Can I eat seafood when I’m pregnant?

I was recently meeting with a patient to discuss nutrition recommendations for Gestational Diabetes. In talking to the patient about her dietary habits, she revealed that she loves fish and seafood but has been avoiding these during her pregnancy because she didn’t think they were safe. Although I was seeing her for gestational diabetes, I quickly switched my topic of education to food safety during pregnancy. The truth is, there are a lot of benefits to eating fish while pregnant! As with many other nutrition topics, I think the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of pregnancy lead to a lot of confusion and many women cut out foods unnecessarily. Not all fish is safe during pregnancy, but there are plenty that can be safely consumed and provide critical nutrients to mom and baby!

I think the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of pregnancy lead to a lot of confusion and many women cut out foods unnecessarily.

YES! Tilapia, Cod, Salmon, Crab, Shrimp, Canned Light Tuna, Pollock and/or Catfish

8-12 oz. per week of Tilapia, Cod, Salmon, Crab, Shrimp, Canned Light Tuna, Pollock and/or Catfish can be safely eaten during pregnancy. Albacore or White Tuna is a little different than Canned Light Tuna, and 6 oz. weekly of this type of fish has been proven safe. Fish is packed with protein and iron, which are both needed in larger amounts during pregnancy. Oily fish like Salmon is dense in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is linked to brain growth and development for baby.

NO! Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Raw Fish

Fish to AVOID include: Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Raw Fish (sushi, ceviche, etc.).These types should be avoided due to the levels of Methyl Mercury that they can contain. Methyl Mercury has been linked to brain and kidney damage in the fetus.

With healthy eating in general, I recommend using the “Diabetes Plate Method” at meals to obtain nutrients from all food groups. While pregnant, swap chickenfood plate or beef with Salmon or Canned Light Tuna as a protein source twice per week to gain vital nutrients for you and baby!







Alana Scopel


Bouncing Back after Baby

There are some things that you just don’t quite fully understand until you experience it yourself. Many of you would agree that having a baby is at the top of that list. Like many women, I faced several challenges throughout my pregnancy including nausea, heartburn and intense cravings. When we came home from the hospital with our sweet Oliver, I practically had Google on speed dial since I had questions about EVERYTHING!  About a month later, I finally began to feel like myself again and had the same thought that every new mom has eventually…how will I get my pre-pregnancy body back? Here are some things I have learned about body after baby.

Bouncing Back After Baby

photos by Kaitlin Powell Photography and Designs

For starters, I would encourage you to let nature take the lead. Counting calories can be stressful. Counting calories with a newborn would be a nightmare, so I highly recommend that you do not take this route (unless you are having difficulties maintaining a healthy weight). Women who are breastfeeding also have increased nutrient needs and many calorie counting apps do not take this into consideration when estimating calorie goals. Most resources agree that breastfeeding requires an extra 300-500 calories above what resting metabolic needs are but it’s not uncommon for a breastfeeding mom to require even more calories than this. Mom’s activity level, body fat percent and baby’s feeding intake (think how this changes with growth spurts) can all influence how many additional calories are needed.  

Prego Figge

Try to return to your normal eating habits as quickly as possible. This took a couple of weeks for me. I found that I had Oliver glued to my chest and struggled with balancing time for grocery shopping, cooking and meal planning. I was relying more on processed foods with added sugars which ultimately made me feel like garbage. Once my eggs, fish, chicken and veggies found their way back into my belly, my mood, energy level and tummy all became much happier campers.

Make sure that you are not comparing yourself to other post-partum women. One of my guilty pleasures is those celebrity magazines you find at the check-out lane at the grocery store. New mom celebrities always make headlines with how great their bodies look just weeks after delivery. Access to personal chefs, full-time nannies and in-home training sessions is simply not a reality to us ‘everyday Janes’. Believe me, you can still achieve bikini-bod results again, it may just take a little while longer than our celeb gal pals. In addition to celebs, try your hardest not to compare yourself to your other new-mommy friends. How you carried your baby, when you gained your weight during pregnancy, energy level and hormones are just a few of the hundred factors that affect how the pregnancy weight comes off.

