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Program Your Baby's Health
The Pregnancy Diet for Your Child's Lifelong Well-being
by Barbara Luke, ScD., M.P.H., R.D. and Tamara Eberlein

Whether you're already pregnant, trying to conceive or even just thinking about trying to conceive one day, Program Your Baby's Health is packed with detailed dietary information that can help you provide the very best start for your child. The basis for the information in this book is metabolic programming. Dr. Luke, one of the authors, says this about metabolic programming: "While this term is often used to describe the relationship between a poor uterine environment and long-term health problems, metabolic programming also includes a positive side: An optimal uterine environment can help to promote life-long good health." She goes on to say, "Just as poor nutrition during pregnancy can lead to long-term health problems for a child, optimal nutrition in pregnancy helps to reduce the risk of chronic disease and sets the stage for a child's long-term well-being."

So it's that simple. The beauty of this book is that the authors go into great detail in explaining what it means to have "optimal nutrition." This is not just a book about balanced diets. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 lay out the framework for getting off to the best possible start, even before a child is conceived. In fact, throughout these chapters you will find special sections in bold - "If you're planning to get pregnant" - that offer tips and advice for women who aren't yet pregnant. On page 20 is one of many tables and charts contained in the book. This table, for example, is a menu guideline for women who aren't pregnant, women in their first trimester, women in their second or third trimesters, and nursing women. One of the strengths of this book is that it summarizes things nicely in tables and charts.

Tips for Morning Sickness

Take the salty and sweet approach. This is the newest thinking in the treatment of nausea. Foods such as potato chips, which have very little aroma but are high in salt, have been remarkably successful, particularly in combination with a sweet beverage.

Eat often - at least every two hours. Going too long without eating or drinking causes your blood sugar to drop, which in turn can trigger nausea, so don't let more than two hours pass without a snack or meal.

Have a midnight or middle of the night snack. If mornings are your worst time, it may help to have a slow-to-digest snack such as a grilled cheese sandwich, cereal and milk, cream-based soup, yogurt or ice cream just before bedtime.

Consume protein along with carbohydrates. It is a myth that eating only fruit will ease morning sickness. To keep blood sugar on a more even keel, be sure to eat some protein along with a carbohydrate snack.

Go for ginger. Ginger has long been used to settle the stomach. Try this recipe for ginger tea: peel and finely dice a knuckle-sized piece of fresh ginger. Place in a mug and fill with boiling water; steep for five to eight minutes. Add brown sugar to taste. Other options include ginger ale and gingersnap cookies

More information on each of the suggestions above, along with several other tips can be found beginning on page 134 in the book.

Chapters 5, 6 and 7 cover the first, second and third trimesters, respectively. The book offers menu ideas for each trimester, along with practical advice for dealing with nausea, vomiting, gaining the appropriate amount of weight, exercising safely, and traveling. All of the chapters explain specifically how nutrients play a role in an unborn baby's development at different stages of the pregnancy. Chapter 8 covers the "fourth trimester" and baby's first year. This chapter has information about a newborn's brain and respiratory system and ways to provide for their optimal growth. Breastfeeding is discussed at length as well, and nutritional requirements for nursing mothers are laid out in Table 8-1. Tips for bottle-feeding and starting solids are also included. One thing I liked about this chapter was that it included the CDC Growth Charts for the United States, the same charts that pediatricians use to determine what percentile a baby falls into. Chapter 9 goes over childhood and adolescence, giving nutritional requirements and sample menus. There is an important warning about the risks associated with putting children on the same low-fat, high-fiber diet that Mom and Dad might be on. There are also suggestions for smart snacking and the lure of fast-food. There is also a valuable section regarding obesity in children. The book ends with over 100 pages of recipes, and the nutrient content per serving is given for every recipe.

Knowing that good nutrition is a must for the pregnant woman, this book goes far beyond that, discussing how the nutrients function, why they are important and ways to get "optimal nutrition." While being packed with scientific information, the book is easy to read and would make a fine addition to your library whether you're still in the planning stages of pregnancy, currently pregnant or have a child already.

Here is a sample recipe from Program Your Baby's Health. Nutrient content per serving is included in the book.

Turkey Breast with Cherries and Pecans

1 (3 1/2 pound) turkey breast
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon salted margarine or butter, melted
2 tablespoons apple juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Rinse the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a horizontal slit into the thickest part of the turkey breast to form a 5x4 inch pocket. Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan.
3. In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, cherries, pecans, margarine or butter, apple juice, and rosemary. Spoon the stuffing into the pocket in the turkey. Fasten pocket opening securely with water-soaked wooden toothpicks or tie with heavy string.
4. In a small bowl, mix mustard and oil and brush the turkey with the mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast.
5. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat thermometer registers at least 180 degrees F, basting with the mustard mixture during the last 15 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing.
Makes 6 servings

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