Pregnancy Nutrition: What Foods To Eat When You're Pregnant
When being pregnant, you need to ensure that your diet provides enough nutrients and energy for the baby to develop and grow properly. Your body needs to be healthy enough to deal with the changes that are occurring.
For a healthy pregnancy, the mother's diet needs to be balanced and nutritious - this involves the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and consuming a wide variety of plants like vegetables, and fruits.
Some women's diets may be impacted by ethical beliefs, religious requirements, or health conditions, so checking with a doctor is an important part of planning a pregnancy diet.
A pregnant woman's calorie intake grows during pregnancy. She does not “eat for two”; but her calorie consumption goes up a few hundred calories a day for most pregnant women.
Typical weight gain, if the mother is carrying just one baby, varies considerably based on pre-pregnancy weight and other factors. An underweight pregnant woman is recommended to gain the most, whereas an overweight woman is recommended to gain the least.
A woman's body absorbs iron more efficiently and blood volume increases when she is pregnant, so she has to consume more iron to make sure that both she and her baby have an adequate oxygen supply.
#1: FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. They may be in the form of juice, dried, canned, frozen, or fresh. Fresh produce usually has higher levels of vitamins and other nutrients.
Eating fruit is usually better for you than just drinking the juice, as natural sugar levels in juice are very high. Consider vegetable juices like carrot or wheatgrass for dense nutrition.
Starchy carbohydrate-rich foods are an important source of energy in the diet, and they also provide fiber, iron and B-vitamins. At least half of a pregnant woman's carbohydrate choices each day should come from whole grains, such as unrefined oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta or breads and brown rice.
Healthful, animal-sourced proteins include wild-caught fish like salmon and tuna, organic lean meat, and organic chicken, as well as organic eggs.
All pregnant women and especially vegans should consider the following foods as good sources of protein:
- Quinoa - known as a "complete protein," it includes all the essential amino acids.
- Tofu and soy products.
- Beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, seeds, and nut butters
Getting enough fiber is an essential part of a well-rounded diet because it helps keep your digestive system regular, your blood sugar levels normal, and it promotes heart health. But actually fitting enough fiber into your daily diet isn’t exactly easy.
Women have a higher risk of developing constipation during pregnancy; eating plenty of fiber is effective in minimizing that risk. Studies have shown that eating plenty of fiber during pregnancy reduces the risk or severity of hemorrhoids, which also becomes more common as the fetus grows. Some of the best sources of fiber include artichokes, peas, raspberries, avocados, pears, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, flaxseeds, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.
#5: HEALTHY FATS
Healthy fats are one of the three main macronutrients—the others being carbohydrates and protein—that are necessary for every pregnancy diet.
Consuming healthy fats is vital to your growing baby, and the right kinds help to fuel proper brain growth and eye development, particularly during the third trimester.
Healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 are usually found in nuts and seeds, but can also be found in whole foods like avocado, squash, pecans, cold-pressed olive oil, kidney beans and flaxseeds. The best source of omega-3 healthy fats is wild-caught salmon.
We recommend eating at least 42 grams of healthy fat each day. That amounts to about 44 almonds, or one and a half avocados, on a daily basis.
Your developing baby needs plenty of calcium to build strong bones and teeth. That calcium is also essential for producing normal blood clotting, muscle activity, and nerve function. Needless to say, calcium is very important for your health and the health of your baby.
To ensure that you get enough calcium every day, we suggest 4 servings of dairy products every day. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you're a vegan, you also need to make sure you get enough calcium. This is because non-vegans get most of their calcium from dairy foods. Good sources of calcium for vegans are dark green leafy vegetables, pulses, homemade unsweetened soy, rice and oat drinks, brown and whole wheat bread, calcium-set tofu, sesame seeds, and dried fruit.
Zinc is a vital trace element. It plays a major role in normal growth and development, cellular integrity, and several biological functions including nucleic acid metabolism and protein synthesis.
Since all these functions are involved in growth and cell division, zinc is important for the development of the fetus. The best sources of zinc are chicken, turkey, ham, shrimp, crab, oysters, meat, fish, dairy products, beans, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, ginger, onions, rice, eggs, lentils, and tofu.
If you're a vegan, you need to be careful to get enough nutrients into your diet. Be sure to check out our detailed advice for vegan moms-to-be here.
Vegetarian and vegan mums-to-be need to make sure they get enough iron and vitamins B12 and vitamin D, which are mainly found in meat and fish.
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