Is it ever okay to eat processed foods when you are striving for optimal pregnancy nutrition? Well, yes and no. If you are trying to keep your weight gain low and your baby healthy, then swearing off the processed foods can bring a huge benefit to you throughout your pregnancy.
On the other hand, processed foods are so ingrained into our culture that it can be difficult to envision life without them. Is there a time and a place for processed foods during pregnancy? Or should you eliminate them from your diet altogether? In this article, we get to the bottom of the processed versus whole foods debate for pregnant women.
Pros and Cons of Processed Foods
Processed foods have some obvious advantages over their whole and unprocessed counterparts. For one thing, they are extremely convenient to obtain. If you get hungry while you are out running errands, it’s easy to step into a fast food restaurant and order a value meal off the menu. In addition, processed foods are cheap.
If you are watching your budget while you are pregnant, then processed foods may seem like an inexpensive way to fill up and satisfy your cravings. In fact, you may decide that eating lunch meat while pregnant is a great way to get your protein in at every meal, without going to the expense and bother of preparing a lean cut of meat at home.
The cons to processed foods, though, are many. They are filled with sodium, fillers, and calories. This gives them the potential to wreck your eating plan and cause you to gain weight if consumed to excess while you are pregnant.
They also can contribute to water retention, as the high sodium content can trigger your body to retain water. Processed foods are also packaged with fillers that usually contain wheat or gluten. These two ingredients can contribute to bloating and indigestion when you are pregnant.
The bottom line is, processed foods are at best a shorter–and often short-sighted–solution to your nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Pros and Cons of Whole Foods
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The benefits of whole foods are pretty obvious. They are usually higher in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber-all of which are nutritional elements that are key to successful pregnancy nutrition. They are free of chemicals, hormones, and other questionable substances that can potentially harm your developing fetus during pregnancy.
In addition, whole foods offer more bang for your buck-higher nutrients per portion than processed foods. So even if whole foods seem more expensive, you are getting more of the “real deal” when you eat them.
The cons of whole foods are obvious too. You have to take the time out of your busy schedule to prepare them, and you must make an extra effort to bring them with you as you go about your daily routine.
Also, organic and hormone-free products are also usually more expensive than regular products at the grocery store. So even moms with the best of intentions can find that whole foods are too inconvenient and too expensive to incorporate into their diet plans.
Tips for Making the Switch
You can, however, have the best of both worlds if you slowly incorporate whole foods into your lifestyle. One of the best ways to do this is to seek out a local farmer’s market.
The vendors there often offer organic fruits, vegetables, eggs and even meats at the peak of freshness and in season, making them much less expensive than out-of-season produce at your grocery store.
Try packing an apple and raw nuts as a snack while you run errands, rather than making a stop at McDonald’s while you are out. Even just trying one new thing can make a huge improvement in your pregnancy and how you feel.
Are you looking for the best advice about pregnancy nutrition? Need to know which foods to avoid while pregnant? To learn more about pregnancy nutrition and get exercise recommendations and eating tips for a healthy pregnancy, visit http://whattoeatwhilepregnant.com.
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Whole Foods Raintree
Image by ariztravel Whole Foods @ Raintree and 101. Scottsdale, AZ
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