The Importance of Dairy During Pregnancy

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As a first-time mom and health professional entering in to the end of my second trimester, what I put in my body has never felt so important. When you know what you’re eating will have an impact on your future baby, most of us want to do all that we can to ensure good nutrition and growth during these months. What a great gift it is to give health and a strong start to your little girl or boy. Many moms get consumed with planning for the future, preparing the nursery, and organizing for what will happen during maternity leave. As important as all those aspects of pregnancy are, try to not forget about getting the vital nutrients you and your baby need during this precious time.

Some of the most crucial nutrients needed for a healthy mom and healthy baby are found neatly packaged together in dairy products. The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women consume 3-4 servings of dairy daily. Achieving this will help provide the necessary amounts of calcium, protein, Vitamin D, phosphorus, and hydration.

Important Nutrients for Pregnancy Found in Dairy:

  - Calcium - daily requirement for calcium before, during and after pregnancy is about 1,000 mg daily.  One cup or 8 ounces of milk provides approximately 300 mg, one cup of low-fat yogurt provides approximately 450 mg.  

- Protein - essential for both growing baby and mom. Protein needs increase during pregnancy by about 60% compared to your needs before pregnancy. It’s important to consume a variety of proteins, including beans, nuts, soy, dairy, eggs and meats or fish*.

- Vitamin D –milk is an excellent source of vitamin D   and is a bone-building nutrient.

- Phosphorus - a necessary nutrient required for building bones in your growing baby and is also needed to help maintain your bone mass during this time.

  - Drinking milk is hydrating! A bonus from drinking milk and eating yogurt is that these foods provide fluids to your body which are in higher demand during pregnancy to support your increased blood supply. It’s easy to get dehydrated during pregnancy and staying on top of fluids is crucial to your daily well being and energy levels.

If you are pregnant and you experience lactose intolerance or have a sensitivity to lactose, try some of these tips to help you obtain the required amount of dairy you need:

1. Choose lactose-free dairy milk which has lactase added in. Lactase is the enzyme necessary to digest lactose (the natural sugar in milk). Lactose-free dairy milk is regular cow’s milk, with an added enzyme.

2. Try the Stir It option: Mix milk with other foods to help slow the digestion of lactose and allow the body more time to digest it. Try mixing milk with cereal, blend with frozen fruit for a smoothie or drink milk with a meal.

3. Eat yogurt! Greek and regular yogurt has live and active cultures which help digest the lactose making them lactose intolerance-friendly.

3. Use an over-the-counter lactase enzyme tablet when eating dairy products. They work naturally to digest lactose inside your gut, giving you the freedom to enjoy the dairy foods you want, when you want

4. Look for natural cheeses which have minimal amounts of lactose, such as low-fat Parmesan, Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss.

Find more information on Lactose Intolerance and Dairy.

 Important! Make sure that all dairy you consume during pregnancy is pasteurized. The American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommend choosing pasteurized milk as the safe choice to drink. Receive the goodness of milk and all of its 9 essential nutrients important for optimal health by consuming the 3 daily servings of dairy recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Read more about pasteurized milk here.  

Some of my favorite meals and snacks for pregnancy:

  • Cheese sandwich with Swiss and aged Cheddar cheese, mustard and cucumbers on whole wheat bread.
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries, slivered almonds and sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Peanut butter and banana smoothie:  1/2 frozen banana, 1 Tbsp natural nut butter, 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (use low-fat or fat-free lactose-free dairy milk for a lactose intolerance-friendly smoothie).
  • Chocolate strawberry milkshake: 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk (regular or lactose-free dairy milk), 1 cup frozen organic strawberries, 2 tbsp natural style cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp sugar or sweetener of your choice.
  • Celery sticks filled with pimento cheese. My Nana in North Carolina makes really great homemade pimento cheese similar to this and it’s great to keep on hand in the fridge for snacking.

