The availability and consumption of organic food has widely increased over the past few years. Big chains such as Walmart, Costco and Kroger lead the way in organic-food sales, indicating growing mainstream popularity. Even so, altering your grocery shopping and eating habits may not be a top priority. That is, until you’re expecting.
Better for Baby and the Entire Family
Before pregnancy, many women don’t think much about the chemicals, toxins and antibiotics in foods. But once that pregnancy test is positive, keeping the baby safe and healthy becomes top of mind. And for good reason: 100 percent of a growing fetus’s nutrition comes from Mom. This makes her food choices vital for the baby’s growth and development throughout the pregnancy and beyond.
Organic as a Smart ‘Splurge’
When expecting mothers ask me about what they should or shouldn’t be eating during pregnancy, I typically recommend they commit to eating organic fruits, veggies and meat when they can. Many are surprised when I share that commonly-consumed produce like apples, celery and bell peppers have the highest levels of pesticide residue of all fruits and vegetables. It’s beneficial to reference the EWG’s Dirty Dozen shopper’s guide to pesticides which provides a list of the most and least contaminated produce. Yes, going organic can cost more than sticking with conventional food, but for many, it’s worth the extra cost to reduce exposure to pesticide residue in food. This is especially true of food moms eat while pregnant or breastfeeding a newborn, as well as food they feed their baby or toddler.
Benefits of Organic Yogurt
In addition to recommending organic produce and proteins as a standard diet for the entire family, I also suggest organic, whole-milk yogurt for babies who are starting to eat solids, as well as for on-the-move toddlers. It’s often an easy sell to picky first-time eaters. In addition to being a good source of calcium and vitamin D, organic yogurt is produced without the use of persistent pesticides, artificial growth hormones and genetically-engineered ingredients.
Whether you’re planning on getting pregnant, expecting a baby, or raising young children, it’s never too late to make a change in the types of foods you choose for yourself and your family. Combined with other health-conscious diet and lifestyle choices, going organic can be a catalyst for you to commit to a healthier future for you, your baby and your family.
Carole Kramer Arsenault, R.N., is the author of “The Baby Nurse Bible.” Her experience runs from labor and delivery nurse, parent educator and lactation consultant at Boston’s top hospitals to founding Boston Baby Nurse and Boston Baby Concierge. Arsenault also provides weekly pregnancy and baby advice on her blog, contributes to many media outlets and is a newborn health expert on Fox News Boston.