There are so many things to keep in mind when you are pregnant. Honestly, it can be overwhelming. However, along with remembering to take your prenatal vitamins keeping a healthy diet is extremely important. So, to ease some of your burden (especially for first-time moms), I made a list of foods to eat while pregnant.
Pregnancy Facts to Keep In Mind
- During pregnancy, your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
- Excess weight gain may also increase your risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy or birth complications
- The number of calories required will increase in the second and third trimesters
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian. The information presented is purely to share my experience. Check with a doctor before making any fitness or nutrition changes.
Foods to Eat While Pregnant
Protein and calcium are extremely important during pregnancy. Dairy products contain calcium and two kinds of high-quality protein: casein and whey.
Yogurt, particularly Greek Yogurt, is highly beneficial to consume while pregnant. Greek Yogurt contains more calcium than most dairy products, and some contain probiotics which aid in digestion. So, it is a win-win during pregnancy.
During both of my pregnancies, I craved milk and yogurt. I loved the yogurt cups that had the dried fruit or granola on top.
TIP: Probiotics during pregnancy may reduce your risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and vaginal infections.
Dried Beans and Lentils (Legumes)
- Soy Beans
Legumes are excellent sources of fiber, protein, iron, folate (B9) and calcium. Folate deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to low-birth-weight. Fiber can also help you fight off constipation, which happens a lot during pregnancy.
Broccoli and Dark, Leafy Greens
Broccoli and dark, leafy greens contain:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
They are also rich in antioxidants, which benefit the immune system and digestion.
Use caution on the broccoli. I love broccoli. However, when I was pregnant it gave me really bad acid reflux. That doesn’t happen with everyone, but it did happen to me. So be cautious until you see how your body is going to react during pregnancy.
TIP: Vitamin C, when eaten with iron-rich food, will help your body absorb more of the iron.
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts into Vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is extremely important for growth and fetal development. During pregnancy, you should up your Vitamin A intake by 10 to 40 percent during pregnancy.
TIP: Are you dealing with morning sickness? If so, sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin B6, which can help prevent morning sickness. On a personal note, I had HORRIBLE morning sickness with both pregnancies. I was even hospitalized with my oldest because I couldn’t keep anything down. One thing that really helped me was Peppermint. I would suck on Peppermint candies and the smell of Peppermint oil would ease my nausea.
Salmon (Eat the right fish!)
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help build the brain and eyes of your fetus. However, pregnant women are advised to limit their seafood intact. This is because of the mercury that can be found in some fish. This has kept many pregnant women from eating and seafood during pregnancy, which has led to many women not getting the amount of omega-3 that they need.
However, if you can’t get over the thought of mercury, you can buy omega-3 fatty acid supplements. In fact, that is what I did for both of my pregnancies and I still take them because they are good for heart health. Also, foods like including tofu, enriched eggs, and walnuts are also high in omega-3.
Beef, pork, and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline and other B vitamins. Iron plays a huge role in delivering oxygen to all cells in your body. Pregnant women are in need of more iron in their diet because their blood volume is increasing with the growth of the baby. Iron is particularly important in the third trimester when the baby is getting closer to full term.
TIP: If you tend to develop an aversion to red meat, like myself, you can find iron in other foods like beans, spinach, peas, and quinoa.
Avocados are an unusual fruit (yep, I said fruit!) They are considered a superfood, especially for pregnant women. Avocados are high in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E, and vitamin C. The healthy fats in avocados help build the skin, brain, and tissues of your baby.
TIP: Avocados have more potassium than bananas. So if you don’t really care for bananas, but love avocados then eat up because they can help with leg cramps too.
Bananas are rich in potassium and offer quick energy to help fight off that pregnancy fatigue. For me, bananas were very easy on my stomach after the really bad first-trimester bout of morning sickness. Potassium can also help with leg cramps. I had horrible leg cramps so I tried to eat a banana at night before bed.
Eggs are considered to be the ultimate health food because they contain a little bit of almost all the nutrients you need. As mentioned earlier, some women develop an aversion to red meat. If this is you, eggs are a great alternative for protein.
TIP: If strong smells bother you, you can hard boil the eggs and not have to deal with the smell.
Whole Grain Foods
Whole-grain foods are high in fiber, B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Oats and quinoa also protein. Oats are also full of fiber, which helps if you are dealing with constipation.
Tip: Another whole grain food is air-popped popcorn, which can also help with nausea because of how starchy it is.
Nuts are a great snack because they are easy to carry with you wherever you go. They are full of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and even calcium. I snacked on nuts a lot in my second and third-trimesters because they were easy to grab and a good energy boost.
Berries were also something that I snacked on a lot. They are full of water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. My doctor highly recommended blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.
During my second pregnancy, I had an addiction to mangos! Seriously, I think I could have eaten mangos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was in luck because mangos contain more vitamins A and C than a salad.
Oranges are packed with vitamin C, folate, and fiber, and since they’re nearly 90 percent water oranges can help you meet your daily fluid intake.
With my first pregnancy, during the second trimester when most of the morning sickness had subsided I went through a period of weird cravings. One of my weird cravings was I wanted a large orange juice with ice and a chili dog from Sonic…together. The thought of chili and orange juice together now makes me go “yuck,” but it was so good when I was pregnant.
Water is so important when you are pregnant!! It does the work of transporting nutrients and vitamins to your baby and helps them get absorbed properly. It is recommended to drink 68 ounces or 2 liters of water per day. Be aware of the symptoms of mild dehydration:
- Reduced Memory
Tip: When I would start getting a little tired of water, I started adding different fruits to my water. I found a few awesome recipes and tips to flavor-up my water here.
Just A Few More…
- Dried Fruit
- Fortified Breakfast Cereal
- Lots of milk
- Soy Foods (for protein intake)
- Figs (high in fiber)
- Artichokes (great for an energy boost)
- Red Bell Peppers (contains more Vitamin C than oranges)
In closing, what you eat during pregnancy does affect your energy and well-being. It can also affect the development of your baby. The best thing you can do for yourself and baby is to implement a healthy diet. Hopefully, this is a good start for you. However, do your research and talk to your doctor.
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31