Eating for two doesn’t mean eating more, it means eating better, and usually it’s a nerve-wracking responsibility, especially with so much conflicting information. There is rarely a more nutritionally demanding time during a woman’s life than pregnancy.
During your pregnancy, there are a few things that might stress you out, but eating shouldn’t be one of them. Unfortunately, all of the advice you hear from friends, family, and yes, even total strangers — about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy is enough to confuse anyone.
Proper nutrition can be a game changer during pregnancy. When it comes to making healthier food choices, your baby’s health depends on it and so does yours!
Here’s some advice from nutrition experts on their top pregnancy foods. You don’t need to like or eat them all, but pick and choose your favorites to give your pregnancy a nutritional boost.
Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. In pregnant women, choline plays an important role helping to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida and playing a role in brain development. Whether you like them fried, scrambled, hard-boiled or served as an omelet, eggs are the gold standard for the prenatal protein which is essential for pregnancy.
Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat, But if cholesterol is a concern for you, substitute egg whites for whole eggs.
Navy beans, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, there are so many to choose from. Beans contain the most fiber and protein of all the vegetables. Try them in chili and soups, salads, and pasta dishes, they are also good sources of key nutrients, such as iron, folate, calcium, and zinc, an essential mineral that’s linked to a lower risk for preterm delivery, low birth weight and prolonged labor.
It’s important to get enough protein during pregnancy, but you may not yet realize that fiber could become your new best friend. When you’re pregnant, your gastrointestinal tract slows down, putting you at risk for constipation and hemorrhoids. Fiber can help prevent and relieve these problems.
#3 Lean Meat
Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, packed with iron and B vitamins, which helps build baby’s brain by strengthening nerve connections. Look for lean meats with the fat trimmed off. Your body needs a lot more protein now (about 25 extra grams a day) to help the fetus grow and to ensure his or her muscles develop properly.
Lean meat is an excellent option since it’s also high in iron, critical to helping your baby develop his red blood cell supply and support yours too.
#4 Colorful fruits and veggies
Eating plenty of green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and white fruits and vegetables ensures that you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. Each color group provides different vitamins and minerals. These super foods are especially important for moms-to-be and developing baby’s eyesight and aiding in bone and skin growth, that’s because, in addition to all those antioxidants, fruits and veggies supply calcium, potassium, fiber, and folate.
Another advantage of eating the fruit and veggie spectrum is, during the later stages of pregnancy, the baby ‘tastes’ the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid, If you expose your baby to a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables in the womb, you’ll increase the chance that your baby will recognize and accept those flavors later on.
Oats are full of fiber, B vitamins, iron and a host of other minerals. Start your morning off right with a nice big bowl of oatmeal. Whole grains are great for keeping your energy levels up, especially if morning sickness has you feeling a bit drained, they are important in pregnancy because they’re high in fiber and nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, and phytonutrients (plant compounds that protect cells).
Aim to eat plenty along with a variety of other whole grains (whole corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, and barley) to up your dose of a slew of baby-building vitamins and minerals.