energy while preventing spikes in your blood sugar.
  • And they’re inexpensive!

Do you cook or eat black beans?  What is your favorite recipe?