Are you pregnant and not sure what to eat? I got you covered. Here are the best tips on a healthy diet to help you nourish both you and your baby throughout the entire pregnancy.
When you are pregnant you feel you’re eating for two. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry every pregnant woman has cravings. You can’t avoid eating and drinking, but you have to keep in mind that everything you eat and drink directly impacts your fetus.
You know you should eat healthy, whether you are pregnant or not. You should at least eat healthier when you are expecting. This is recommended so that you stay healthy (the last thing you want is to get sick) and also so that your fetus gets the necessary nutrients for growth and development.
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You just want that perfect pregnancy diet to keep you and your baby healthy and help you NOT gain too much weight.
But you may get confused with so much conflicting information out there: eat this, don’t eat that. And if you add the nausea that most pregnant women get then you really need some help. I’ll try to make it easier and help you choose what’s best for you. Deal?!
PREGNANCY DIET – EATING FOR TWO
You ‘re always starving or craving. I was the same. Twix was a normal snack for me. I gained 50 lbs while pregnant. Yikes! But gaining too much weight during pregnancy can be very risky. You may get high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Any additional calories that are required during pregnancy should come from high nutrient foods.
PREGNANCY DIET – DEALING WITH NAUSEA
My nausea was usually triggered by smell and taste. Perfumes really made me sick. I felt like all my senses were exacerbated, and they were indeed. Almost 75% of pregnant women deal with nausea triggered by taste or smell, and that’s because of all the changes in brain activity during pregnancy. It’s another way of your body protecting your baby from any potential harm.
PREGNANCY DIET – DEALING WITH CRAVINGS
I just mentioned earlier I was craving for Twix every day. How’s that for a healthy diet?! Pregnant women crave for the weirdest things. I’ve heard pickles, watermelons, ice cream and so on. You should enjoy and eat what your body craves for. But, yes there’s a but, don’t listen to those crazy cravings for junk food. Gain weight in a healthy way!
KEY NUTRIENTS DURING PREGNANCY
Folic acid is a B vitamin and it’s important in preventing birth defects in the brain and spinal cord. It’s very hard to get the necessary amount of folic acid from diet alone, so as a pregnant woman you should intake a recommended dose of 600 micrograms of folic acid supplement per day.
Women who are trying to conceive should start taking folic acid even before they get pregnant as a precaution. Folate deficiency has been linked to low birth weight and risk of neural tube defects.
FOLIC ACID FOOD: leafy veggies, asparagus, broccoli, enriched cereals, pastas and breads, beans, citrus.
Calcium is a mineral that maintains healthy bones and teeth. You should consume enough calcium for both you and your baby, otherwise, your body will automatically withdraw necessary calcium from you and transfer it to your baby to satisfy the extra demands.
Vitamin D is as important as calcium and has the same benefits. The recommended dose of calcium for pregnant women is between 1000 – 1,300 mg per day.
CALCIUM IN FOOD: kale, salmon, yogurt, milk, cheese.
Because you are pregnant, you need double iron, meaning 27 mg per day. During pregnancy, more blood is necessary to supply your baby with oxygen. Iron also helps build the placenta. Be aware that low iron may lead to anemia which is a medical condition describing fatigue and poses great risks of infections.
IRON IN FOOD: iron-fortified cereals, beans and peas, fish, poultry.
Protein helps build important organs for your baby like the brain and heart. You definitely DON’T want to be deficient in protein. It is also a great way to prevent preeclampsia, high blood pressure, swelling or premature labor.
PROTEIN IN FOOD: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, beans, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds.
PREGNANCY DIET – WHAT TO EAT DURING PREGNANCY
As a pregnant woman you should eat healthy foods. Easier said than done right? So what does ‘eating healthy’ mean? Well, you should have a diet rich in fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products.
The first and second trimesters are vital so make sure you have a nutritious intake at least during those times. Fruits and veggies should be the focus of your diet because they provide you with all the goodies like fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Your pregnancy diet should contain:
You need to eat high-quality protein like beef, chicken and pork because they give you the necessary iron, choline and B vitamins that you need during pregnancy.
TIP – You can help increase absorption of iron from meals by eating foods rich in vitamin C like oranges or bell peppers.
Whole grains provide energy (you so need that energy), fiber, iron and vitamin B, so they help you meet your increased calorie requirements during your pregnancy. Examples include oatmeal, oats, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.
This is a great choice during your pregnancy. You need dairy products because they contain casein and whey. Dairy is the best source of calcium and high amounts of phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Examples include: milk, yogurt (Greek yogurt, probiotic bacteria for digestive health) and cheese are good sources of calcium protein and vitamin D.
Avocados are fruits with a ton of monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, B vitamins, vitamins K, C and E, copper, and potassium. For these reasons, they make the perfect choice for your pregnancy diet. All the healthy fats found in avocados help your fetus build healthy skin, bones and tissues. Did you know that avocados have more potassium than bananas? So they may actually prevent your leg cramps while pregnant.
You will like these. They ‘re sweet, aren’t they? They are also rich in beta-carotene, which our body converts it into vitamin A and supports cell and tissue health. Sweet potatoes contain fiber which improves digestive health. and because you may experience bloating or constipation while you are pregnant you may want to stock up on the sweet potatoes.
Salmon is an essential source of omega-3 fatty acids and a natural source of vitamin D, which supports bones and immunity. Your immunity is very important when you are expecting a baby. The last thing you want is to get sick. You want to be in perfect shape so your baby can grow and develop properly in your womb. Omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA and EPA, are crucial during pregnancy. You find them in seafood. Be careful though not to consume too much of this due to mercury.
Eggs are packed with protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and choline. Choline is important for brain development. Low choline intake may pose great risk for the baby’s brain function. The recommended choline dose for pregnant women is 450 mg daily and 1 egg has 113 mg. This should convince you eggs made a very good choice for your pregnancy diet.
Kale and spinach are good examples. They have fiber, vitamins K, C and A, calcium, iron, potassium and folate. Should I mention they are great antioxidants?! Because they contain plant compounds they help immunity and digestion (prevents constipation, a common early pregnancy symptom).
Berries are an absolute source of water, good carbs, vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. Because they contain vitamin C they help you absorb iron better. Furthermore, vitamin C helps your skin and immunity. And if you’re worried about your sugar intake, don’t be. Berries have low sugar levels, so they could be a nutritious snack.
Last but not least, by far the most important: water. When you are pregnant you have to drink more water because your blood volume increases. Your fetus will automatically get all that is needed, but if you don’t drink enough there won’t be any resources left for you. You don’t want to end up dehydrated. Watch for signs of anxiety, headaches or fatigue (well that’s kind of a common pregnancy symptom). All of these may point to mild dehydration.
As constipation being common during pregnancy, drinking a lot of water may help you with that. It is recommended that pregnant women drink approximately 68 ounces per day. Remember that you also intake water from other foods and beverages that you consume throughout the day. When you’re thirsty drink water.
*I don’t recommend dried fruits. I know they provide you with the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruits and they may seem like the perfect snack, but let me tell you: they are death for your teeth. Here’s the dental hygienist in me speaking again. But it’s so true. They’re like gummies. They stick to your teeth. It’s just sugar sitting in your mouth and that, of course, means decay.
Don’t spend your entire pregnancy on counting calories though. And even if you do gain weight (everybody does) you will have plenty of time or actually you won’t have time to eat after you give birth. Joke aside, I was trying to say you will have plenty of time to lose the weight. Mainly if you plan on breastfeeding.
Gain weight in a healthy way! And don’t forget to take your prenatals!
Until next time,