Be smart about returning to exercise. If you know me, you know how much I value physical activity; however, early postpartum Amanda didn’t have one lick of interest in going back to the gym. I have friends who were back to jogging a couple weeks postpartum and here I found myself sore for a whole day after taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You have got to listen to your body and understand that now is not the time to push it. It just performed a miraculous feat for you and pushing it too hard, too soon can delay your recovery time. On the flip side, once my body had completely recovered (after about 8 weeks), I did make it back to the gym and boy did that endorphin rush feel good again!

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Everyone told me that a baby will change you. They’re right. A baby does change a lot of things, but it didn’t change my core values of health. I know how valuable my kitchen and barbells are in my life and once they became part of my routine again, my body began to bounce back to its original shape. To maximize time with my family, I switched up my gym routine and even purchased more equipment to do workouts at home. Sundays became big meal prep days so I could spend more of my weeknight evenings playing with my little guy. While body after baby is a little softer and curvier, I remind myself of the great story it now tells. 

Amanda Figge

Just for Moms: Breastfeeding Pep Talk

While you are reading my post today, I should be on maternity leave with baby #3. What a blessing children can be, but also a lot of work. Something that can take a lot of work as a new mom or experienced mom is breastfeeding. My plan is to breastfeed baby #3 like I did with my first two, but you never know. My previous two experiences breastfeeding were completely different from each other.

We have been told over and over that the breast is always best, so you think it would come naturally and easy to breastfeed, but I can tell you from personal experience it is not.

We have been told over and over again that the breast is always best, so you think it would come naturally and be easy to breastfeed, but I can tell you from personal experience, it is not. There are numerous studies pointing to the nutritional and health benefits of breast milk: reduced risk of illness, decreased rate of obesity, reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, as well as improved maternal outcomes for reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression and some forms of cancer. However, sometimes breastfeeding isn’t possible. This may be due to not producing enough milk, baby not latching, pain during breastfeeding, medical conditions in mother or baby, not enough support or a mother chooses not to breastfeed. 

If you decide to breastfeed and are struggling, reach out for support. I had a lot of problems breastfeeding my first child and spent many of hours with lactation consultants. One of our very own Springfield Clinic dietitians, Alana Scopel, is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She can assist first-time moms, in addition to moms who had breastfed previously but encountered problems with their newest baby. Seeking out other lactation consultants/breastfeeding support groups at your local hospital/doctor office, La Leche League, or experienced breastfeeding mom friends are other options. We as moms need to educate ourselves on the support that is available.

Additionally, if you decide to breastfeed, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Here are recommendations and tricks I’ve tried throughout my time breastfeeding.

  1. Drink plenty of water. That is easier said than done. I stash water bottles all over the house, car, diaper bag and pump bag. Some days it only seems I can get water when I have an opportunity to sit down and nurse, so make sure there is water there to drink when you get a chance. The key to remember is that your water intake affects your milk production. I can tell you first hand it does.
  2. Get plenty of rest. Yeah right!!! Remember, some rest is better than nothing. The dishes, laundry and housecleaning can wait. With my second child, I would set alarms on my phone as a reminder to myself to sit down even for a few minutes to rest.
  3. Continue taking your prenatal vitamins. You still need all those nutrients when lactating. These vitamins not only help you, but help baby. I keep the prenatal vitamin bottle visible on the kitchen counter or on my night stand to remind me to take them.
  4. You still need extra calories. I know, I know…we want to get the baby weight off. The old saying is, it took nine months to put the weight on, don’t expect it to come off tomorrow. Remember that with work and time the weight will come off, but for now you need those extra calories for milk production. The key to remember is where you are getting those extra calories from. Getting extra calories from sweets is not the same as getting the extra calories from lean protein, dairy, whole grains, and fruits/vegetables. If you have questions about what you should be eating during pregnancy or postpartum, don’t be afraid to ask any of the Springfield Clinic dietitians.

