Congratulations! Eating correctly when you are pregnant is one of the most important steps to building a healthy baby. Your body provides your fetus with everything it needs. You need to eat for both your health and your child’s health.
However, you are not eating for two! You should only increase your calorie consumption by a few hundred calories a day. You don’t want to gain too much weight during your pregnancy (and it doesn’t magically melt off once you deliver).
Make every calorie count and even do double duty to provide your baby with everything you need to stay healthy. This is not an exhaustive discussion, but covers the highlights.
Carry a water bottle and use it! If you live where there is clean water, tap water is fine. You’ll need about 68 ounces of water a day, but some can come from other foods and drinks. Your body ensures your fetus gets all the water it needs but may short you.
If you become dehydrated, you can suffer from headaches, anxiety, tiredness, bad mood and reduced memory. Drinking water will help you stay regular and reduce urinary tract infections.
You need good quality lean protein for a healthy baby. Make sure you eat lean beef, pork, chicken or plant-based proteins. Beef and pork contain a lot of B vitamins and those as vitally important to a healthy baby.
Iron is very important. Low iron levels are associated with premature delivery and low birth weight.
If meat brings on morning sickness or you are a vegetarian, don’t worry. Eat plant based proteins like quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts and nut butters.
Fish and Omega-3 Foods
Fish is a lean protein but is important for other reasons. Salmon is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. Virtually no one gets enough fatty acids, and pregnant women are especially deficient.
Limit your seafood intake to twice a week. If seafood brings on morning sickness or you are vegetarian, eat flaxseeds, chia seeds, and omega-3 enriched eggs.
Omega-3 is used to grow your baby’s eyes and brain. Studies also show omega-3 reduces anxiety in pregnant women.
Calcium Rich Foods
Your fetus is growing bones, so support that by eating calcium. The obvious source is dairy foods – milk, cheese and yogurt. Greek yogurt is especially effective as it also contains probiotics.
These reduce risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and vaginal infections. Dairy is not the only calcium rich foods. Sardines, canned salmon, chia seeds, broccoli, beans, kale, and other vegetables are also very high.
Each calcium-rich food offers a unique set of nutrients, so eat a variety.
Eat whole grains when you are pregnant. These include oatmeal, whole grain bread, ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth, and brown rice. These are great sources of easily digested carbohydrates, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Some, like oats and quinoa, are excellent sources of protein.
Avoid white flours and breads and white rice. These are basically like eating sugar and contain very few of the extra important nutrients found in whole grains. Remember to make calories count!