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Pregnancy – Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral for a human body, we all know that. It is THE bone builder mineral. It also is an essential nutrient and plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function. However its absorption in the body is insufficient (only 30-40% of Calcium is absorbed in the intestines), plus losses are rather high. That is why the recommended daily intake is high to ensure that body gets sufficient Calcium.

Calcium needs Vitamin D for maximum absorption. One of the reasons Calcium supplements are fortified with Vitamin D. On the other hand Iron and Zinc hinder the absorption of Calcium. And coffee, soft drinks (!) and excessive intake of protein and sodium can deplete calcium levels (as their act as diuretics).

Pregnant and lactating women need more Calcium as the recommended daily allowance as we pass this essential mineral to our babies (growing skeleton, bones, nervous system…..). Before pregnancy I didn’t consumed that many dairy products and supplemented with Calcium supplements (after suffering stress fracture in my hip beginning of 2013). At the start of the pregnancy I was careful what I was putting into my mouth and eliminated pretty much all supplements (apart from folic acid). I tried to get all the nutrients from the food. Which didn’t quite worked out. See my blog Pregnancy Cravings.

But there is something else Calcium plays an important role in. Going through my nutrients book last night I came across this interesting fact. Calcium is a calming mineral and promotes sleep. How interesting!? Pregnancy does rob you from a decent sleep, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are. But especially at the end when you are too huge to move, too many trips to the toilet, worry about things, the list is endless. You are so tired that you don’t even know what a good night sleep is anymore. I know I know it will get worst once baby is here.

Anyway back to Calcium……

When I discovered the reason for my cravings for bread and butter (Calcium deficiency), I started to take Calcium supplements again. I usually take it just before I go to bed as I eat high protein diet during the day. However in the last 3 months my dairy consumption has been increase (cravings!). I do eat a fairly large amount of yogurts, cheese and butter on a daily basis. So I only started taken Calcium Supplements every other day. (things starting to fall into places…..)
Thinking back about the same time, 3 months, where I started having very, very bad night sleeps. Some night I get 3-4 hours of decent sleep, some nights none. I just couldn’t figure out why? I didn’t see the connection.
Last night I started the experiment, does Calcium really promotes a good night sleep? Not sure, but I will see how it goes over the next few nights. Might not be as true as I would wish for, as I am only few days away from due date. But it is worth trying.

Plus it makes perfect sense to me, why it is recommended to drink a glass of warm milk (with a cookie) before bed! Genius…..

Our main sources of Calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt. But there are great alternatives such as green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale) or sardines. Check out this article: Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium.

Irina

 

 
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Posted by on 15 April, 2014 in Health & Wellbeing, Pregnancy

 

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Pregnancy – Cravings

I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to pregnancy cravings. Nothing too ordinary or weird food combinations (apart from cheese with mustard, but I wouldn’t count it as it was a one off trial which was good). I put it all down to good nutrition before conceiving. Really it is the key to prepare your body and mind as much as possible before such an amazing and extraordinary journey.

Before becoming pregnant I was very disciplined with what I eat. Training every day, some days twice a day, does require dedication, pre-planning and finding easy ways for nutritious meals and snacks for quick recovery and adequate energy supply. Paul and I started to eat much more real, natural, unprocessed and balanced food. I also cut down any kind of wheat products as it was causing me discomfort in my GI track.

So when we found out that I was pregnant I knew that my diet has to be even better now. Not only I had to ensure that I get required nutrients, vitamins and minerals for me but I am growing a human being inside me which completely depends on my nutritious intake. Big big responsibility if you ask me. Anything I put into my mouth will affect this little creature for life.

