Between feeling nauseated and sick in the first trimester, to having barely any room to fit in a full meal in the third trimester, it can be difficult to know if you are getting enough nutrition. That is why it is important to make every bite count!
So if you are wondering what you should be eating, read on to learn more about the healthiest foods to fuel your pregnancy!
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition in a tiny convenient package. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and 13 essential vitamins and minerals. This includes 125 mg of choline, which promotes brain development early in life. There was never a better reason to enjoy breakfast for dinner!
Blended in a smoothie, on top of pancakes, cereal, or simply as a snack, berries will give you the benefits of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. It’s easy to enjoy these delicate summer fruits all year long when you buy frozen berries.
Pregnant women need 1000 mg of calcium each day to help their baby grow strong bones and prevent the risk of osteoporosis. 1 cup of plain low-fat yogurt gives you 415 mg of calcium and 12g protein, which is more than a cup of milk! Try a yogurt parfait with berries and granola for an easy and delicious snack.
Pregnancy is not a time for low-carb dieting! You need about 175g of carbs per day for the energy it takes to grow your baby. Choose whole grain options, like brown rice, 100% whole wheat, oats, and corn. They are also a great source of B-vitamins, such as folic acid, as well as iron and fiber to help keep you moving.
Black, kidney, pinto, garbanzos, or lentils – all types of beans are a must for the pregnant woman’s diet! These little wonders can be added to soups, salads, pasta, or mashed into a sandwich. Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, iron, folate, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
This versatile vegetable is a good source of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. You can also get 7g of fiber per cup of sweet potatoes to help you battle constipation. For a super-fast and nutrient-dense meal, microwave a potato and top with your favorite meat or beans, tomato, avocado and cheese!
Dark Leafy Greens
There is a reason kale has been trendy for the past several years! Dark greens are rich in almost every vitamin a pregnant woman needs, and are an excellent source of antioxidants and phytochemicals that are important for good health. Don’t limit yourself to the same old spinach salad – try arugula, collard greens, and mustard greens to to mix things up.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces) of fish per week for pregnant women. This helps your baby get the omega-3 fatty acids they need for brain and neurological development. Salmon, along with haddock, sardines, and shrimp, is a lower mercury fish.
Rich and buttery avocados are a delicious way to get your fill of healthy fats, folate, potassium and antioxidants. A 2016 study in Nutrients identified avocadoes as a unique source of the critical nutrients mothers need. So go beyond guacamole and enjoy avocados on sandwiches, salads, or simply spread on toast.
Nuts and Seeds
Looking for a healthy on-the-go snack? Nuts and seeds are a perfect choice, as they are easy to carry, can be added to almost any meal, and provide the healthy fats and protein you need in a convenient little package. Try dark-chocolate covered or chocolate dusted nuts for a sweet treat!
About the author:
Jennifer is a dietitian passionate about connecting good nutrition with tasty food. She runs a private practice, Nourish for Life, where she works with new moms and parents of young children to help them eat well and have a healthy relationship with food. She is a mom of one tiny human and two fur-babies, and loves creating yummy new recipes in her free time.
- Comerford KB, et al. “The Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets during the Periconceptional Period, Pregnancy, and Lactation.” Nutrients. 8(5): 313. Web. May 2016.
- Lin Yan. “Dark Green Leafy Vegetables.” USDA. United States Department of Agriculture, Aug 2016. Available at https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/.
- “ACOG Practice Advisory: Update on Seafood Consumption During Pregnancy.” ACOG.
- “Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012).” FDA. US Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, Jan 2017. Available at https://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/metals/ucm115644.html.