Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LD
From the time you even consider starting a family, your whole world changes. This unique time of life brings about unique nutritional needs, as well.
There is so much to think about, and the amount of information you find can sometimes be more overwhelming than helpful.
Here are a few tips to optimize your nutrition from preconception, through pregnancy, and into postpartum.
When you are looking to optimize your fertility, two major things to consider are your overall stress level, and egg and sperm health.
Stress is an often overlooked aspect of fertility. Regular sleep and mindfulness can actually do your body wonders! Dates contain high levels of magnesium, which is one of the best nutrients to fight stress.
If you find yourself prone to high stress and anxiety, consider Roasted Cauliflower with Red Onions, Dates, and Middle Eastern Spices or Sticky Asian Meatballs to increase your magnesium.
Antioxidants are major players when it comes to reproductive fertility - think happy hormones, and improving egg and sperm health. There are multiple studies, that show date palm pollen (DPP) extract contains antioxidants and other compounds that may improve sperm quality and quantity, and aid in egg production.
During pregnancy, choosing foods that have lots of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, etc) is one of the best ways to ensure that mom and baby get all they both need. With the cravings and aversions associated with early pregnancy, and the fact that many women get full very easily later in pregnancy, every bite can really make a difference.
Enter dates - a source of many important nutrients needed in higher amounts during pregnancy like folate, choline, iron, and magnesium.
Many women (an estimated 16-26%) experience some degree of constipation during pregnancy. While there can be many things that contribute to this, one of the best remedies is getting enough fiber. Consider starting the day with Salted Caramel Overnight Oats or Apple Cinnamon Energy Bites.
Dates are a good source of fiber, and specifically have been shown to help increase bowel movement frequency. In one study, people who ate dates for 21 days experienced increases in bowel movements compared to when they did not eat dates.
There are many myths around how to induce labor, but eating dates actually has real data to support the habit. Specifically, eating the equivalent of about 5 Medjool dates per day in the late pregnancy may increase cervical ripening.
In another study, researchers found that women who ate about 6 dates a day for the 4 weeks before delivery had:
shorter labor when compared with women who did not eat dates daily.
As mentioned above, dates are a good source of fiber, and have been shown to increase the frequency of bowel movements. In addition to pregnancy, constipation can show up during postpartum, so it’s worth noting again.
Anyone who has experienced the joys of caring for a newborn can tell you that energy is a real struggle. Instead of relying on caffeine or simple sugars that cause a quick spike and crash, choosing something that is more sustainable is key. Dates have a low glycemic index, which means no blood sugar spike.
Bonus points that they can be eaten with one hand, don’t require any prep, and are shelf-stable, making them super convenient and portable.
After giving birth, some women find that their vitamin and mineral stores are lower than they should be. And for women who are breastfeeding, nutrition needs can be even higher than during pregnancy.
Dates are packed with nutrients that support postpartum healing and lactation, including:
Dates are a naturally sweet and delicious way to get in 16 essential nutrients that can help support preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum. Adding in this nutrition powerhouse can help create lifelong habits for healthy eating.
Whether you are enjoying them in Chocolate Tahini Bites, Blueberry Superfood Smoothie, Stuffed Dates (5 Ways!), or on their own, Medjool dates are a fantastic way to enjoy healthy eating in motherhood.