Choosing the best foods for pregnancy is an important part of your prenatal journey. When you’re expecting a new baby, you want to make sure that you’re getting the best nutrition possible. Of course you want your baby to get all of the nutrients he or she needs to have a healthy start! But if we’re being honest, a lot of us don’t have diets that are necessarily hitting all of the marks we’d like when it comes to nutrition.
Having a healthy, balanced diet is important throughout your life, but probably never more so than when you are pregnant.
Pregnancy is a great time to focus on making healthy changes to your diet.
What better time to focus on a healthy diet than during your pregnancy? This post will go over some of the best foods for pregnancy, so you can make healthy choices for you and your baby.
When I’m talking about diet during pregnancy, I’m not talking about dieting with a goal of losing weight. Dieting to lose weight during pregnancy can pose risks to you and your baby, since a diet plan can restrict nutrients that are really important to your growing baby.
Making sure that you’re getting all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need during pregnancy can be a challenge. You’ll need more nutrients than the amount your body usually requires, and common issues like nausea, particularly during the first trimester, can make it even harder to ensure that you’re getting enough of what your body needs.
During the later parts of your pregnancy you may need around 300 extra calories a day to support your growing child. Of course, you’ll want these calories to come in the form of healthy foods, not just the extra cake that you’re craving!
While it’s important to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, you want to make sure that you’re eating a thoughtful and balanced diet that is rich in the right kids of nutrients. Taking care to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy serves not only your baby, but also your own health.
A healthy diet can decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, and can reduce the chances of pregnancy or birth complications. It will also make it easier for you to take off weight after the baby is born.
By choosing a diet rich in essentials vitamins and nutrients during your pregnancy, you’re setting yourself and your baby up for a healthier outcome.
15 Pregnancy Superfoods You Should Incorporate Into Your Prenatal Diet
The 15 best foods for pregnancy listed below are among the “superfoods” of pregnancy. By eating a wide array of foods, and selecting heavily from the list below, you will be setting yourself up to meet your nutritional needs during this important time.
Lean meats, such as chicken, lean beef, lamb, turkey and veal, offer a lot for pregnant women. Lean meats are high in iron, which is essential for helping your baby develop his red blood supply as well as strengthen the neural connections in his developing brain. Iron also helps you to stave off anemia, which is a common issue during pregnancy (this is because your blood volume increases by as much as 50%)!
You don’t need a massive amount of meat – just add a little to a well-rounded plate. Shoot for 3 servings a day to get the protein you need. Bonus: foods that are high in protein will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you from feeling hungry. The amino acids in protein are critical – they are the building blocks of all of the cells in your body, as well as the body of your baby.
Vegetarians can still get the iron-rich foods they need by focusing on dark leafy greens, cooked dried beans, lentils, tofu, quinoa, and even dried fruit.
Legumes – such as lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts – are an important part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Legumes are an excellent source of many nutrients, notably folate.
You’ve probably heard about folate (or folic acid in a supplement form) if you’re pregnant. This is because folate may reduce the risk of certain birth defects, such as neural tube defects and low birth weight. Without sufficient folate your child may be more susceptible to infections and disease later in life.
Folic acid is an important supplement for pregnant women, as most pregnant women do not consume enough in their diet. Even if you’re taking a supplement, it’s a great idea to incorporate legumes into your diet. Not only are they high in folic acid, they are also rich in protein, iron, and calcium. These are all important for your body during pregnancy.
Salmon is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are critical for your baby’s brain and eye development in utero.
Pregnant women are sometimes concerned about eating fish, because they want to avoid mercury. While some seafood is high in mercury and should be avoided, the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA recommend eating 2-3 meals of fatty fish, like wild salmon, a week. A serving size is approximately the size of the palm of your hand.
For more information on what’s safe when it comes to eating fish, you can read the FDA’s advice for pregnant women.
