What To Eat During Pregnancy

Photo: Courtesy of Atria Books
When you get pregnant, the food advice you receive tends to revolve around what you supposedly can't eat or drink: sushi, seafood, alcohol, soft cheeses, and so on. (Bummer.) But you have to wonder: What kind of healthy fuel is actually good for your growing baby? Registered dietitians Stephanie Clarke, R.D. and Willow Jarosh, R.D. know this question all too well, and they're here to tell you what you can and should eat when you're expecting.

Clarke and Jarosh, who met in graduate school, founded C&J Nutrition together to further their mission to share accurate, up-to-date nutrition information in the most easily digestible ways. After finding themselves working with a lot of pregnant women in their nutrition practice, Clarke and Jarosh decided to put their heads together for a book full of recipes that are geared towards the symptoms of each stage of pregnancy and beyond. The Healthy Happy Pregnancy Cookbook, available in bookstores today, is a compilation of more than 125 delicious recipes.

We hopped on the phone with Clarke and Jarosh to discuss the best things to eat during pregnancy, from a nutritional and practical standpoint.
How did the idea for this book come about?

Willow Jarosh: "Well, the book was kind of a combination — we had written an article for Oprah.com on pregnancy nutrition, and then the concept for the book sort of grew from there."

Stephanie Clarke:
"We love working with pregnant women in our private practice, and [pregnancy is] such a great time to change your eating habits, and good nutrition is obviously so important for moms to grow the healthiest baby that they can.

"We’ve always really enjoyed this topic, and we were actually approached by a publisher to write something about that. No one had ever written a book where each recipe and each chapter was based on a common discomfort that most women have during pregnancy. So there was nothing like [that] out there, and we felt there was a need for it."

WJ: "We love the 'food-as-medicine' approach, and the idea that everyone has the chance within them to empower themselves to feel better, or prevent certain types of diseases to occur in the future. And we thought that, during pregnancy, there's something nice about having that internal power, that feeling of knowing you're not feeling so great because of this discomfort, but there is something you can do about it. And it can be delicious, too!"

What was the process behind piecing together these recipes?

SC: "All of this is based on what main nutrients or qualities in a recipe women want in each different stage of pregnancy in order to fight heartburn, or fight constipation by maximizing the amount of fiber, [etc.].

"We also have chapters that are about prepping ahead for baby, so they have all the freezer meals that either you or your friends and family who offer to help can make.

"From a nutritional standpoint, all the chapters have certain nutrients that you need, to either combat symptoms, or nutrients that are really important during pregnancy, like omega-3 fatty acids or protein-rich foods and...vitamin C and choline."

WJ: "Once we knew what discomforts we wanted to focus each chapter on, we really wanted to vary the types of recipes that were in them. Each chapter has breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks and treats in it. Within each discomfort, you have a variety of types of meals to choose from, and we really try to change up the flavors, too.

"We also really tried to keep the ingredients less processed, but even beyond that, we wanted to make the ingredients accessible to somebody no matter where they live. Most of the ingredients are something you can [easily] find...that aren’t going to cost you hundreds of dollars."

SC: "I think there’s a good mix of recipes. You have one chapter on just cravings, so there’s a lot of standard comfort food there — things like mac and cheese, and we put our own spin on it by adding cauliflower to maximize the amount of veggies you get without changing the mac and cheese too much.

"We’re encouraging women to try something new without stepping so far out of their comfort zone and having to buy so many expensive, exotic ingredients. You can really open up your palate, and beyond pregnancy...hopefully this is something that the whole family can adopt."
Photo: Courtesy of Atria Books
Did you include any recipes for after giving birth?

"Yeah, We have a chapter for nursing, so we have meals for women who are...breast-feeding, and then we also have just really fast meals for when you don’t have as much time as you used to. Like Steph mentioned before, they're also for the entire family!"
What are some things you recommend eating while breast-feeding?

SC: "One of the things to advise while women are breast-feeding is to make sure they’re eating enough, but also that the food they’re eating is really nutrient-rich. Because you have so much increased hunger [while breast-feeding], we really focused on providing meals [to] keep women satisfied, so they’re rich in fiber and protein.

"Like Willow mentioned before, when you’re nursing, you have so little time to actually make a meal, and you need something really quick to grab from the fridge, so a lot of the meals are based on being time-saving and something you can eat with one hand."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Healthy Happy Pregnancy Cookbook is available in bookstores on September 27, 2016.

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