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3 Ways to Cook Better for a Healthier Baby

Cook, much? Pregnancy is a great time to re-examine what you’re putting you’re your body. And this means looking not only what you’re eating—but also how you’re preparing it.

TAKE OUT THE TEFLON

First, you might want to consider giving up your non-stick pans for a while—such as the rest of your life. When a pan is heated to high temperatures—like to make those quesadillas you’re probably craving right about now—non-stock coatings made from chemicals like PFOAs break apart into carcinogenic substances that have also been linked to high blood pressure in pregnancy, among other problems. Make your cook wear stainless steel, iron or copper coated—even if it means losing the 12-piece set and opting for a smaller number of gently used or new pots and pans.

CHOOSE BETTER MEAT & DAIRY

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to look for USDA Certified Organic options that eschew pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, all of which have been linked to health problems. Unfortunately, the toxic chemicals dioxin is found in all meat—even organic. A potent carcinogen, the chemical accumulates in animal fat, transfers to our bodies when we eat meat, and can even be passed on to our children when we’re pregnant.

Most doctors agree that the all-American diet of meat once—or even three times—a day is probably not the best thing for anybody, especially an expectant mom. Even if you don’t go vegetarian, you can shift your focus during pregnancy towards more beans and whole grains and less meat. Try more low-fat meats, and reduce the fat content by trimming it away before cooking.

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BE FISH SAVVY

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Sadly for those of us who love sushi, seafood is not the safest food in pregnancy—raw fish not at all. First of all, we don’t necessarily know what’s in it: According to a 2011 study, the FDA only inspects .01% of the fish we import for consumption and 80% of the fish we eat comes from other countries where regulatory laws about bacteria and chemical residues may not be so strict.

Regardless of where they come from, if you’re pregnant you need to know that most big fish contain mercury, a neurotoxic byproduct of coal production. The scary thing about mercury—besides the fact that it damages the brain and central nervous system—is that it bioaccumulates, which means it stays in the body and can be passed on to our kids through pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Fetal exposure to mercury has been linked to lower IQs and other negative effects on developing brains, so now is a great time to follow the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendation to avoid swordfish, shark and tuna. For all other fish, check safety first by using the handy-dandy guides The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, MommyGreenest.com

Featured on “TODAY” and “CNN Headline News,” among others, Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant and sustainability advocate. The former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, Rachel was the co-founder of the online magazine EcoStiletto and authored a spinoff book, The Big List of Things That Suck. Today, she publishes MommyGreenest.com and is a partner at Give + Take Swap Boutique in Santa Monica, CA. This piece is adapted from her forthcoming eBook, The Mommy Greenest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.

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health and pregnancy, maternity nutrition, MommyGreenest, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Awareness Month, pregnancy nutrition, rachel sarnoff

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