Are you worried that you aren’t eating well enough when pregnant?
Pregnant mothers need to watch their diet to make sure they’re consuming proper foods. You want to properly nourish your body, because your body sustains your baby and keeps you healthy throughout the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Eating some or all of the best foods to eat when you’re pregnant will keep you feeling great!
A pregnant woman needs additional vitamins and minerals, and she also needs to consume 350 to 500 extra calories each day. Those calories should come from a pan of brownies – sometimes is okay! – but rather should come from an increase in good, wholesome food that delivers nutrients to your baby and body.
Eating the right and healthy food in pregnancy time does more than give you nutrients. It also helps you avoid uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms, such as constipation! Many women experience constipation because progesterone, which rises during pregnancy, causes food to move slowly throughout your digestive tract.
Most importantly, eating properly ensures that women don’t gain too much weight during pregnancy. Gaining too much weight can lead to risks, such as preeclampsia, premature delivery, gestational diabetes, and other health issues!
14 Foods to Eat When You’re Pregnant
Time to drink your glass of milk, mama! Calcium is an absolute necessity for another healthy diet, but it’s especially important for pregnant women. Not only does calcium help to strengthen your bones and teeth, but it also aids the development of your baby’s healthy skeletal system. That’s pretty important!
Dairy products contain two types of protein: casein and whey. While you can receive calcium from other sources, dairy provides the highest amounts, along with large amounts of phosphorus, B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium.
If you don’t like to drink straight milk, that’s okay! Try yogurt, in particular, Greek yogurt because it actually contains more calcium than other dairy products along with probiotics which support digestive health. Probiotics help to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, allergies, and vaginal infections.
You can do so much with yogurt! Make fruit smoothies, layer it with granola for a delicious breakfast parfait, use as a sandwich filling instead of sour cream or mayo, make dips and salad dressings, or eat it plain!
Doctors recommend that a pregnant woman consumes at least 1,000 milligrams of dairy products per day, so that’s three glasses of milk, but that can be replaced with yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products.
Legumes are a group of foods that include peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, and peanuts. Adding legumes to your diet gives you a plant-based source of fiber, protein, folate, calcium, and iron, which are all important during pregnancy.
Legumes have a large amount of folate, plus they’re very high in fiber. Fiber can help you stay regular and avoid constipation issues. Certain legumes also contain higher amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium!
Aside from salmon being absolutely delicious, salmon is a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Most people don’t get enough omega-3s in their diet, but it’s particularly important for pregnant women. Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, help build the brain and eyes of your growing baby! That’s so important!
You might be wondering about salmon because pregnant women are advised to limit their seafood intake to twice per week. This recommendation is because of the mercury found in fatty fish. So, out of worry, some pregnant women avoid seafood completely, but that is a mistake! By removing seafood entirely, you also severely limit or cut out your intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Your baby needs those!
Need more reasons to eat salmon? Salmon is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D. Most people lack proper amounts of vitamin D in their diets!
Wild salmon is the best choice. If you don’t like salmon, a few other safe seafood choices for pregnant women include sardines, herring, and farmed oysters.
Still worried? Don’t be! Pregnant women need to avoid large ocean predators, such as:
- King mackerel
- Bigeye tuna
- Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico
- Orange roughy
Eggs are truly a superfood because they contain some many nutrients. Considering how small an egg is, they pack quite a punch in your diet. You can have them fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, or as an omelet. No matter how you prefer your eggs, they’re a gold standard for pregnancy!
A single, large egg contains 77 calories, protein, fat, and a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Eggs contain choline, which helps with brain development and health. Choline is another mineral that most people are lacking.
Having low choline in your diet could increase the risk of neural tube defects and potentially lead to decrease brain function in the fetus.
You may love to read more about The Best Prenatal Vitamins.
Instead of reaching for a regular white potato, reach for a sweet potato instead! Sweet potatoes have high levels of beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in your body. Humans need vitamin A for growth and the differentiation of most cells and tissues, along with the development of healthy fetal development.
Doctors encourage pregnant women to increase their vitamin A intake by 10 to 40%, but you do want to avoid high amounts of animal-based vitamin A because it can cause toxicity when eaten in excess!
So, to avoid too much animal-based vitamin A, try sweet potatoes to increase your beta-carotene. 3.5 to 5.3 ounces of cooked sweet potato fulfill your daily requirements! In addition, sweet potatoes also contain fiber, which helps to improve your digestive health and reduces blood sugar.
Consuming a variety of meats throughout your pregnancy is a good idea, such as beef, pork, and chicken. All of these are sources of high-quality protein. Beef and pork are sources of iron, choline, and vitamin B.
The main reason you want to include meat in your diet is that it’s a fantastic source of iron, which is the essential mineral needed to create red blood cells. Pregnant women need to ensure their iron is at a proper level because pregnant women need more iron due to their increased blood volume.
