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Healthy Eating for Gestational Surrogates

As a prospective gestational surrogate, you’ve had at least one successful pregnancy. You know that food cravings while pregnant are a very real phenomenon and you hopefully already have some ability to listen to your body. You likely have also been counseled before on proper nutrition during pregnancy.

Even so, being a gestational surrogate is different from having a child of your own. Depending on how long it’s been since your last pregnancy, you may have questions about which foods you should be emphasizing and which you should minimize. These are good questions to ask because, while you will be taking a special pregnancy supplement, it’s always best to obtain as much of your nutrition as possible directly from food.

At Global Surrogacy Services, we take surrogacy health and compensation seriously and do everything we can to ensure safe and healthy outcomes for everyone involved and your diet is a big part of that. What follows is some of what’s good to eat during pregnancy and a few suggestions about what to avoid.

Fish is the Dish!

Most experts consider fish and seafood the healthiest type of meat and it surely packs the biggest nutritional wallop. For starters, many types of fish are high in the omega-3 fatty acids needed to help build the baby’s nervous system and prevent birth defects. Other essential nutrients in fish and seafood include vitamin D, iron, zinc, iodine, and choline. Healthcare professionals typically recommend eight to 12 ounces per week of fish and other seafood during pregnancy.

On the other hand, Fish is highly recommended but not mandatory as these nutrients can be obtained elsewhere; vegetarian and vegan surrogates especially can make other arrangements to ensure complete nutrition. Moreover, it’s important to monitor your fish intake, especially when it comes to varieties that may be higher in mercury. This includes many types of tuna but also swordfish, shark, and some varieties of mackerel. (Check with your nutritionist if one of these is a favorite as the amount of mercury can vary greatly between different types of seafood.)

Most experts suggest more oily types of lower-mercury fish such as salmon and sardines that are tasty and often very inexpensive when canned. Trout, cod, catfish, shrimp, and scallops will usually cost more than canned fish but are similarly healthy. If you are allergic or simply have an aversion to seafood, talk to your doctor or nutritionist.

One last warning, as with all meat during pregnancy, seafood should be thoroughly cooked for safety. For lovers of Japanese cuisine, that removes sashimi (raw fish) from the menu. Fortunately, sushi enthusiasts can still partake of plates using fully cooked seafood such as cooked shrimp or baked salmon. However, you may want to let your sushi chef know that you are pregnant so they can make sure to cook the fish thoroughly.

Lean Meats

Skinless chicken and turkey, as well as lean cuts of beef, lamb, and pork all offer high protein and good overall nutrition while being reasonably low in calories – though it’s important to make sure they are always fully cooked. Personal tastes as well as ethical and religious matters will guide many people’s food choices. Vegans and vegetarians can take advantage of an ever-growing array of protein sources.

Unfortunately, many of us carnivorous folks consume more than our share of cold processed meats. While these meats will typically say “fully cooked” on the package, served cold they can cause food-borne illnesses during pregnancy. Moreover, you may have heard that these are far from the healthiest types of meat. Heavily processed deli meats and cold cuts include high sodium content and substances that may be carcinogenic, especially in excessive quantities. If you find yourself with a hot dog, bologna, or pastrami craving, try to make it in a modest proportion and cook the meat to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming it.

Dairy

Low-fat dairy, and especially yogurt, remains a solid nutritional choice as are limited amounts of cheese. Diary’s main nutritional attractions are protein and calcium, something you’ll need plenty of during pregnancy. Make sure, however, that dairy products are pasteurized to avoid potentially serious food-borne illnesses. This is not the time to experiment with raw milk!

Eggs

If any food has been thoroughly re-evaluated in recent years, it’s this. Once denigrated as a source of excess cholesterol, it turns out that the cholesterol in eggs does not increase the body’s production of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, they are highly nutritious and an excellent, inexpensive source of protein and vital omega-3 fatty acids. They are also low in saturated fat when boiled, poached, or microwaved and are typically only 70 calories per egg. Raw or undercooked eggs, however, do present a significant risk of salmonella poisoning. Stick with hard-boiled eggs and avoid any type of egg preparation that leaves runny areas such as over-easy or softly scrambled eggs. If you’re lucky and can find pasteurized eggs, you can be even safer.

Soy Based Proteins

While it is a staple for vegans and vegetarians, it’s not a bad idea for all of us to consume at least small amounts of foods such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy milk, and fresh soybeans (edamame). As usual, however, there are possible health concerns if eaten in excess, and soy-based meat imitations may be too high in sodium but, in moderate amounts, soy foods are believed to have many benefits. Also as usual, the less processed forms of soy are probably the best for health, and that includes tofu, miso, tempeh, soymilk, and, of course, actual soybeans (edamame).

