Keep watch on pregnancy pounds

160498927My daughter-in-law is pregnant but doesn’t seem to be gaining much weight. She is pleased, but I’m concerned. Should I be?

You don’t say how far along in her pregnancy your daughter-in-law is, but you should know that doctors generally recommend women gain only 1 to 4 pounds total during the first three months, and then 2 to 4 pounds per month until birth.

However, guidance varies depending on the circumstances. For example, teens who are pregnant are encouraged to gain more weight, as their own bodies are still developing. And a woman’s pre-pregnancy weight plays a major role: According to the Insitute of Medicine, women at a normal weight for their height should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Underweight women should gain more, 28 to 40 pounds. Overweight women should gain less, 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women should limit weight gain to 11 to 20 pounds.

Gaining a proper amount of weight during pregnancy — not too much and not too little — is good for both mother and baby. It will decrease the chance of premature birth and Caesarean section, and increases the chance of a healthy newborn. In addition, gaining too much weight during pregnancy often causes long-term weight problems, not only for mom but for the child as well.

That’s why “eating for two” is a horrible misnomer. Most women need only about 300 additional calories per day during pregnancy. For the most part, those calories should be nutrient-rich choices, from whole grains, lean protein and dairy, fruits, vegetables, and healthful fats. It’s especially important for pregnant women to get enough folic acid (400 micrograms a day), iron (27 milligrams a day) and calcium (1,000 milligrams a day) for a healthy pregnancy.

There are plenty of resources to help guide your daughter-in-law to eat right for both herself and her baby. A good place to start is the National Institutes of Health “MedlinePlus” website, Just type “Pregnancy and Nutrition” in the search engine and you’ll find reliable information from a myriad of resources, including the National Academy of Dietetics, the Mayo Clinic, the Nemours Foundation and the March of Dimes.

The most important concern is to make sure your daughter-in-law is getting proper prenatal care. As long as she’s seeing her doctor regularly, and they both are keeping an eye on her weight gain and other health issues, you can rest easy.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or


Keep hard-boiled eggs refrigerated

86483922When I was little, my parents hid my Easter basket before they went to bed so I could hunt for it Easter morning. The basket always contained at least one hard-boiled egg. Now we’re told we shouldn’t leave hard-boiled eggs out overnight. There was never a problem before. Why the change?

First, let’s be clear: It’s never been a good idea to keep any perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours. You can count yourself lucky that you never got sick eating those eggs.

Or, it’s possible you did get sick and never associated the illness with Easter eggs. Some types of foodborne illness take days to develop. You might have mistakenly associated an illness with something you had eaten more recently, or even to a flu bug.

In any case, please set your skepticism aside and pay attention to the experts. Why? Foodborne pathogens thrive in protein-rich foods (like eggs) and can multiply rapidly between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Just a few cells can proliferate enough to cause illness.

It’s true that when eggs are properly cooked, any bacteria on the shell or lurking inside the egg are killed. But boiling the egg also removes a natural protective coating on the outside of the shell provided by the hen when she lays the egg. When that coating is lost, the shell is more porous, and it’s easier for bacteria to enter the egg simply through regular handling.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has a detailed FAQ about egg safety available at It includes information such as:

  • Hard-boiled eggs spoil faster than raw eggs because of the loss of the outer protective coating during cooking. They should be consumed within a week, while properly refrigerated raw eggs are good for three to five weeks.
  • Fresher eggs are harder to peel when hard-cooked than older eggs. The reason is that an air cell in the large end of the egg between the shell and the membrane grows larger the longer the raw egg is stored. Older eggs float in water because the air cell is bigger.
  • Don’t worry if a green ring forms on a hard-cooked yolk. It’s caused by sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting on the yolk’s surface, often because of overcooking. It could also be caused by high iron in the cooking water. It’s perfectly safe to consume.

Know how many calories you need

83252906I always thought almost everyone should eat about 2,000 calories a day, because that’s what is listed on Nutrition Facts labels. But my doctor told me almost no one should eat 2,000 calories a day. Can you clarify this?

The number of calories you should consume each day is personalized, as much as it can be, according to your age, your sex and your activity level.

Calorie recommendations for adults range from a low of 1,600 calories a day for sedentary women 51 or older, to a high of 3,000 calories a day for active men from 19 to 35.

Even though the standard of 2,000 calories a day is appropriate for only a few groups — including sedentary men who are 61 or older and moderately active women between 31 and 50 — it’s not a bad standard to base Nutrition Facts information on. That number (2,000 calories) really only affects the percentages listed under the label’s “Daily Values” for fats, carbohydrates and fiber. Since the actual content (in grams) of those food components is also listed, it’s relatively easy for a person who uses the label to make decisions about their diet to make adjustments accordingly.