*Warning: Do not consume fish high in mercury which can be toxic to the developing fetus. For more information read Mercury Levels in Fish.

Nutrition is so important during pregnancy.  If you or someone you know needs assistance, go to or your local WIC office. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program provides foods, including milk and dairy foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

*This post was written while participating in my partnership with National Dairy Council, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Posted on April 15, 2014 .

25% of Pathological Dieters Progress to a Full Blown Eating Disorder, And other Eating Disorder Facts:

Next week, February 23rd marks the beginning of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2013.  Eating disorder rates continue to climb in America. Eating disorders affect both males and females, young, middle aged and older. There is no way you can look at someone and know if they are struggling or recovering from an eating disorder. What we promote is helping all people find a peaceful body image. Even if you don't suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating, someone you love does. Do your part by refusing to partake in diet talk and "fat" talk, and be a positive role model for your kids by not bashing your body or anyone else's body.

#CaptureHope Campaign: Help the National Eating Disorder Association in a campaign to spread hope for eating disorder recovery by posting images on Instagram that portray a sense of hope to you. Use the tag #CaptureHope during NEDAwareness Week (Feb. 23- Mar. 1).

Posted on February 18, 2014 .

Fresh and Tasty Harvest at Your Local Farmer’s Markets!


Bright yellow, deep red or dark green are just a few colors you will experience when you enter your local farmer's market.  Today we wanted to tell you about the many benefits of buying fresh, nutritious, delicious, and locally grown foods. Buying from farmer’s market is the most fun as well as the healthiest for you and the environment, unless you grow your own. The food is freshly harvested and the transportation times from farm to table are short. Because of this, many nutrients are retained and less food is spoiled. In the general grocery stores your vegetables and fruits have likely traveled hundreds of miles which allow loss of vitamins and minerals and contribute to our air pollution.

Less Harm to the Environment! With buying at local farmer’s markets, as much as 95% of petroleum consumption can be reduced. Minimal packaging is used and therefore very little waste is produced to clog our landfills. Oftentimes, foods are harvested before ripeness has reached its full beauty. Local farmers on the other hand pick their fruits and vegetables when ready to eat, at last 24 hours prior to the market, and when they are in season.

A Fun Family Activity: I also love the interactive and sensory experience of being at the farmer's market. You can speak to the farmer about their products, sample many items, ask questions about their pesticides usage, and learn how certain vegetables are prepared. Another farmer's market plus is the family friendly environment. The experience is usually fun and festive and the outside environment is a welcome break from school, work, and TV.  Fresh samples are often out so that you and your children can try the farmers' goods.

If you wonder where your nearest farmers market is, you’ll find more information on the Local Harvest website.  Here, you'll find out more about the farmers and what fruits and vegetables are currently in season. 

I hope we could convince you to try out your nearest farmer’s market, see and taste the difference in their produce and get to meet your friendly and local farmer in person.

Here are a few locations of farmer’s markets in the South bay:

Torrance Certified Farmers' Market
2200 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90501
Tuesdays and Saturdays
8 – 1 pm

Hermosa Beach Farmer’s Market
1007 Valley Dr
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
12 – 4 pm

Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market
Veterans Park
309 Esplanade
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
8 – 1pm

Manhattan Beach Certified Farmer’s Market
13th Street and Morningside Drive
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
12 – 4 pm

 This post was created by Julia Hofeller. Follow Julia on Twitter today!


Posted on February 4, 2014 .

Super Spinach Dip for Super Bowl XLVIII


For those who may experience lactose intolerance, its always nice to have options available at a party or function that fit well within your dietary needs. Contrary to what some assume, this does not have to be difficult or feel limiting! Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. Individuals with lactose intolerance lack the digestive enzyme, lactase, that allows most people to comfortably digest lactose. If you or someone you know has lactose intolerance, it’s great to know that there are still some delicious, dairy options that don’t have to be completely avoided. Because lactose intolerance is an individual condition, people can handle varying amounts of lactose differently. Using Greek-style yogurt is useful in recipes, as it is lactose intolerance-friendly.