Whatever choice we as mothers make, whether to breastfeed or formula feed, it is the right decision for us and our babies. We should never be made to feel guilty about our choice or circumstance. Being happy is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and our baby, and if that means breastfeeding and/or formula feeding, then that’s the best choice.

Megan Klemm

How to Combat Picky Eaters

I’ve often heard, “My child is so picky! He won’t eat anything!” This can be very frustrating for parents and can lead them down a road of constant struggles. It is important to remember that children’s food likes and dislikes change as they continue to grow and develop. As a parent or caregiver, it is your responsibility to lead your child to the table for meals, but you cannot make them eat. Children should learn to develop their own “hungry” and “full” signals. This means that we should allow their appetite to guide what foods they choose at meals and how much.

How to combat picky eaters

Ellyn Satter, dietitian, therapist, and author, is well-known to parents and professionals as an expert in pediatric nutrition. Satter separates mealtimes into 2 categories:

Parent’s feeding jobs:

  • Choose and prepare the food
  • Provide regular meals and snacks
  • Make eating times pleasant
  • Show children by example how to behave at mealtime
  • Be considerate of children’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes
  • Offer no food or beverages (except water) between meal and snack times
  • Let children grow to develop bodies that are right for them

Children’s eating jobs:

  • Children will eat
  • Children will eat the amount they need
  • They will learn to eat the food their parents eat
  • They will grow predictably
  • They will learn to behave well at mealtime

Satter states that when parents feed accordingly, children gradually accumulate attitudes and behaviors that characterize adult Eating Competence. With Eating Competence, children can feel good about eating and they have the drive to eat. They naturally eat the amount of food that they need and grow in a way that is appropriate for them.

Try these tips to make the most of Any Mealtime…

Develop a meal and snack routine. It is important that children take time to eat their meal or snack by sitting at the table without distractions. This allows them to enjoy their food and gives them sufficient time to explore tastes and textures.

When introducing new foods, it is important to remember that this is a skill that children learn gradually. It generally takes time and repeated exposure for a child to learn to eat new foods. To learn to eat a new food, children watch adults eat. They will generally look, touch, taste, and spit out new foods. New foods may have to be presented 15-20 times before a child learns to eat it. Patience is key!

Children can also be engaged in healthy food purchases at the store. While picking out foods, explain why that food is healthy for our bodies. The more involved children are with food, the more likely they will be to try and adopt these foods.

Lastly, children love new things. Consider special bowls or eating utensils that will make their dining experience special and exciting!

Alana Scopel

Interested in learning more?

Join us for Doctor Is In, a free lecture open to the public  on Wednesday, February 3rd featuring three Springfield Clinic dietitians.

  • Time: 6:30pm
  • Location: Springfield Clinic Main Campus EAST, 2nd Floor ASC waiting area
    1025 S 6th St, Springfield

Register today!


Fueling a Fall Sports Athlete: Part 2

Last week I talked about how important hydration for athletes, and this week I’ll go over power foods that will fuel the body for optimal performance. 

Fueling a Fall Sports Athlete- Part 2

Two key players in an athlete’s diet are carbs and protein. Ideally, the two should often be consumed hand-in-hand. While fat is still incredibly important in the diet, carbs and protein work together to fuel and recover working muscles.

Carbohydrates help open up cell doors to allow glucose and amino acids into the muscles. Athletes need a consistent source of carbs in the diet to maintain adequate muscle glycogen stores. Sources of carbs can include: vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes, beans, rice, oats, as well as other grains such as pasta, cereal and bread. Try to focus on more natural sources of carbs and less on processed, sugar-sweetened carbs.

Protein assists with muscle growth and repair. It stimulates synthesis and growth within the muscle and can prevent excessive breakdown and degradation of the muscle fibers and tissue. Protein can be found in meats, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, peanut butter and additionally in supplements such as protein powder and bars.