Finally, just so there’s no confusion, soy sauce is just another salty condiment. It doesn’t count!

The Produce Aisle

Nearly everyone should be consuming more fruit and vegetables. At the same, fresh vegetables are some of the most common sources of foodborne illnesses so care is required: thoroughly rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables. This warning includes packaged products, even those that say “pre-rinsed. Home-cooked vegetables, on the other hand, are typically safe and healthy. Indeed, cooking foods such as spinach, tomatoes, and carrots may release added nutrients.

While it’s always possible to consume too much of a good thing, most of your diet really should consist of plants and most vegetables and fruits have plenty of benefits. Some of the healthiest include:

  • Legumes – Beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans/edamame, and nuts are rich in protein, fiber, folate, iron, calcium, as well as healthy fats in the case of nuts. They are also one of the healthiest sources of the carbohydrates that you need to consume during pregnancy. They are also essential for vegans and vegetarians to ensure they are getting enough of the right kinds of proteins. If you are on a special diet or have any allergies, discuss which and how much of these products to eat – and in what combinations – to ensure complete nutrition for you and the baby.
  • Potatoes – Despite all the bad publicity they get, a potato is, in fact, a vegetable. The primary issue is our tendency to deep fry them, salt them, and pair them in mass quantities with hot dogs and hamburgers. Baked, boiled, or steamed, they can be a great deal healthier. In fact, the lowly ‘tater contains potassium, B6, and vitamin C, and, if you eat them with skins, some fiber as well. Preparation aside, the second reason potatoes are not a favorite with nutritionists is that they have a high glycemic index which can help pave the way to gestational diabetes. So, watch your intake but an occasional boiled or baked potato – maybe using unsweetened low-fat yogurt or a yogurt dress instead of sour cream and butter – should do little harm.
  • Sweet potatoes – These have a better nutritional and glycemic profile than their paler cousins. Indeed, many experts think they are an especially good food to enjoy during pregnancy as they are good sources of fiber and high in beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A.
  • Rice and Grain – This one is simple: white bad, brown good! White rice and grains may be staples around the world, but they have poor glycemic and nutritional profiles. Brown rice and whole grains, on the other hand, contain far more fiber and beneficial nutrients. They may also be more filling.
  • Leafy Greens – You won’t be surprised when we say this is a category where it’s hard to go wrong if they are safely prepared – but you can go extra right if you stick with the choices richest in the nutrients needed during pregnancy. Some of the best choices include iron-rich spinach (especially when cooked), broccoli, and dark-colored types of lettuce.
  • Fruit – These are always your best dessert choice and are typically high in nutrition, including so-called micronutrients called flavonoids. Some, but not all, of the most pro-pregnancy fruits include apricots, berries, bananas, mangoes, guava, and avocadoes, which also offer healthy fats.
  • Pickles – This is a frequent craving for many pregnant people, and the good news is that it’s no junk food. Pickled cucumbers and other vegetables have few or no calories and are high in some of the most important nutrients. Unfortunately, they are also high in sodium – which can impact blood pressure, a frequent issue in pregnancy. Also, as with other uncooked vegetables, contamination may be an issue with freshly prepared pickles. Pickles in jars, especially ones high in vinegar, may be safer.
Desserts and Fast Food

You won’t be surprised when we say that these are the kinds of foods that should be limited the most, but the only treats that you need to completely eliminate are those desserts containing alcohol such as tiramisu and, as you might guess, rum balls. Other dishes made with alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer should be well cooked. It’s true that the cooking process drastically reduces the amount of alcohol in a dish, it takes some time for enough of it to burn off.

Foods like burgers, fries, fried chicken and chicken nuggets, pizza, and all the rest should obviously be limited as they contain a great many calories, saturated fats, sodium, and lots of simple carbohydrates. Even so, the occasional cheeseburger from a fast-food chain, for example, should not be harmful and the beef or turkey and cheese has its share of protein and calcium. It’s also better if you get your burger with the traditional lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and even pickles! It’s best, though, if you can satisfy your cravings by making your burgers at home where you can make your burger so that it has less fat and salt.

Are You a Prospective Surrogate with Questions?

If you have been considering becoming a gestational surrogate both for a sense of fulfillment and to improve your own life with financial compensation, the team at Global Surrogacy Services is here to answer your questions.

To find out more about whether becoming a gestational surrogate makes sense for you, please look at our page on surrogate mother requirements and perhaps fill out a form like the one on our “How to Become a Surrogate” page. Finally, you can reach out to Global Surrogacy Services by phone at the number on your screen.