If you don’t have the right levels of iron throughout your pregnancy, it can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Anemia puts you and your baby at risk for premature delivery and low birth weight.
Lean meats also have all of the amino acids in the protein that you need. Amino acids are the building blocks of your body cells, along with the cells in your baby’s body. Eating foods that are high in protein help to stabilize your blood sugar.
You need to try to aim for 75 grams of protein per day.
Some people don’t eat meat, and that’s okay! You do need to be mindful and try some other sources, such as dark leafy greens, cooked dried beans, quinoa, lentils, dried fruit, and tofu.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, are full of folate, which is one of the most important vitamins you can consume during your pregnancy. Folate is a B vitamin, so it helps with proper infant development and works towards preventing serious defects of the spine and brain.
Doctors believe that pregnant mothers aren’t consuming enough folate, especially during their first trimester. Insufficient amounts of folate are linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects and low birth weight, and it can make your child prone to infections and diseases later in life.
The ideal amount of leafy greens to eat each day is 400 to 800 micrograms, which is about a half cup of cooked spinach. That half cup has over 130 micrograms of folate – wow!
Some other options for greens include:
- Collard Greens
Avocados are another superfood that pregnant women need to eat! They’re a fantastic source of monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as fiber, B vitamins (such as folate), potassium, vitamin K, copper, and vitamin C!
Pregnant women are encouraged to eat avocados because healthy fats build your baby’s brain, skin, and tissues. Plus, the folate works to prevent neural tube defects.
Another cool benefit? Avocados contain more potassium than bananas, so they help to relieve those horrible leg cramps you have in the middle of the night!
Pregnant women have to increase their calorie requirements and eating healthy, whole grains help moms reach that goal, especially during the second and third trimesters! Compared to refined grains, whole grains are full of fiber, vitamins, and plant compounds.
Two really good options are oats and quinoa. Both have protein, which we know is important during pregnancy. Oats are full of fiber that will help you deal with constipation. You can do more than just have a bowls of oatmeal in the morning! Try adding oats to your pancake mix, muffins, cakes, cookies, and even meatballs!
Make sure you’re consuming a variety of whole grains. Other options include whole corn, wheat, and barley. Air-popped popcorn is a healthy snack!
Finally some fruit for the list! Berries are a source of water (which you need in abundance!), vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Vitamin C is necessary to help your body absorb iron, and we know how important iron is for pregnant women!
Vitamin C is necessary for proper immune system development and skin health. The best thing is that berries have a low glycemic index, so you can snack and eat berries often. Add them to your water or top your pancakes with them – yum!
When you want a nutritious, high-calorie snack, try some dried fruits. One piece of dried fruit has all of the nutrients as fresh fruit, but it’s smaller and contains less water. Dried fruit is an excellent, portable snack that you should carry with you!
One serving of dried fruit can help you get all of the recommended vitamins and minerals necessary each day. For example, dried prunes have fiber, potassium, and vitamin K.
However, dried fruits have high amounts of natural sugars, and you want to be sure that you avoid candied varieties. Candied dried fruit has even more sugar, and that’s not what you want. Just don’t go crazy eating it!
Carrots & Peppers
Carrots & Peppers
Carrots and red peppers are full of beta-carotene, which changes to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is important for the development of your baby’s eyes, skin, bones, and organs. Needless to say, vitamin A is necessary!
Carrots and peppers are great snack foods, perfect for munching on the go because they don’t require much refrigeration to stay good. You can add shredded carrots to basically anything like cakes and salads. Now you have an excuse to eat carrot cake!
Red peppers can be eaten with a dip or in stir-fry dishes. Try roasted red peppers with a bit of olive oil and garlic. You can add them to your salads as well!
Sometimes, pregnancy aversions make you stir away from veggies and towards fruit. If that’s you right now, try adding mangos to your diet. Mangos have more vitamins A and C than a salad – isn’t that awesome?
If you suffer from leg cramps, be sure to add mangos to your diet. Just like bananas, mangos have magnesium, which helps to relieve pregnancy-induced leg cramps.
You can eat mangos plain without anything; they’re seriously delicious. Try adding mangos to smoothies, relishes, and salsas. Mangos blend well into plain yogurt as well.
Pregnant women need to drink a lot of water, but adding in a glass of orange juice each day is a good idea. A glass of OJ helps to meet some of your daily quota for folate, potassium, and vitamin C.
Orange juice contains potassium which helps improve and maintain your muscle function and metabolism. Pregnant women need additional potassium in their diet because of expanding blood volume.
Also, orange juice contains vitamin C which helps you fight off colds, aids your body absorb iron, and creates healthy baby bones and teeth!
Eating Well During Pregnancy
Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy leads to a healthy mama and a healthy baby, at least that’s the goal! Eating good foods will help you avoid excessive weight gain and potential problems at birth. Make sure you eat some of the best foods for pregnancy each day!