Did you just find out you’re pregnant? Congratulations! We couldn’t be happier for you. The next nine months are going to be ones you’ll never forget. During those nine months, what you eat will be the cornerstone of your health and the health of your baby. That’s why it’s so essential that you pay particular attention to what’s on your plate and what goes into your body.
Thankfully, a healthy, well-rounded pregnancy diet is not a difficult thing to incorporate into your daily routine. Here are the two simple rules we recommend.
Rule #1: Eat Healthy, Balanced Meals
The key to a successful pregnancy diet is balance. A balanced diet includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby healthy and happy. Because of the changes in your body and the needs of your baby, you may need to include vitamins and minerals in your diet that you didn’t even think about before you were pregnant. That’s okay. Here are the 6 best foods we suggest you include in your pregnancy diet.
1. Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of every healthy diet... including your pregnancy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid that are essential for your baby’s development.
We recommend eating at least at least 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables every day. Not sure how to do this? Try including an apple at breakfast and an orange at lunch. For your vegetables, whip up a large salad for lunch and add a side of broccoli or cauliflower for dinner.
2. High-Quality, Lean Protein
High-quality, lean protein provides essential amino acids, vitamin B, and iron which help your developing baby stay healthy in the womb.
We suggest at least 3 servings of protein every day. Instead of a bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar on the run, try a hardboiled egg. If you’ve got time in the morning, you can’t go wrong with sitting down to plate of scrambled eggs and a smoothie. Yum!
For lunch, try dicing a chicken breast on top of your salad. Dinner is a great time for a piece of fish to go with your broccoli or cauliflower.
3. Whole Grains
Every pregnancy diet should include whole grains. Grains provide fiber to help keep you regular. Grains also provide thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin that aid your digestion and make it easier for the baby to absorb the nutrients it needs. We’ve found that between 6 and 11 ounces of whole grains like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, or rice make your pregnancy diet complete.
It’s easy to incorporate these whole grains into your meals. Just add a bowl of oatmeal to breakfast, make a turkey sandwich for lunch, and include a side of rice with your fish and broccoli in the evening.
4. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are one of the three main macronutrients—the others being carbohydrates and protein—that are necessary in every pregnancy diet. 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.
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. Though that may seem like a lot, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Here’s how to fit enough healthy fat in your pregnancy diet.
Add 6-8 almonds and 4-5 walnut halves to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you feel hungry between meals, try munching on a handful of sunflower seeds. And who doesn’t love a good ripe avocado? Splash on some olive oil and vinegar and you have a delicious, nutritious, and healthy-fat-packed side for any meal.
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. You could include a glass of milk with breakfast and lunch and a fruit-filled yogurt as a mid-afternoon snack. These are all great ways to get the calcium your body needs during your pregnancy.
We’ve listed this one last but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Your body, and your baby’s body, needs water to develop and function. For that reason, water should make up the majority of the liquids you consume every day.
Try to drink at least 8 cups of water daily to aid with hydration. Drink 2 cups of water first thing in the morning before breakfast and then 2 cups each with lunch and dinner. That’s 6 cups of water right there. That only leaves 1 cup between breakfast and lunch and 1 cup between lunch and dinner. Simple, right?
Rule #2: Do Your Best To Limit Excess Weight Gain
We’ve given a lot of attention to eating a healthy, well-balanced pregnancy diet in this article. That in itself should help you limit weight gain, but there are additional steps you can take to make limiting weight gain easier.
1. Eat At Least Three Meals A Day
Eating at least three meals a day provides the calories you and your baby need to stay happy and healthy. If you still feel hungry when eating three meals a day, include a smaller meal between your regular meals. Don’t be afraid to eat up to 7 times a day if necessary, but keep the meals small so you don’t consume too many calories.
2. Take Time To Savor Your Food
A great way to keep yourself full longer and to limit the weight gain that comes with overeating, is to take time to savor your food. We know you’ve probably got a busy schedule, but take a half an hour or more to really focus on and savor your food. A quick trick for making this easier is to chew each mouthful of food 30 times. This is also a great cure for morning sickness and nausea.
3. Keep Sugars To A Minimum
We know that chocolate is delicious, but try to keep sugar to a minimum. Your baby will thank you. Try to stay away from sugary drinks like pop and sports drinks. And avoid cold cuts and ready-made meals which are full of hidden sugar. To make this easier on yourself, we suggest you make all your meals at home from fresh ingredients and do your best to stay away from pre-packaged foods. Yes, reducing sugar may be a challenge at first, but you and your baby will be glad you did.
4. Snack On Healthy Foods
Snacking on healthy foods between meals is a great way to keep yourself from reaching for a piece of cake or bowl of ice cream. We’ve found that the best snacks are easy to carry when you’re on the go and can be eaten in a short amount of time. This includes foods like a piece of fruit, a small carton of yogurt, cherry tomatoes, raw broccoli or cauliflower, walnuts, almonds, raspberries, and blueberries.
Try setting small amounts of these foods out on your dinner table or on your desk at work so they’re easy to get to when your hunger strikes. That way you won’t be tempted to go for that oh-so-tempting 5-layer chocolate and raspberry cake your co-worker brought in for your team. Well, you may still be tempted, but maybe having these snacks right at hand will make it easier to resist.