With all the ‘Don’ts’ plus your own changes in taste, pregnancy can often turn into a time when instead of getting to eat all the glorious things you previously dreamed off you find yourself picking over menus and supermarket aisles, starving, slightly nauseous and confused about what is really safe and what is really healthy for you and your growing baby. I hope by breaking down pregnancy nutrition into what to avoid, what to make sure you eat, some simple tips to follow and then an ideal ‘day in the life’ food diary you’ll be able to figure out what healthy pregnancy eating really means for you.
The best, most healthy way to approach eating while pregnant is to ask yourself what you imagine feeding your child once they are old enough to eat a varied diet. When you think about pregnancy eating this way, you’ll certainly think twice about running off to your favorite fast food chain every day for lunch or chowing down on the Cheetos! Because, I know these are not the things you are imagining feeding your toddler at every chance you can get. So if you wouldn’t’ feed a certain for to them, don’t eat it while pregnant!
What to avoid: Deli meats, non-pasteurized cheeses, alcohol, caffeine, fish with high levels of mercury (like tuna, swordfish, mackerel, shark, and tilefish), raw fish, meat eggs and pate. Also, make sure to follow websites such as www.CDC.com for salmonella, e.coli and other dangerous occurrences in food.
What to make sure you eat: It’s important to make sure to eat a diet that has all of the following nutrients
Folic acid/folate, Iron, Calcium, Vitamins A, C, Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, Selenium, Omega-3, and Omega-6.
As much as possible try to follow these easy quick tips:
*Eat as much natural, non-packaged, non-processes foods as possible
*Try to choose organic wherever possible and make-sure to wash produce as much as possible.
*Consume lots of fruit, veggies and whole grains
*Limit the amount of fried food and refined sugars
*Remember that the old “eating for two” saying isn’t exactly true. If you start off with a healthy BMI when you get pregnant and are eating a healthy diet of around 1800 calories per day then current research says you only need to consume around 100-300 calories in the first two trimesters, upping it a little in your third.
*Iron deficiencies are not un-common during pregnancy but remember that if you are required to up the intake of iron then you must combine it with vit-C rich foods in order of the iron to successfully be absorbed.
*Ginger is a great way to combat nausea whether it is in tea or lollipops.
Having had three babies myself I can tell you that all this serious diet information can be quiet overwhelming and while I believe firmly that you should follow it as much as possible I do also believe that pregnancy is a time to relax, to pamper yourself and indulge in ways that you might not normally do so. It is quite simply part of the enjoyment of being pregnant. However I encourage you to splurge in quality foods, in well-made chocolate and ice-cream as opposed to fast food and candy, or home-made sweets as opposed to packed and very processed options. And as always, use moderation as much as you can. Below is an ‘ideal’ pregnancy food day but in truth it is really an ‘ideal’ food day for any of us, pregnancy or not. Use it less as something you must stick to every day but more as an inspiration for good clean eating to try and help you make better choices in food as your baby grows inside of you. You may not be eating for two after all but you certainly are feeding two people, two very precious people: you and your baby.
How to get the nutrients, the ideal day:
Breakfast: You will feel your best if you start the day with tissue-building protein, complex carbs for energy and fiber for digestion.
ALMOND MILK: Good alternative to skim milk and soy milk with Vitamin D, E and calcium. Delicious in Decaf coffee or tea.
LOW-FAT COTTAGE CHEESE Good source of protein and will help you feel full.
SPROUTED GRAIN BREADS AND TORTILLAS: These grains are a great source of protein and have more nutrition value than their white counterparts. For a healthy breakfast burrito, add egg-whites, veggies and part-skim cheese.
SMOOTHIE Great on the go and very refreshing. Strawberries and blueberries give you vitamin c and fiber and a banana gives it a good consistency and potassium, vitamin b6 and fiber. Blend with ice, yogurt, skim, and almond or rice milk. I like to add ground flax seeds to mine for some omega-3s.
ORGANIC EGGS Stick to one yolk per day max. You’ll be getting protein, folic acid and selenium.
Lunch: It’s important to a lunch that will keep your energy up and not weigh you down. A balanced salad w/ a side of soup is a great option.
Salads can turn into an unhealthy, calorie bomb if you’re not careful (i.e. if you add avocado, limit the oil in the dressing and skip the nuts and always be mindful of cheese, dressings and croutons which can quickly pack on calories). Here are some tasty and nutritious salad fixings to toss in:
AVOCADO A healthy fat that delivers vitamin c, E, B6, Omega 3, folate and fiber. Pregnant women often experience fluctuation in their skin (some experience breakouts while others find their skin clearer)—avocado gives your skin (and hair!) balanced moisture from within.
LETTUCE Great combo: arugula, spinach (Vitamin A & Magnesium) and lettuce.
ORGANIC CHICKEN OR TURKEY These are good sources of protein because they are lean and help you feel fuller longer. Also contain niacin, vitamin B6 and selenium)
DRIED CRANBERRIES Or other berries: Add a sweet kick to salads and deliver anti-oxidants (great to keep in your handbag as well)
SOUPS If you want to pair your salad with a soup, try Tomato, Vegetable, Bean or a Chili.. Go for low-sodium versions so you don’t feel bloated.
BROWN RICE, QUINOA AND WHOLE WHEAT PASTA The Grains: You will feel fuller longer (fiber) and these are all “good carbs”, meaning they are not processed, white carbohydrates.
SOYBEANS Great alternative to meat and pack as much protein as red meat or cheese.
SQUASH, SPINACH, KALE, BROCCOLI Add fiber and vitamins to your grains with these veggies (I like them steamed or sautéed). Good source of Vitamin A.
GREEN BEANS, YELLOW BEANS, PEAS AND LENTILS Good for fiber and colorful additions to any meal
Whole Wheat Crackers
Ginger Candies for when nausea hits
Celery & Carrot sticks
Walnuts, almonds, apricots (Be careful of portions with any type of dried fruit, nut or trail mix as they can be densely caloric. Don’t be afraid of the fat in nuts—it’s the healthy kind!)
Rice cakes w/ hummus, Almond butter, or avocado spread
Sliced frozen bananas for an ice-cream alternative