To achieve a safe pregnancy for yourself and your baby, it’s beneficial to eat well while you are expecting. The perks of incorporating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains as part of your diet will keep you energized, reduce cravings and help regulate your weight gain. Remember, what you put in your body goes directly to your baby.
If breakfast consists of a coffee to go or you’re guilty of skipping meals, you may not be giving your body the essential vitamins and nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy. Though morning sickness or food aversions might make it impossible to stomach anything outside of crackers and ginger ale, find what you can tolerate and try eating through the nausea and vomiting. Nutritionist Dr. Del Millers explains that oftentimes just the sight of vegetables may make someone nauseous. He suggests expecting mothers try drinking vegetable juices. He explains that making it into a juice and adding some fruit makes it a more appetizing alternative.
Doula Mandy Schutt also explains that protein is extremely important during pregnancy because our bodies are made of protein. Since expecting mothers are building a body, it’s really important that they have a high protein diet during pregnancy. The USDA recommends 71 grams of protein a day for moms-to-be. Lean meats and poultry as well as low-mercury fish and beans offer sufficient protein to incorporate in your meals.
The USDA also recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day for expecting mothers. Consuming dairy products can help meet those requirements, but salmon, calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals are excellent too. Fortified milk and juices also fulfill your Vitamin D intake. Don’t forget iron (27 milligrams a day), which helps reduce the chances of a pre-term baby with a low birth weight. Foods such as spinach, chickpeas and dried fruit like raisins can also help boost your iron.
Below are suggested healthy meals and snacks to get you started:
- Fat free milk, rolled oats and cinnamon
- Frozen fruit and nonfat yogurt smoothie
- Veggie burger with pesto, Portobello mushrooms and onions
- Apple slices and low-fat cheese
- Baked salmon, wild rice and veggies
In order to gain the recommended amount of pregnancy weight, the mom-to-be should only be consuming an extra 300-500 calories. (If you are carrying multiples, your healthcare provider will advise your calorie intake.) Try to make wise choices when cooking or eating out. Also, caffeine should be limited to 200 milligrams a day. Going over that amount per day can have negative effects on your pregnancy.
Holistic nutrition and wellness coach Ling Wong believes that if you are experiencing cravings during pregnancy, there may be an underlining deficiency. For example, if you’re craving sugary, sweet food, you may need more protein in your diet. Wong suggests the following good mood foods during pregnancy:
- Cold-water fish
- Sunflower seeds
Expecting moms following a vegetarian diet need to pay attention to their Omega 3 intake. Dr. Millers explains that mothers want to look for an algae DHA supplement, because an algae DHA supplement has the same kind of DHA that you find in fish oil. To maximize your protein intake, Millers suggests combining foods such as grains and legumes. Ultimately, it’s safe to be a vegetarian during pregnancy so long as you are eating a well-balanced diet to provide all the nutrients your baby needs.
Eating organic foods might help reduce the amount of herbicides and pesticides you might ingest with other foods. Wong explains that these chemicals will cross the placenta and make their way to the fetus. Chemicals such as neurotoxins impact the growth and development of the baby’s brain or central nervous system. Hormonal disruptors affect the baby’s sexual development. If you aren’t eating organic foods, you may want to consider shopping organically for the 12 vegetables and fruits, known as the Dirty Dozen, which are contaminated with these toxins: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, lettuce, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries.