CNN photojournalist Jeremy Harlan is based in Washington D.C. This is the second installment in a two-part series on what to cook for a pregnant spouse. In this instance, beast is a loving term. Read the first installment here.
I know it now seems like you’re cooking with one arm tied behind your apron, but there are a lot of things that pregnant women can and should eat. I asked nutritionist and registered dietitian Katherine Tallmadge for help with what we significant others should be putting on the breakfast bar, in the lunch pail and on the dinner table.
She gave me these important suggestions:
“We like to advise four servings per day (a serving is one cup of milk, one cup of yogurt or 1.5 ounce hard cheese),” she added.
I mentioned in the first installment that omega-3 oils are important, as is iron. In fact, most prenatal vitamins that women take during pregnancy have high amounts of both nutrients. If you want to give her a little extra iron, you can never go wrong with Popeye’s favorite snack: spinach. And maybe take it down with a glass of OJ: Tallmadge says the body absorbs iron better when taken with a Vitamin C source.
But I warn you, too much iron can cause one big problem for pregnant women: constipation. Yep, I said it. So, what Tallmadge suggested next is VERY crucial.
“Fiber–rich foods are also important to keeping mom regular. These foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, also contain important nutrients like potassium, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, the B-vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron, which are important for mom and baby.”
Common fiber-rich include broccoli, black beans, peas, oats, raspberries, bran cereal, grapefruit, lima beans and apples – and the list goes on and on.
When you’re planning a well-balanced meal, Tallmadge suggests including four basic food groups:
Want my suggestion for a dinner? I like making a fresh spinach and steak salad.
This meal provides protein, iron, fiber, a healthy fat and vegetables. Find a dairy product and a whole grain on the side, and you have a well-balanced meal for Mama.
I Could Really Go For A Marshmallow Fluff Covered Pickle With Maraschino Cherry Juice
We’ve all heard the horror stories and urban legends about pregnancy cravings. I’m sure they’re out there, but sometimes I think they can be a little over-dramatized. My wife’s have been fairly simple: citrus fruits, the aforementioned cheeseburgers, and peppermint ice cream.
Suffice it to say, not all of these are totally healthy. But that doesn’t mean you should pry the spoon from the hands of your lady while she’s digging into a bowl of peppermint ice cream and watching “Teen Mom” (another of my wife’s ironic cravings).
Tallmadge believes these unhealthy cravings should not be taken away, but enjoyed in moderation. As far as I’m concerned, my wife can single-handedly keep the Florida citrus industry afloat this winter. We limit our cheeseburger runs to once or twice a week, and the peppermint ice cream spends more time in the freezer making friends with the frozen edamame and garlic heads than it does watching trashy MTV shows.
Also, when hunger strikes, keep the fridge stocked with healthy options like yogurt, fruit cups, soups, salads, crackers, cheese, etc. My wife has done a great job in that department. I’m pretty sure we’re now a test facility for all Yoplait yogurt flavors.
So Much To Digest
There is much to consider when planning for a new arrival, let alone what’s best to eat and not to eat. My lasting advice is this: know what she can’t eat, know what she should eat and ask her what she wants to eat. A lot of times with pregnant women, what sounds good to them today will make them wince tomorrow. Their appetites for things change quickly, so you have to be on the ball with an alternative to original meal plans.
But also stick to your guns. She needs to eat her carrots - every last one.