The term “eating for two” not only gives you an excuse to eat extra food without feeling guilty, but it really is the truth. The food you eat supplies nutrients to your body as well as the baby growing inside. To make sure your developing baby gets everything they need, there are specific foods you want to include in your diet.
Eating right is important during pregnancy, especially since your child doesn’t have access to the menu. Obviously, you should make a dietary plan for your pregnancy under the guidance of your OB/GYN.
Eating for Two
You are responsible for their nourishment as well as your own, so you need to be diligent when it comes to your diet. Here is what you should know about eating healthy while pregnant.
1. Prenatal Vitamins
Even if you follow a balanced and healthy diet, it is still a good idea to take daily prenatal vitamins. Your baby’s nervous system is the first to develop during pregnancy, and requires specific nutrients like calcium, folic acid, and iron.
Your diet may very well contain these essential nutrients, but the additional support of a vitamin will help. (1) When it comes to giving your growing baby all it needs, it is better to be safe than sorry. You can get prenatal vitamins from any pharmacy and most of the time your doctor will even get them for you.
2. Concentrate on Calories
You need to pay attention to caloric intake because not all calories are created equally. Processed or convenience store food is full of empty calories that contribute to health problems rather than providing energy.
You want to focus on nutrient-dense foods with moderate calorie levels. (2) Healthy fats, such as avocados and cheese, are a great way to get useful calories and nutritional support.
3. Compensate for Taste Changes
Pregnancy is notorious for causing strange food cravings and aversions to food you once loved. If you notice that you now have an aversion to fish or broccoli, you need to find alternative foods to replace these.
Any food that is removed from your diet contains nutrients you need, so they need to be replaced by something else ASAP.
4. Watch Your Weight
Gaining weight is inevitable during pregnancy. In fact there is a healthy amount of weight that you should gain. Check with your doctor as to how much additional weight is safe, because you will be left with it once the baby is born.
Be mindful of your cravings and do not overeat. (3) Preparing healthy snacks that are low in calories is a great way to avoid overeating and adding weight.
5. Focus on Fiber
The hormonal changes of pregnancy cause the digestive tract to slow down, which makes constipation a regular occurrence. Making sure you get enough fiber in your diet will keep you regular and prevent any additional stomach cramping or pains. (4)
The best foods to include for this are whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, beans, pears, and plums.
6. Only Eat the Fat You Need
Fat is the most efficient fuel source, and you will need this during pregnancy. However, too much fat will end up stored in your body and will be waiting there for you once the baby is born.
Excess fat is hard to lose, so it is better to monitor fat intake during pregnancy. Work with your doctor to evaluate how much fat you need for you and the baby, and include the appropriate amount in your diet.
7. Got Milk
Your growing baby needs calcium, especially during the first few months of development. (5) Dairy is the best source of calcium as well as other essential nutrients and healthy fats. Yogurt in particular has been shown to be beneficial for pregnant women as it also provides much needed probiotics, Probiotic supplements are not advised during pregnancy, and so the lower doses in yogurt are beneficial.
8. Eggs Everyday
Eating eggs during pregnancy is recommended because they contain a little of everything that you need. Choline, specifically, is a vital nutrient required for brain development, and this is abundant in eggs. (6)
Low choline levels in developing babies are linked to neural tube defects and risk of impaired brain function, so eggs should be served daily.
9. Stay Moving
To help keep your weight within a healthy range, make sure you get exercise each day.
Obviously, as you get further into your pregnancy, vigorous exercise is difficult and dangerous. You only need moderate movement to keep your body healthy and prevent too much weight gain. Taking a walk every day burns excess fat and produces endorphins, keeping you happy and healthy.
10. Keep the Meat Lean
Meat is one of the best sources of protein, which your growing baby will need. Take care because red meats also come with a high fat content.
Iron and choline are rich in red meat, so they should not be excluded but eaten in moderation. So long as you have a prenatal vitamin supplement, you will get all that you need. Consuming more poultry is the best way to get protein and avoid fat.
11. Salt Matters
A common misconception is to avoid salt during pregnancy, but this is not advised. Salt helps your body to retain fluids that you need more of during pregnancy. Just make sure you use iodized salt to avoid exposure to extra iodine, which can prevent thyroid deficiency.
12. Stay Hydrated
Your blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy, so hydration is vital. Your baby will take water from your body first, so if you are not drinking enough, you will end up dehydrated.
You also need to keep water intake high to avoid constipation and urinary tract infections.
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy takes a lot of energy. The life of another person depends on you and your energy levels. You need the right mix of carbohydrates and fats to provide energy to keep you healthy as well as your growing child.
Your baby cannot grow properly without energy, so you need to eat enough to keep your energy levels sustained as well as the levels of your child.
When it comes to pregnancy, not only are you what you eat, but so is your baby. Caloric and nutrient intake increases to support your developing baby. You also need to maintain your own health so you can support the development through the full term. You are given permission to eat more, but this doesn’t mean you can eat everything.
Follow the tips above and give your child the best possible start in life.