Dairy products are important for pregnant women, and yogurt (especially greek yogurt) tops the list as a healthy food to include in your pregnancy diet.
Your protein and calcium needs are higher during pregnancy, and yogurt can help you meet your body’s demand to support your growing baby.
Oats are rich in fiber, iron, Vitamin B and lots of other minerals. You can eat them in a bowl, and go ahead and add them to lots of other foods, like muffins or pancakes.
Avocado is delicious and filling. You can incorporate lots of healthy vitamins into your diet by eating avocado. It’s full of folate, potassium, and vitamins C and B. These vitamins help promote healthy tissue and brain growth in your baby. They also have the added bonus of relieving morning sickness.
Berries are helpful for pregnant women in terms of both providing important nutrients, and increasing water intake. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and healthy carbs.
Including berries as a snack – or mixed with some Greek yogurt, is an easy easy (and tasty) way to help your body get the array of nutrients it needs during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, particularly in the second and third trimester, your body has increased caloric needs. Whole grains are a healthy way to meet these needs. Whole grains are full of fiber and vitamins, and are rich in vitamin B and magnesium. All of these are important for pregnant women.
Consider spreading some avocado on a piece of whole grain bread for a nutritious snack or even a meal. You could also try a bowl of fortified cereal for breakfast, or a sandwich for lunch made with whole-wheat bread. Whole wheat pasta is an easy substitute for your regular spaghetti. Making small changes like this can help keep you on track without too much extra effort.
Lightly salted edamame is delicious, and it make an excellent snack for pregnant women. Edamame is full of protein, calcium, and folate, as well as vitamins A and B.
Eggs contain so many different nutrients, and they’re super easy to work into your diet. Whole eggs are extremely nutritious. They also contain choline, which is an essential nutrient for your baby’s brain development.
Consider starting your day with a few whole eggs, along with some berries and yogurt. Add a slice of whole grain bread, and you’re off to a great start.
Broccoli and Dark Leafy Greens
Broccoli and other dark, leafy greens are good for lots of reasons. They are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium.
Leafy greens are also useful in combating constipation, which is a common issue for pregnant women.
Nuts are a “superfood” that are high in lots of important minerals. Yes they are high in fat, but it’s the “good fat” that you don’t need to worry about. They are a quick snack and a great way to round out a balanced diet, especially during pregnancy.
Carrots + Peppers
We all know that we should eat a lot of vegetables. During pregnancy it’s especially important to eat your veggies – and carrots and peppers in particular are great choices. This is because both are high in beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in the development of your baby’s eyes, skin, bones and organs.
Sweet potatoes are another good source of beta-carotene and vitamin A. In addition to the importance for your baby’s developing organs, sweet potatoes are also a good source of fiber. Fiber gives you a feeling a fullness, and it can also help improve your overall digestive health.
Mangos are high in vitamins A and C. They also contain magnesium, which can help alleviate leg cramps (a common complaint of pregnant women). You can simply cut up fresh mango and enjoy it that way, but it’s also good to keep in mind for for salsas, or blended into smoothies and soups.
I hope this list of the best foods for pregnancy helps you make healthy choices over these next few months!
And finally – you should also be drinking a lot of water! Due to the fact that your blood volume increases during pregnancy, it’s crucial to make sure that you stay adequately hydrated.
Drinking enough water will also help you minimize issues with constipation and urinary tract infections, both of which are common during pregnancy.
Final note: In addition to eating a diet rich in essential nutrients, a prenatal vitamin is also important during pregnancy. The main source of your nutrition should come from your diet, but a prenatal vitamin can help supplement what you might be missing. You should begin taking a prenatal vitamin up to three months before you conceive, if at all possible.
You might also want to check out the best baby products for new moms. These are the must-have items that I recommend to all my friends!
Need more camaraderie in your day? Follow A Mothership Down on Facebook!
Want A Mothership Down delivered to your inbox? SUBSCRIBE HERE.