Pregnancy Power Foods
You’re growing a human! It’s a miracle and a blessing and an experience unlike anything else in the world. But Mamas! You need to feed your pregnant body with proper nutrition to insure that you stay healthy and that your unborn child develops as he should.
According to HealthLine.com, the pregnant body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals and may need 350-500 extra calories per day, especially during the second and third trimesters. Additionally, lack of proper nutrition can affect the baby’s development, cause excess weight gain and increase the risk of gestational diabetes and other complications. Finally, HealthLine.com says that healthy eating makes it easier for the mother to lose the pregnancy weight after birth.
So…what should Mom eat?
If you’re like me, cheese is a life source. Good news! Baby needs dairy! HealthLine.com reports that “dairy is the best dietary source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc.”
Cottage cheese was a favorite of mine during pregnancy (as well as pizza!). Be careful to avoid non-pasteurized cheeses however, such as blue cheese, as it can carry listeria.
Other great dairy choices are Greek yogurt, which carries more calcium than any other dairy product and has probiotic bacteria that help with digestion, and milk (try a fruit smoothie to start your day!)
Meats such as beef, pork and chicken are good sources of protein, which Mommy needs to grow a healthy baby and have energy throughout the day. Beef and pork also provide B vitamins and iron, which pregnant women need more of as their blood volume increases with Baby’s growth.
Thankfully, I did not have an aversion to meat during any of my pregnancies and enjoyed many a healthy steak or chicken sandwich. But if you do, it’s important to take iron supplements to ensure your body has enough iron intake. Also, consuming foods high in vitamin C (like oranges or berries) helps your body absorb the iron.
This one’s obvious, right? An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Well, Mom and Baby need lots of vitamins that are found in fruit. Berries and oranges provide vitamin C, apples provide vitamin A and B vitamins, and bananas give the pregnant body much-needed folic acid. Dried fruits are another great choice, as they provide all the same nutrition but have a longer shelf life and are easier to eat on the go.
As explained on HealthLine.com, “Whole grains, as opposed to refined grains, are packed with fiber, vitamins and plant compounds. Additionally, whole grains are generally rich in B vitamins, fiber and magnesium.”
Some great breakfast choices are oatmeal or oat muffins, and later you can cook up a quinoa recipe off Pinterest that will do your body good!
BEANS & LENTILS
You might be wondering what lentils are (I did anyway, having never had them before pregnancy). If you scour the internet, you’ll find they are all the rage for pregnant mamas. According to Parents.com, “All women need 10 extra grams of protein a day during pregnancy (for a total of at least 60 grams); beans and lentils are an excellent source, with about 15 grams per cup. They're also high in fiber, which helps to combat constipation. And 1 cup of cooked lentils meets half of your daily folate requirement.”
Luckily, you’re pregnant in the 21st century, so you’ll find no shortage of recipes online for cooking up beans and lentils. Pinterest is calling you!
Another great protein source (and meat alternative) is eggs. They are rich in amino acids and can be made in so many different ways. During my pregnancies, I hard boiled enough for the entire week and packed them in my lunch for work. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on them and you’re good to go. Another option for on-the-go snacks are egg muffins with veggies. There’s nothing better—packed with nutrition AND taste!
According to Parents.com, spinach has high levels of folate and iron, and kale and turnip greens are both good calcium sources. Rather than a traditional salad, try using spinach leaves to make your salad that much healthier! And kale recipes are everywhere. Our favorites include putting kale in our soups and making kale chips as a healthy way to curb a salt craving. Parents.com also says that when looking for lettuce, the darker the better, as “the deep colors signal higher vitamin content.” So skip the iceberg and opt for some dark leafy greens instead to give you and Baby that extra nutritional boost.
Feeding your body throughout life is so important, but now more than ever, it’s important to think about what you’re feeding it. And the best part of eating healthy? After a day of hard-boiled eggs and spinach-quinoa salad, treating yourself to a bowl of ice cream tastes better than ever. Congratulations, Mama! Baby will be here before you know it.
Quiz — True or False?
1.The lighter the color of lettuce, the more nutritional value. FALSE
2.Beans and lentils are one of the healthiest food choices for pregnant women. TRUE
3.Women should not eat red meat during pregnancy. FALSE
4.Fruit has too much sugar and should be avoided when pregnant. FALSE
5.It’s important to avoid non-pasteurized cheeses to protect Mom and Baby from listeria. TRUE
Olathe mom Karen Johnson has three kids, ages 8, 6 and 4. She writes at The21stCenturySAHM.com.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.
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