Eating During Pregnancy
Being pregnant is a beautiful experience. It is also a delicate period in a woman’s life. The fear that something could go wrong is always constant and that is why pregnant women are advised to be real careful in the choices they make during this period, this includes, diet choice. What you eat during pregnancy can, to a large extent, affect how the pregnancy turns out. You know that your baby now depends on you for nutrition (what you eat, she eats), so you should choose foods that have immense health benefits.
There are certain foods that are powerhouses of nutrition. These are the foods you should eat through out your pregnancy. Babycenter.com suggests the following:
In addition to more than 12 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain lots of quality protein, which is essential for pregnancy.
“Your baby’s cells are growing at an exponential rate, and every cell is made of protein” Elizabeth Ward (dietitian and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy) explains. “Plus, as a pregnant woman, you have your own protein needs.”
Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby’s overall growth and brain health, while helping prevent neural tube defects. Some eggs even contain omega-3 fats, important for both brain and vision development. (Brands that have omega-3s will probably state it on the label. Look for DHA-enriched eggs because those contain the most beneficial form of omega-3s.).
“Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat,” Ward says. 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,” says Ward.
You already know that 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.
In addition, says Ward, food that contains fiber tends to be rich in nutrients. This is certainly true of beans, which are good sources of iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.
Sweet potatoes get their orange color from carotenoids, plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies, says Ward.
Although consuming too much “preformed” vitamin A (found in animal sources, such as liver, milk, and eggs) can be dangerous, carotenoids are a different type. They’re converted to vitamin A only as needed, so there’s no need to restrict your consumption of vitamin A-rich fruits and veggies.
Whole grains are important in pregnancy because they’re high in fiber and nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, and phytonutrients (plant compounds that protect cells).
“Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s,” says dietitian Kate Geagan, author of Go Green, Stay Lean. “A handful of walnuts is a great choice for an on-the-run snack or an addition to a salad.”
While plant-based omega-3s don’t provide much of the DHA that will benefit your baby, they’re still good for both of you. Walnuts are also a good source of protein and fiber.
Dark Green, Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and other green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as the all-important folate. They’ve also been found to promote eye health, Geagan says.
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,” explains dietitian Jodi Greebel, owner of Citrition, a nutrition counseling service in New York.
Hosenfeld points out another advantage of eating across the fruit and veggie spectrum: “During the later stages of pregnancy, the baby ‘tastes’ the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid,” she says. “So 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.”