Athletes should strive to eat every 2-4 hours. Consistent protein intake throughout the day can assist with good blood sugar control. This will help prevent any midday crashes in blood sugars and energy levels as well as properly fuel an athlete for an after-school practice or game. Prior to a big sporting event, it’s best for the athlete to consume familiar foods consisting of quick digesting carbs and lean proteins. High fat or high fiber foods may be too slow to digest and can cause an upset stomach when exercising. It would be recommended for an athlete to avoid pizza or fried foods immediately before a sporting event.

Eating protein and carbs within 30 minutes after a heavy workout or game will provide the greatest benefits to recovering muscles. During this period of time, there is increased blood flow to the muscles creating a better opportunity for nutrients to be absorbed. The enzymes that produce glycogen are also most active during this time frame so your muscles can quickly replenish their energy stores. Try to shoot for a goal of 15-45 grams of protein with a carbohydrate source as your recovery snack/meal.

Examples of recovery protein can include:

  • 3 eggs/6 egg whites
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 ounces chicken, meat, fish
  • 3 ounces hard cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • Protein bar
  • 1 scoop of protein powder

Carbs can be enjoyed from fruit, sweet potatoes, rice, unsweetened cereal, whole grains, milk or a combination of foods! I recently gave a sports nutrition presentation to a local football team and made these Peanut Butter Energy Bites. They were gobbled up instantaneously!

Peanut Butter Energy Bites
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  1. • 1 cup dry, old-fashioned oats
  2. • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  3. • ½ cup peanut butter
  4. • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  5. • ½ cup chocolate chips
  6. • 1/3 cup honey
  7. • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Stir all ingredients on low in a mixing bowl. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Once chilled, roll into whatever size balls you prefer (1 ½ inch diameter is a good goal). If not consumed immediately, they can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container and will be good for up to 1 week.
Something to Chew

Amanda  Figge

Fueling a Fall Sports Athlete: Part 1

One big downfall many athletes have is a lack of knowledge on proper hydration. Hydration, just like good nutrition, is important 24 hours a day, not just on game days!

Woohoo! It’s just about time for hoodies, camp fires and fall sports! Whether you are a recreational athlete or serious competitor, good nutrition and proper hydration can provide you with that competitive edge over your opponents. While some athletes may require more specific guidance with nutrition choices to help enhance their performance, a general appreciation for fueling and recovering is what most of our athletes need.


One big downfall many athletes have is a lack of knowledge on proper hydration. Hydration, just like good nutrition, is important 24 hours a day, not just on game days! In fact, water makes up 75% of our muscle tissue. If muscles are not adequately hydrated, then their performance begins to suffer, meaning your agility, sprint time, power, strength and even decision-making skills could all decline. Dehydration can occur with inadequate fluid intake and excessive fluid loss through sweat, breath and urine. If you’re curious about the science between hydration and muscle performance, here is my rough breakdown.

  • With prolonged sweating, your body’s heart rate increases and blood volume decreases.
  • This causes an increase in your core temperature.
  • Which then decreases cardiovascular function, meaning less O2 is being delivered to your working muscles.
  • This also results in a slowing of the removal of waste products from the blood stream.
  • A build-up of metabolic waste and dehydrated muscles cells = fatigue and cramping!

Hydrating the Athlete

  • Drink 8-20 oz of water an hour before workout /game.
  • Consume 4-8 oz of water every 15 minutes during workout /game.
  • Rehydrate with 16-24 oz of water for every pound of sweat lost after workout/game.
  • If you’re exercising for less than an hour, then water is a suitable hydration choice. However, if you’re working out longer than an hour or know you are a salty sweater, you may want to consider an electrolyte-based beverage.
  • Your urine color can serve as a good indicator of hydration. It should always be a clear/light yellow color. Darker urine may indicate your body is not being properly hydrated.

Amanda  Figge