Once we see the positive pink result appear on the pregnancy test, telling us what we might already be guessing, we often become keenly aware of just how nutritious our diet is day to day. Profound realization settles in. Our miraculous, life-giving body is going to tackle the momentous task of growing a new little person. Besides doctor or midwife visits, our main job throughout the approximately 40-week gestation is to care for ourselves with a whole new reverence. Nutrition suddenly takes on a new meaning. What we eat becomes the building blocks for growing our tiny babies. Our nutrition is as important for ourselves as it is for our unborn children.
That heightened awareness of nutrition hits us again about halfway through our first year of motherhood. We begin to watch the sweet eyes of our cherished babies greedily eye the food we prepared as they become interested in mealtime fun. They want a taste! Suddenly, the thought of our babies eating the processed food we just wolfed down for convenience isn’t acceptable.
Now the question is “Where to start?” The thought of revamping our entire diet, and even how we think about food, can be daunting. Nutrition is a continuum of success. No matter where we start, there is room for improvement, and baby steps can put us on the right path.
We can see if inspiration strikes by reading through some cookbooks that foster healthy food choices. Some good resources are The Family Nutrition Book by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, Feed Yourself, Feed Your Family, and Whole Foods for the Whole Family both published by La Leche League International.
A good rule of thumb is that foods have the most nutrition when they are consumed in as close to their natural form as possible. Bring a little color into your world; have each color of the rainbow represented in your family’s meals over the course of the week. Another easy visual cue is to aim for at least half of your plate to be filled with fruits and vegetables. Have fruits and vegetables ready to grab for a quick snack when you are too hungry to ponder nutritional values. Surprisingly, many fruits and vegetables are just as convenient as typical pre-packaged “convenience” foods if you have them on hand, washed, and ready to eat. Place a basket or bowl on the counter filled with whatever produce is in season. Nothing is more tempting than that display of colorful, crisp, juicy, beautiful seasonal produce. Children will follow your lead.
Toddlers and young children are notorious for being picky eaters, and knowing how to fill in their nutritional gaps can be tricky. How about making an appealing “grazing tray” with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, nuts, or whole grain crackers available to them? Put it in a special spot in the refrigerator for them to access independently. You might be surprised at what they choose. Actually, you might be surprised at how appealing it is to you, too! Nutritional gaps are eliminated for everyone!
The road to nutritional enlightenment is a long and imperfect one, with switchbacks and curves, U-turns, and roadblocks. There will be wrong turns and days that are so jammed with the business of life that nutrition might take a backseat. The whole point is not perfection, but to be on the road in the first place.
Source: LLL USA – http://www.lllusa.org/blog/