Good Cravings
Loads more fruit such as apples, grapes, bananas, nectarines, citrus fruits and any kind of fruits that are juice and sour. Before pregnancy I was starting to watch my fruit intake due to their high fruit sugar content and only had max. 3 portion a day (I was opting more and more for fresh vegetables). That was a bit odd but I wasn’t too concerned about it. I needed it – body was screaming for it.
Protein in form of chicken, fish but mostly BEEF! I could have killed the cow myself for a good old steak or a proper burger (medium rare of course, I know, I know not suppose to have it medium rare while pregnant, but the cravings….). We started to eat animals protein every day, where before we would have perhaps 2 or 3 days a week no animal protein at all (apart from eggs for breakfast). But again growing human cells requires protein, complete protein. And the best source for complete protein comes from animals. Plus iron! No wonder all my blood results always showed high iron present. Wonderful!
Dairy products – Especially in the last 3 months of the pregnancy I crave much more yogurt, full-fat, plain and/or flavored. Loads more cheese of any kind and from. Even soft cheeses and occasionally blue cheese (bad girl!). And of course butter! Slightly salted on ryvita – delicious! Even though I take Calcium supplements I still have yogurt 3 times a day. I can feel strong bones are baby is already has!

Otherwise I eat as before with small adjustments such as smaller portions and more often.

And here to:

Bad Cravings
I had a phase between 12 to 18 weeks of pregnancy where I craved and just had to have it no matter what – bread with butter. By bread I mean good rustic bread such as dark rye or spelt with loads (really loads!) butter. It was bad, really bad. I could consume a whole loaf of bread and in one session. No problem. I lost all senses of control and discipline (and my mind).

This phase went for about 6 weeks, with some days I could control it but some days it was too much and I had to give in. How did I feel? Rubbish. I had headache for days, dehydrated, constipated, water retention, low on energy, bloated, bad mood and temper (not good combination anyway with pregnancy hormones). And as I still tried to train every day (low to medium intensity) my recovery times were long (due to dehydration). I was in agony after only short weight session. Plus my teeth became very sensitive (!). All symptoms pointing towards WHEAT! And I knew it but I couldn’t gain control.

I did a little research and quickly found that craving bread with butter could be associated with low calcium! Of course butter has calcium but clearly not enough for both of us. I increased my yogurt intake (full fat Greek yogurt) and started taking Calcium supplements.

It was a miracle. After only 2 days my cravings disappeared almost over night. My teeth got better. Water retention went down, I became more energetic. No headaches. I started to feel great! And most important I got “control” over my mind.

All I can say, yes cravings are odd thing during pregnancy and can take over your mind (or make lose your mind). But listening to your body and noticing your behavior is the key. We can blame the pregnancy hormones, which are true, but at the end of the day if we are mindful of what we are putting in our month and think for one moment is that doing us and our baby any good, we can prevent any long term health issues for both. I know we all are unique and different but the basics are the same. Eat good, feel good, be healthy and happy. After all cravings tell us (or scream at us) that something is missing in our bodies, something is inadequate in our diet.

Nutrition is my passion. Food is my lover. Cooking is a second nature. Nature is what I love.

Happy carving!

Irina

 
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Posted by on 7 April, 2014 in Health & Wellbeing

 

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Mung Bean salad

This is another recipe of mine which is super easy to make, healthy and so delicious. Very good to take for lunch to work or as side dish with some poached salmon and steamed broccoli. Delish!

–          300 grams dried mung beans (soaked overnight)
–          Generous bunch of fresh herbs – like coriander, parsley, dill
–          1-2 Chillies – bird eyes deseeded
–          1 Lemon and the zest
–          Feta – use original Greek has more flavour and less preservatives
–          Virgin Olive oil
–          Salt, pepper
–          Optional: Pear or carrot (I do shave the carrot with veg peeler – fun!)

Instruction:

Cook mung beans as per pack instruction (takes about 20-25 minutes). Drain, rinse. Leave to cool a little bit.

While the mung beans are cooking chop herbs and chillies put in big bowl. Zest lemon and use the juice. Cut feta in squares. If using pear/carrot cut in nice pieces (or shave carrot). When mung beans are ready put to the bowl with herbs etc. Add splash of olive oil and salt pepper (careful). Give good mix. Taste, season if needed (or add more lemon juice – see my tip). Mix, taste. Done! Cooking doesn’t get easier than that!

Did you know that mung beans are great source of protein, Vitamin C, Calcium and Carbohydrates.

Happy cooking!

Irina

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