Healthy Thanksgiving Hacks for Pregnancy
Dark Meat Can't Be Beat
Skip the white meat and reach for a dark piece of thigh or leg. The pigmentation in dark meat is the presence of myoglobin, an iron-binding protein found in the most active muscles. Dark meat is more nutrient-dense, containing higher levels of minerals like iron and zinc, which support brain and neurological development in babies.
Dark meat is also higher in water-soluble B-vitamins like riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B-12—all needed to develop the nervous system and prevent congenital disabilities. Since we don’t store water-soluble vitamins, eating them regularly is essential, and dark meat will offer up a more potent dose.
All Aboard the Gravy Train
Gravy is made from the collagen-rich drippings of your turkey and butter, and during pregnancy this delicious sauce could be considered a superfood.
Firstly, our body is primarily collagen; it is the major building block of our bones, muscles, and skin. Our collagen needs increase as the baby grows. It's been documented that with each pregnancy, the collagen and elastin content of a woman's uterus increases.
Collagen is a protein comprised of the amino acids glycine, proline, alanine, and hydroxyproline, but it doesn't just make up the structures of our body. It also influences our health on a cellular level. Glycine specifically supports cellular methylation or detoxification and the production of the most potent endogenous antioxidant, glutathione. Plus, 2021 research suggests glycine becomes conditionally essential later in pregnancy.
Dairy provides bioavailable nutrients, including calcium, iodine, and fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K. In fact, your iodine needs double during pregnancy because your baby is storing it to support thyroid hormone synthesis, metabolism, and nervous system development. Dairy also provides preformed Vitamin A or retinol needed to regulate gene expression and support fetal heart development. Although Vitamin D and calcium are critical for bone health, K2 is the nutrient that ensures calcium is deposited into bones, making it extremely important throughout your pregnancy. K2 is more challenging to obtain than K1, readily available in leafy greens, but butter is a great source.
Veg, Veg, and More Veg
Vegetables provide the body with water-soluble vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber to feed the microbiome and support digestion.
Although constipation can happen for a multitude of reasons, it’s more common during pregnancy because of the increase of progesterone that loosens muscles and ligaments like your bowels, which slows digestion. Adding non-starchy, fiber-rich vegetables (like cauliflower mash) can support digestion, blood sugar balance, and microbiome health.
It’s been observed that with each trimester of pregnancy the maternal microbiome becomes more inflammatory, in part because of hormonal changes and in part because of diet. The rise in estrogen and progesterone to support pregnancy brings with it alterations in gut function and microbiome composition that increase vulnerability to pathogens. Although we don’t have control of the natural hormonal shifts of pregnancy we can and should make the choice to include non-starchy vegetables to support our microbiome health because we pass it down to our babies. In fact, maternal microbiome health plays a major role in the foundation of the child’s gut microbiome with long-lasting health implications
Don't Skip Dessert
Make desserts with whole food carbohydrates (aka cellular carbohydrates) like sweet potatoes, berries, and dates; because their sugars and starches are wrapped up in a fiber cell, they have a less aggressive impact on blood sugar. Cellular carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber you and your baby need and can replace sweeteners in your dessert to lower the sugar content and support blood sugar balance.