Turn Your Kitchen into a Medicine Cabinet with These 5 Foods

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Another great post from my friends, Willow and Steph of C & J Nutrition.

One of the many reasons we love being Registered Dietitian-Nutritionists is that we get to help our clients feel the power of food as medicine. Our new cookbook takes this to another level, helping to decrease discomforts during pregnancy using food. Since so many pregnancy symptoms are ones that everyone experiences, even when not pregnant, we’ve put together a list of our favorite “food as medicine” ingredients that we can all use, pregnant or not!

Chia seeds.

Rx: Dehydration, constipation, dry skin, energy fluctuations.

These tiny seeds can absorb up to nine times their volume in water. This means that if you soak them (in water or almond milk, etc.) and then add them to meals and snacks like this Banana Bread Chia Pudding, you get hydration benefits along with the omega 3s, fiber, and protein the seeds themselves provide. The omega 3s can help keep your cells’ membranes healthy, plump, and water-filled. And the protein-fiber combination provides a 1-2 punch to keeping blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Lentils.

Rx: Anemia, constipation, energy fluctuations, low protein intake for vegans/vegetarians

Lentils cook up more quickly (you can have a batch cooked in 20 minutes!) than many of their counterparts (like dried beans) and provide a major boost of protein, fiber, and iron. When it comes to fiber, which most women aren’t getting enough of each day, lentils are tough to beat (1 cup of cooked lentils provides over 50% of your daily fiber needs). Because lentils deliver a balance of fiber-rich carbohydrates AND protein, they’re perfect for keeping your blood sugar levels stable. And, a cup of cooked lentils deliver 1/3 of your daily iron needs!

Plain yogurt (with live, active cultures).

Rx: Gas/bloating, constipation, water retention, low protein intake for vegetarians, muscle cramps

Plain yogurt is a concentrated source of protein, without added sugar. It also delivers probiotics, the healthy bacteria that can have health benefits (including digestive benefits!) in our bodies. The combination of magnesium, potassium, and calcium in yogurt can help keep muscle cramps (including menstrual cramps) at bay. The potassium also helps to pull excess water out of cells so it can be excreted by the kidneys (ie you pee it out!)

Fresh ginger.

Rx: Nausea, bloating

There is SO much research on ginger and nausea, from motion sickness to morning sickness to nausea from cancer treatments. And across the board, ginger appears to reduce the intensity of the nausea, and well as reducing bloating after meals.

Check out our recipe for Lemon-Ginger Zing Cubes from our  Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook. They can be used like mini ice-pops or plopped into some club soda for a less sugary ginger ale!

Potatoes.

Rx: Water retention, constipation, energy fluctuations

Potatoes get such a bad reputation, but they’re pretty amazing. They have more potassium than a banana, so they can help reduce fluid retention in a big way. They’ve also got fiber (especially if you eat the skin). In addition, potatoes are a really delicious way to reduce the amount of processed carbs you’re eating, which can help you feel more energized and improve your health at the same time. Add more potato to your diet with this Twice Baked Avocado Potatoes recipe from our cookbook, which combines the power of potatoes and yogurt into one delicious dish. You can also substitute potatoes in where you usually would use a more processed carb like pasta or bread. For instance, instead of putting ground beef marinara sauce over pasta, try it over a baked potato. Or use a baked potato as the base to eggs Benedict. Or (one of our favorites) use a potato as the base for pizza toppings!

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