What Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide
Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you settle into the happy news and start looking after yourself and your little one, it's time to get informed about what foods make the most sense for you and your body.
Eating the right foods during pregnancy is essential for keeping both mom and baby healthy. Eating a balanced diet helps provide your growing baby with all the nutrients it needs, but also can help prepare mom’s body for labor and delivery.
While some foods are not recommended during pregnancy, we have compiled an ultimate guide of all the best foods to eat to get you through this precious time. From what types of fats to include in your diet, to which produce will work best—we've got everything covered here. So sit back, relax, grab a snack (like one of the many delicious ideas showcased below!) and let's get started!
Nutrients and Vitamins Pregnant Women Need
Are you looking for some pregnancy nutrition guidelines to ensure you're giving your baby the healthiest start in life? The good news is that when it comes to eating while pregnant, there are certain essentials that should be included in your daily diet.
Here’s the list of key nutrients and vitamins pregnant women need:
-Folate: which helps prevent birth defects and aids in the development of the baby's brain and spine
-Calcium: necessary to build strong bones and teeth
-Iron: needed to supply oxygen throughout the body
-Vitamin D: which helps strengthen bones
-Protein: found in meats, eggs, beans, and nuts, an important building block for tissue growth
-Iodine: essential for physical development and mental function.
You'll also want to make sure you get adequate amounts of fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, prebiotics, omega 3 fatty acids (such as from salmon or walnuts) and probiotics. So keep these essential nutrients in mind when stocking up your grocery cart!
Foods to Add and to Avoid While Pregnant
You’re eating for two now—so stock the fridge with some nutritious and delicious treats! During your pregnancy, you should be adding more whole foods such as fruits, veggies, proteins, and healthy fats to your diet. Here are just a few must-haves:
- Lean proteins - Examples include lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes
- Fruits & Veggies - Try to get at least five servings of fruit and veggies each day. Add a smoothie with spinach or kale for an extra boost!
- Healthy fats - Avocados, olives, nuts and nut butters can provide essential fatty acids for mom and baby
- Dairy - Calcium is important for both developing bones and healthy teeth. Consider low-fat yogurt or cheese as a snack or lunch option
On the other hand, there are certain items that you should steer clear of while pregnant due to potential health risks associated with them. Avoid the following foods during pregnancy:
- Raw fish - while some types of fish contain important Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial during pregnancy, eating raw fish can increase your risk of getting food poisoning
- Soft cheeses – avoid soft cheeses that aren’t pasteurized due to listeria concerns
- Unwashed fruits & veggies – always thoroughly wash any produce before consuming them
- Caffeine – it’s best to limit your caffeine intake while pregnant
Increasing Caloric Intake Without Overeating
Did you know that when you're pregnant, you'll need to consume more calories than usual? But, don't worry - you don't have to stuff yourself with food! Keeping your caloric intake in check is easier than ever.
Eating lean proteins such as chicken, fish, and eggs can help you meet your caloric needs without eating too much. They also contain essential nutrients for your baby's growth and development. Add in some natural sources of iron, such as spinach and other leafy greens.
Fruits & Veggies
Fruits like apples and oranges are rich in vitamin C which is especially important during pregnancy and can help with iron absorption. You can also increase your intake of antioxidants by eating cherries, apricots, prunes and papaya—all while staying satiated without over-eating!
Grains & Cereals
Choose whole grain options such as brown rice instead of white rice when preparing meals. This will give you more fiber and B-vitamins for energy throughout the day - plus it's a great way to manage your weight gain throughout pregnancy. And don't forget about whole wheat cereals that provide essential minerals such as zinc and magnesium, too!
The Importance of Fiber in Pregnancy Diets
You may not know this, but getting enough fiber in your diet while pregnant is incredibly important. Fiber helps to keep your digestive system running smoothly and can even help to reduce the risk of constipation and hemorrhoids - a common condition for pregnant women.
So why is fiber so important during pregnancy?
It Boosts Nutrient Absorption
Incorporating high-fiber foods into your diet will help you get the most out of the nutrients you consume. Fiber absorbs water and expands, which help slow digestion and make sure the vital nutrients are absorbed before they are eliminated. That way, you can benefit from all the great vitamins, minerals and macronutrients in your food!
It Keeps You Fuller Longer
Fiber takes longer to digest than most other foods, so it helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer - great if you're struggling with morning sickness or frequent cravings! Plus, because fiber takes so long to break down it doesn't cause sudden blood sugar spikes or drops - helping to regulate appetite and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.
What's more, fiber-rich foods like whole wheat breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that are needed for both mom and baby’s development! So don't forget to include them as part of your regular meals.
Making Healthy Swaps for Cravings
Craving some nachos? Why not switch it up and try black bean tacos instead! Pregnant women may have cravings, but that doesn't mean you need to go unhealthy when satisfying them. Making a few simple substitutions can help you feed your cravings without compromising your health or your baby's.
Instead of regular ice cream, try frozen yogurt for a sweet snack—but be sure it’s labeled “low fat” to get the most nutritional benefits. Don't want to give up cheese? Opt for soft, pasteurized cheeses, like feta or goat cheese, which are both high in calcium and proteins.
When it comes to snacks and desserts, baking is often a great alternative to fried food. Choose nutritious ingredients like oats, sweet potatoes, and coconut oil when baking at home. Or if you’re in the mood for something crunchy, opt for air-popped popcorn over chips on movie night!
Hydration Helps Too
Staying hydrated can also help keep cravings in check. If you want something more interesting than water—try infusing slices of cucumber or citrus fruits into a big jug of water in the morning. This way you can enjoy tasty combinations without all the added sugars from juices and sodas (which we don’t recommend).
By making smart swaps when satisfying your cravings during pregnancy, you can keep both you and your baby healthy!
Experiencing the Benefits of a Balanced Diet
Maintaining a balanced diet while pregnant is key to helping you and your baby get the nutrition you both need. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will provide important vitamins and minerals for your growing baby.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can help support a healthy pregnancy. Aim to include two or three servings of fruit and three to five servings of vegetables per day. Fruits can be fresh, canned in natural juices or frozen - but steer clear of canned fruits in syrup or fructose as they can contain added sugars.
You should aim to get between 6 to 8 ounces of protein daily while pregnant. Lean proteins like fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and tofu are all good sources that provide iron, zinc, calcium and B vitamins. The American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding certain fish due to their high mercury content - including swordfish, king mackerel, etc - so be sure to check before you indulge!
By eating healthfully during pregnancy you can help reduce nausea and minimize weight gain. Eating well doesn't have to be difficult - start by making small changes one day at a time. With just a few smart swaps you will be well on your way towards experiencing the benefits of a balanced diet for yourself and your baby.
Eating healthy and nutritious foods is incredibly important during pregnancy, as it helps to ensure that your baby gets everything it needs to grow and develop properly. Making sure to pay attention to your own needs, too, is key, as it can provide energy and help to combat fatigue and nausea. With this ultimate guide to what to eat during pregnancy, you now have all the information you need to make the best choices for your and your baby's health. With a few tweaks to your diet, you can ensure you have all the nutrients you need and enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Bon Appetit!