The U.S. Dietary Administration revamps its guidelines every five years. Their new recommendations were just released, with a few big messages: reduce salt, reduce sugar and saturated fats, and skew your diet toward whole grains and plants. This shift coincides with what seems to be a general interest in vegan eating. As demonstrated by the mass pledge toward temporary veganism by the Oprah staff (and likely, countless intrigued viewers), the vegan diet is definitely having a moment. But although the new diet standard is heavier on plant foods than animal based ones, the U.S.D.A. is hardly recommending full veganism. They’re stressing a balanced diet and foods with high nutritional to calorie ratio. Keeping these guidelines in mind can help manage pregnancy weight gain, and make postpartum weight loss easier.
Here are their key recommendations for diet in general, and pregnant women in particular:
• Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
• Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
• Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
• Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
• Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
• Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
• Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
• Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
• Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
And specifically for pregnant women:
• Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.
• Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
• If pregnant, take an iron supplement, as recommended by an obstetrician or other health care provider.
You can read the full document here. Check out the table describing where Americans get most of their calories for a real kick in the pants to change your diet (#1= grain based desserts!) But I recommend the executive summary if you’re in a hurry!