What Food You Should Be Eating During Your Pregnancy
One of the services that we offer at West End Mamas is nutrition and pregnancy diet consultation. It’s important to know what food to eat while pregnant so that you can make healthy choices for both you and your baby. Here’s a short list of our top 10 pregnancy food recommendations.
Babies need calcium for developing strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction and nerve function. Yogurt contains more calcium than most other dairy products and is packed full of other yummy nutrients that can help you and your baby during pregnancy, including protein and folate.
The active cultures found in yogurt (also known as good bacteria) are an excellent probiotic option of food to eat while pregnant. Probiotics can help reduce the risk of various complications such as preeclampsia, nausea, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections and allergies. It can also benefit your baby by minimizing their likelihood of developing eczema or other allergies when they get older.
You should aim to ingest roughly four servings of dairy every day – if you choose to include yogurt in your pregnancy diet, make sure you go for a plain one. If your diet is dairy-free, there are a bunch of other calcium-rich foods options to choose from.
Another folate-filled food to eat while pregnant are lentils. Folate is thought to be one of the most important nutrients for pregnant women, as this B vitamin is essential to the process of your baby’s brain and nervous system development. It has incredible protective properties against neural-tube birth disorders, such as spina bifida. One cup of cooked lentils will meet half of your daily folate requirements.
Additionally, lentils boost protein, iron and vitamin B6 levels. They are high in fibre, which makes them intestine-friendly.
Leafy Greens: Spinach, Kale and Turnip Greens
Boost your salad’s nutritional value by opting for darker-coloured lettuces. The deeper the green, the higher the vitamin content. Leafy greens are a great food to eat while pregnant as they are rich in antioxidants and contain plant compounds that are beneficial to the immune system as well as digestion.
Spinach, kale and turnip greens are some great alternatives to iceberg lettuce that will all assist in your baby’s development. Cooked spinach has high levels of iron and that ever important folate. Kale and turnip greens are both great sources of calcium. Other nutrients leafy greens offer are fibre, potassium and vitamins C, K and A.
Salmon and other cold-water fish are chockfull of crucial omega-3 fatty acids, including an important type called DHA, which is critical in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. It’s important to include these foods into your pregnancy diet as the body can’t make these “essential fats” on its own.
While fish are a great food to eat while pregnant, you must make sure not to overdo it. You should limit your seafood consumption to smaller fish like salmon, sardines and herring, as there is mercury and other contaminants found in larger fatty fish like shark, tilefish and bluefish. Too much mercury can have negative results. However, salmon is one of the very limited natural sources of vitamin D, which many of us are often actually lacking in our diets.
As there is such a thing as healthy fats, there are also “healthy carbs”! Sweet potato definitely makes this list as a food to eat while pregnant as it acts as an energizing complex carb that satisfies your hunger with fewer calories than other carbs.
Sweet potatoes contain an almost ridiculous amount of beta carotene, which is a plant compound that is converted to Vitamin A, which contributes to the growth and differentiation of most cells and tissues – a very important part of healthy fetal development. In fact, just one tuber consists of more than 400% of your daily vitamin A intake!
When pregnant, women are advised to increase their vitamin intake anywhere between 10 to 40%. Since high amounts of animal-based sources of vitamin A can actually lead to some toxicity when eaten in surplus, sweet potatoes make for a great alternative.
Eggs are an excellent alternative source of protein if you happen to develop an aversion to meat while pregnant. They contain all the vital amino acids your body needs in order to break food down. However, keep in mind that any eggs you eat must be cooked all the way through if you’re going to include them in your pregnancy diet. Any raw or partially cooked eggs (as well as foods containing them) need to be avoided to prevent salmonella infection.
Eggs are also a good source of choline, an essential nutrient for many bodily functions including brain development and health. Low choline intake during pregnancy can increase the chances of fetuses developing neural tube defects and a possible decrease in brain function, making eggs a definite food to eat while pregnant.
If you are someone who can still tolerate meat during pregnancy, focus your efforts on lean meats. As previously mentioned, amino acids found in protein are the foundation of every cell found in you and your baby’s bodies. Aim to eat three servings of protein per day. Sufficient protein means ample cell growth and blood production.
Your blood volume while you’re pregnant can increase by as much as 50%, which explains why anemia is so common during pregnancy. Lean meat is high in iron, a nutrient that is critical in the development of red blood cells. Your daily iron intake needs double when pregnant, so much sure to include enough iron-rich foods. Not enough iron in your pregnancy diet will make you feel lethargic and tired.
Avocados are another great food to eat while pregnant. Not only are they delicious, but they are loaded with folate, healthy fat, fibre, potassium and vitamins C, K, E and B6. It’s thought that vitamin B6 can actually help alleviate morning sickness and leg cramps as an added bonus to helping with your baby’s tissue and brain growth. It’s a win-win for mama and little one with this one!
This food recommendation to eat while pregnant is a bit more vague – fruit! There are a bunch of different fruits that are beneficial to pregnancy, but for the sake of space, we’ll only mention a few. Mangos are a great choice as they actually contain more vitamins A and C than a salad. Bananas are rich in potassium and will offer an energy boost if needed. Like avocados, they can also ease your stomach if you’re feeling nauseated. Next up are berries, which are packed with water, antioxidants and vitamin C. Another fruit that is also full of water and vitamin C are oranges.
Keeping in mind that some of the food you eat will contribute to the amount of water you need to consume a day will make staying hydrated that much easier. Speaking of…
Although it isn’t technically a food, we’re going to include water in our list of foods to eat while pregnant. It’s important to ensure that you are drinking enough water during your pregnancy as dehydration can be dangerous. It can even lead to early labour, which is something we would definitely like to avoid if possible.
The benefits of keeping hydrated are plentiful. Not only does it help build new cells, deliver nutrients and flush out toxins from your body, but it also reduces the chance of getting a urinary tract infection, which the likelihood of are increased during pregnancy. Additionally, it will also make your tummy feel full so it can help curb cravings and keep you from reaching for those unhealthy snacks.
The general rule of thumb is to try and drink two litres of water a day, however this amount will vary from individual to individual. It’s important to remember that some of the food you’ll already be consuming throughout the day will also contribute to your water intake.
Our nutrition experts and naturopaths here at West End Mamas will guide you through a recommended diet for your entire pregnancy. If you have more questions and want to book an appointment, contact us today!