Being pregnant is challenging enough without worries about what to eat during pregnancy. The truth is that eating during pregnancy isn’t really significantly different than eating at any other time of your life – with the exception of a few foods to avoid and a need to increase a few nutrients.
What to Eat During Pregnancy?
The first thing you need to know is that to supply your baby with the calories it needs to thrive and grow, you only need to increase your intake by about 200-300 calories each day. That really isn’t that much.
Of course that means that you need to make sure that you maximize the nutrition in each of those calories. No junk food please–you want to grow a healthy baby!
The foods you need during your pregnancy are exactly the same as before, lean protein, plenty of organic produce and whole grains. The things you need to increase are iron, calcium, protein and folic acid.
If you were planning to get pregnant and spoke to your doctor about these things, it is likely you received some suggestions on how to do this. If not, here it is in a nutshell.
How to Get Extra Iron During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women struggle with anemia. The blood supply increases during pregnancy in order to provide the baby with its nutrition as well. Iron can be found in a number of foods – and while liver is the most often cited, it can have some unintentional side effects. Liver has a great deal of vitamin A which can lead to birth defects, so skip the liver and try this instead.
Spinach, broccoli, peas and beets all contain healthy amounts of iron. Combine them with a vitamin C rich food to absorb the maximum quantity of available iron.
For example, a spinach salad with strawberries, some raw sliced almonds and a nice dressing made of lemon juice and olive oil is a perfect lunch.
Lentils and brown rice both have a lot of iron, and if you combine them make up a complete protein. That is a real win/win situation.
While the mainstream media would have you guzzling milk by the gallon, there are better ways to get your calcium. In fact, the calcium in commercially pasteurized milk is hard for your body to absorb. That’s why it’s important to know what to eat during pregnancy that will help you get the calcium for your baby’s strong bones.
You are much better off getting your calcium from those same dark leafy vegetables that provide iron or fish such as sardines that are prepared with their bones. That calcium is much more easily absorbed, and you get a great deal more nutrition that way.
Required for increasing the blood supply and to decrease the likelihood of neural tube defects, folate is another essential for the pregnant woman. Chances are your doctor will recommend a prenatal vitamin–but you can also get this nutrient, in dark green leafy vegetables.
Oranges, legumes and organic whole eggs are also rich in folate, so make sure you get your fill of these as well. No point in a boring diet just because you are pregnant.
What Else Should be on Your Plate?
Now that we have covered the “big three” lets look at other foods that are essential to a life long healthy diet. Grass-fed meats are a great place to start. They are much lower in omega 6s, and higher in omega 3s which will help support a healthy balance between the two fatty acid groups.
The cattle aren’t injected with hormones and antibiotics, which is good for you and your baby. They also provide great protein to help grow new cells and repair damaged tissues. For the meat eater, grass-fed and organic, free-range meats are some of the best sources of protein to eat during pregnancy.
A variety of whole grains is essential as well. Not only will they provide you with essential carbohydrates for energy, the contain lots of good fiber which will help keep your intestines moving along–a common issue for pregnant women.
Finally, consider always having some hard boiled eggs and raw nuts around. They make good, protein-rich snacks and offer terrific benefits for both mom and baby. Full of choline, which boosts brain power and reduces the chances of neural tube defects, both eggs and raw nuts are easy to keep on hand.
Is there more to know about what to eat during pregnancy? Of course, but it won’t all fit here, so start eating those leafy greens and continue learning as much as you can about a healthy pregnancy. It won’t be long before you are holding that little bundle of joy.