This is a recipe my mom has been making for years. Growing up I always looked forward to having friends over to watch games and having this yummy snack around made by mom. In this version, we’ve boosted up the spinach to add more nutrients, iron and fiber. Using Knorr vegetable recipe mix makes it so easy. I’ve also replaced almost all of the mayonnaise with nonfat, plain Greek-style yogurt which is a good source of protein. Yogurt contains live and active cultures, known as probiotics, that actually help aid digestion. This delicious, creamy, crowd pleaser is always one of the first things to go when I entertain at home. If you have leftovers, spread some of this spinach dip on to whole grain sandwich bread with turkey slices for a fun twist on a turkey sandwich.

For special events, I love to hollow out a head of purple cabbage and serve the spinach dip inside, as a cabbage bowl! Serve with whole wheat pita bread triangles, sliced bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini slices and radishes

Ingredients: Super Spinach Dip

  • 1 package Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix
  • 2 10 oz packages of frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cups non-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped


1. Remove spinach from box and heat in glass bowl in microwave for 2 min, stir and heat for another 1-2 minutes until thaw. Drain thoroughly and press as much water out as possible with a clean towel.
2. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, mayonnaise, Knorr vegetable mix, chopped water chestnuts and green onions.
3. Mix in the thawed spinach.
4. Once combined, let sit in refrigerator, covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To make the cabbage bowl, wash a large head of purple cabbage and remove outer layer of leaves. Cut off the top of the cabbage, about 1 inch from the top. Using a knife cut a hole in to the cabbage and gently remove 3/4 of the inner part, leaving a hollow bowl shape to serve your dip.

This dip will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Looking for more lactose intolerant-friendly recipes? Check out NDC’s recipe list and remember you can simply replace regular dairy milk with lactose-free dairy milk, which has the same essential nutrients as regular and is easy to cook with.

For more information on lactose intolerance visit the National Dairy Council and join the conversation on Twitter by following the #BeyondLI.

*This post was written while participating in my partnership with National Dairy Council, but as always, all opinions are my own.


Posted on January 29, 2014 .

A Note about Failure - A Journey in Loving My Body

Hi all! I'm so honored to be posting a guest post for the Not On a Diet blog in honor of Healthy Weight Week!

I'm currently and actively recovering from a 17 year relationship with compulsive over and under eating as well as horrible body image. I'd like to share my experience of quitting a Tough Mudder; one of those crazy, extreme and often unnecessary competition races. This was a HUGE and humbling journey in loving my body, even just long enough to listen to it's cries.

My feelings would best be expressed through poetry. Thank you for hearing me.


A Note About Failure
   By: Erica Jacobs

They tell you it’s going to hurt
Like it’s funny
A waiver is signed
Should it actually kill you
Red. Flag.

I did it because
“You’re in good shape”
I did it because
“You should be able to do this”
I did it because
“You’re SO strong”
I did it because
“It’s no big deal”

Barbed wire.
Water Board.
50-foot drop.
Ice bath.
Piggyback a grown man.
Wooden wall climb.
Mud in my eyes.

No big deal?

Please, body
Just do this for me
Just this one time

I don’t like getting dirty

I wonder
how many calories this will burn?
May I binge after?
I’m so in my head
I’m looking for patterns
Looking for where I’m going wrong
Looking for a way out
Looking for permission

My masculine is winning
Black and white
You. Must. Finish.

And then
My feminine says…
No thank you no thank you no thank you

And I listen
I’m out of the race
And crossing my own finish line
Into the medical tent

The real question;
If every activity
Were to ‘burn’ the same
which one would I choose?

Not this
That’s for sure

Erica also has an amazing , inspirational, raw, honest and compelling blog that you must check out!  What's Eating Erica Jacobs. She'd love to have you drop in for a visit.

Posted on January 21, 2014 .