If you are a pregnant or nursing mother (or parent at all), the world can seem like a scary place. We are constantly bombarded by “experts” telling us to do this or don’t do that, eat this but don’t eat that, say this but don’t say that (by experts, I’m referring to anyone who has two lips and a loud voice).
Most of the time people really do mean well, it is just that they haven’t taken the time to do the proper research. Wikipedia is not a reliable source for health information, neither is that magazine, “news” outlet or TV show. You should be getting your health information from a reliable source like a healthcare professional (like a registered dietitian), quality website (anything with .edu, .org, .gov are all good starts), or research studies. But even then, you have to remember that just because one study finds something, that doesn’t mean it is the gold standard.
I recently helped a first-time mom with a few nutrition questions. She came to me wanting advice on how to eat a healthy diet so that her son gets everything he needs (she is nursing). Her first comment was “I know that I need to avoid nuts and dairy, but is there anything else?”
I tried my best not to cringe at her question but rather to get a better idea of her knowledge and to help her learn more about some great food options.
It used to be recommended that pregnant and nursing women avoid many of the common allergens (fish, seafood, eggs, milk, nuts) until the child reaches upwards of the age of three. That’s a long time to go without a PBJ (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich!
New research (2008-present) shows that there is no reduction in food allergies in children when mom avoids nuts during pregnancy or nursing. In fact, the opposite has been shown. Moms who eliminate nuts from their diets during pregnancy and nursing (and who delay introduction to the child) show a higher rate of peanut allergies in children. Source.
Even mothers who have a family history of nut allergies are encouraged to not limit nuts from their diet during pregnancy and nursing. (Of course, if mom has a nut allergy, then nuts should never be eaten.) In fact, it has been noted that mothers who eat the most peanuts (and dairy) throughout pregnancy have babies with the lowest rate of asthma and food allergies. If you think that your baby is reacting to something you are eating, please talk to your pediatrician for more information. This is reassuring news for this peanut butter-loving mom! I’m not sure what I would eat for breakfast if it wasn’t for my whole wheat bagel and peanut butter.
Peanuts are a great source of protein, folate and healthy fats (all necessary during pregnancy and nursing). Try this delicious Peanut Mushroom Burger, or Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich and kick up your next meal!
So for all you expecting and new moms, don’t delay! Grab a slice of bread and a scoop of peanut butter and enjoy.