For example, if you’re a moderately active 40-year-old man who is in a healthy weight range, your calorie intake should be about 2,600 calories a day. Since fat, carbohydrate and fiber intake are based on that higher calorie level, you know you can aim for more than 100 percent of the Daily Value of those items over the course of the day — 130 percent, in fact, since 2,600 calories is 130 percent of 2,000 calories.

All that detail aside, the bigger point is that everyone should know about how many calories they should be eating each day. To find your level, see the chart from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, posted online at

To determine how active you are — a key element in figuring out your calorie level — use these guidelines:

  • “Active” means you engage in physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles a day at a rate of 3 to 4 miles per hour.
  • “Moderately active” means your physical activity averages the equivalent of walking 1.5 to 3 miles a day at the same pace.
  • “Sedentary” means you generally don’t engage in daily physical activity beyond that associated with day-to-day life.

For more about physical activity, see this Health and Human Services fact sheet:

Paleo diet has pros and cons

149153243A lot of my friends seem to be trying the Paleo diet these days. Is the diet safe and sound?

Most mainstream nutritionists hesitate giving their stamp of approval to any diet that eliminates entire food groups from the menu, and that’s what this diet does. But it can offer some benefits.

For anyone who has been, well, living in a cave since this diet debuted, here are the basics: The Paleolithic diet, which also goes by names like the Caveman diet or the Stone Age diet, purports that the human body is programmed to respond well to a diet much like the one eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Details vary among proponents, but, for the most part, “in” foods include fresh meat, fish and shellfish, poultry, eggs, fats (including lard), vegetables (some versions allow potatoes), and fruit. “Out” are salt, sugar, processed foods, dairy foods, beans and other legumes, and grains — even whole grains.

You can probably see where this is going.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a nutrition professional who would shed a tear at eliminating processed foods, salt and sugar from the diet. And they would delight at the emphasis on vegetables, fruit, fish, lean meat and other whole foods.

But many question the injunctions against dairy, legumes and whole grains. While Paleo diet supporters blame these foods for food allergies, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a long list of other afflictions, mainstream nutritionists can point to study after study showing that these foods are beneficial parts of a normal, healthy diet. Plus, they doubt that most people could stick with the restrictive diet for very long.

In addition, the heavy emphasis on protein is a source of concern for some. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that protein intake be anywhere from 10 percent to 35 percent of calories. Those following the Paleo diet could easily go over the top of that range, which could overload the kidneys. Similarly, the diet’s lack of concern about saturated fat tends to raise eyebrows.

Still, if you’re trying to lose weight, the Paleo diet has shown promise, primarily in small studies published in European journals. And a 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine involving nearly 800 people showed that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet with a low glycemic index, similar to the Paleo diet, helped subjects lose more weight and keep it off. Still, other studies have shown that it’s calorie restriction overall and the ability to stick to a diet that truly make the difference.

It’s important to remember that different diets affect different people in different ways. But if you decide to try the Paleo diet or make other extreme changes to your usual food intake, first see your doctor.

What to do about mold on cheese

153987583We had a nice weekend getaway a while back and brought home some artisan cheese we found in a local shop. Today I saw some mold on it. Can I just cut the mold away or is the whole block of cheese unsafe?

It sounds like the cheese you’re talking about is a hard cheese (not something soft, like cream cheese). If that’s the case, you likely can still look forward to enjoying it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has a detailed fact sheet on mold online at Scroll down to the end and you’ll find a chart that lists all sorts of foods and what to do if you find mold on them.

Fortunately, mold spores generally can’t penetrate deeply into hard cheese. So, just cut the mold off, at least one inch around and below the mold spot. When you do, be sure to keep the knife away from the mold — you don’t want to re-contaminate areas that haven’t been affected. For the same reason, use fresh wrap to cover the cheese when done.

Soft cheeses aren’t so lucky. If they get moldy, just throw them out.

As you probably know, some cheeses are actually made with mold. Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie and Camembert all use mold as part of the manufacturing process, and obviously they’re safe to eat. But other types of mold can invade, causing problems even on those cheeses. If you see mold that’s not supposed to be there, follow the rules above: for hard cheese, cut around it by at least an inch; for soft cheese, pitch it.

You can prolong the life of many types of cheese by storing them in a cold (at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit) freezer instead of the refrigerator. Hard cheeses can be frozen for six to eight weeks without losing quality; processed cheese can be frozen for up to six months. Even Camembert, Roquefort and blue cheese can be frozen for up to three months. For details on how to properly freeze foods for maximum quality, see Ohio State University Extension’s “Freezer Storage” fact sheet available to download at

Although most types of mold prefer warmer temperatures, some types — as you’ve discovered first-hand — can grow in the refrigerator, too. To reduce the chance, clean the inside of your refrigerator every few months with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water. Rinse with fresh water and dry. If you see visible mold on rubber casings, clean with a solution of a tablespoon of bleach in a quart of water.