Congrats! You’re pregnant. Now what? Here’s what you need to know about nutrition while you’re pregnant.
Things are always a little more overwhelming in the beginning. From the different monthly stages to keeping up with your health, there’s a lot of pressure on these moms-to-be. After all, they’re not just living for one person anymore – they’ve got a little guy or gal living inside of them, trusting them to make the right choices.
And of course, the lifestyle decisions you make while pregnant impact your unborn child. It can affect him or her long after birth, too.
For the most part, all women know that the foods (and drinks) they consume during pregnancy will affect their child’s health. But do you know exactly what to eat – and what not to eat?
That’s a question a lot of moms-to-be ask themselves as they go along. And winging it isn’t the way to do it, especially when you have a child to consider.
So we’ve compiled a list of foods and healthy choices you can make while pregnant in order to support your health and your baby’s.
Plus, these little tips can help prevent you from gaining an excessive amount of weight gain during pregnancy and certain risks that come with pregnancy.
What to Eat During Pregnancy: Getting Started
Let’s start with the basics. When you’re pregnant, you’re in a state of anabolism. While this might feel like you’re in a state of weight gain during pregnancy, this actually means you’re in a period of building.
Picture a weight lifter trying to gain a bunch of muscle through hardcore strength training. Well, that’s what your body is doing – you’re going into building mode to help give your baby a safe surrounding. But instead of building your muscle tissue, you’re going to be building your baby’s tissue.
Therefore, you’re going to need more everything than you usually would – calories, vitamins, carbs, fats, minerals, proteins. People aren’t kidding when they say you’re eating for two. You’re building tissue for two, too!
Now this doesn’t mean you get to go all nuts and start eating 5,000 calories a day.
According to recent research, you should aim for an additional 300 to 500 extra calories per day during pregnancy.
If you decide to exercise on a regular basis, you’re going to want to aim for closer to 500 additional daily calories. On the other hand, if you are not planning to exercise often, you should be just fine with the extra 300 calories per day.
Like we said, you’re going to be increasing your food intake, but you don’t want to take it to a whole new level. It can be as simple as adding 2 healthy snacks to your usual breakfast, lunch and dinner. An easy, well-set plan such as that will help you stay on track and not go overboard.
These snacks should be beneficial, too. Make sure they’re bursting full of important minerals and vitamins, since these are key to health. You want to make the right decision with your snack choices.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
We know it’s a touchy subject, but hear us out – you’re going to gain weight. There, we said it.
It’s going to happen. But it can be confusing knowing how much weigh gain during pregnancy is OK to gain and how much weight is…not OK to gain.
You might also find taking body measurements helpful and fun throughout the process of your baby’s growth.
Look at it this way – if you’re considered underweight (which you can easily find out at your doctor) you should plan to gain around 30 to 40 pounds. If you’re a normal weight, somewhere in between 25 to 35 will do. If you’re considered overweight, you should plan for about 15 to 25 pounds.
And it doesn’t stop with your weight. Your height also comes into plan. If you’re 5’2 or under, you should try to keep between 15 to 25 pounds of added weight.
Now look – these numbers aren’t set in stone. Your own personal weight may differ from this and that’s ok. Your body type comes into play here as well.
But for most healthy pregnancies, a decent combination of both exercise and healthy eating can help you stay away from excessive weight gain. Those two major factors will keep you in the “safe” around.
On the flip-side, not gaining enough weight can be just as harmful. If you’re a hardcore health and fitness addict, you’ll want to listen up.
With all the lies about dietary recommendations, there’s a lot to wade through.
A few solid studies show that not gaining enough weight can cause low birth weights in infants. This could possibly lead to delayed development.
Your weight helps determine the weight of the baby. So if you don’t gain enough weight, your baby isn’t going to either. The fetus stays small in order to protect your body.
So you want to be able to find a good balance when it comes to gaining weight.
And this comes down to what to eat during pregnancy.
When you think of pregnancy, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Maybe throwing up? And cravings. And then some more puking.
But just remember that you’re the one calling the shots here. You decide what you eat and what you don’t eat, so make your choices count.
Both caving to your junk food cravings or avoiding food because you don’t want to throw up have negative side effects on your unborn child. You’re opening him or her up to a ton of birth defect possibilities.
In fact, researchers say that improper nutrition (whether too much or too little food) can have some serious consequences for the baby later in life. Things like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are more likely to occur.
Don’t forget that movement is a nutrient to your body. Exercising while pregnant can be difficult but finding the right workout for your body can help boost your mood and health.
What to Eat When Pregnant
In terms of clean protein, you’re going to want to aim for eating .75 – 1 gram of protein per pound of your total body weight.This means if you weigh 140 pounds, you’re going to want to aim for 140 grams worth of protein in a day.
This is more difficult and more food than it sounds, so if you aim high you’ll usually get close to where you need to be. A natural Whey Protein Supplement can be helpful for reaching your goals.
Fortified breakfast cereals can be a great choice, too. It’ll give you a good dose of the B vitamins your body craves throughout the entire pregnancy. You should get about 400 micrograms of B vitamin, which isn’t hard to do with cereal. A lot of breakfast cereals have 400 micrograms per bowl so one bowl might do the trick for you.
If that’s not enough, a natural B-Complex Vitamin supplement can help.
Broccoli is also a great choice. It’s jam-packed with critical nutrients like folate and calcium, and high in fiber. Plus, with its awesome antioxidants, you can plan to feel and stay healthy. Added bonus: It’s full of vitamin C, which will help your body in absorbing various types of food that are rich in iron.
When picking out meats, try to get lean meats. If you can afford organic and grass-fed, that would be the best choice for you and your baby. Lean meats are also an excellent source of iron (which your body now needs double of). If you don’t have enough iron, you might feel extra tired.
Dairy can be a touchy subject for some pregnant women.
While some have no trouble with it, others stay away during their entire pregnancy. As a safe rule of thumb, if you can tolerate a small amount of dairy, go for it. Nonfat milk is a good choice, since your body is going to be absorbing about twice as much calcium from foods than usual.
You can estimate that an 8-ounce glass of nonfat milk gives you about 30% of the recommended daily dose of 1,000 milligrams.
Feeling awfully tired?
Try a banana! Bananas can help you fight the fatigue that usually comes with pregnancy – plus, they’re super rich in potassium. If you’re feeling sick to your stomach, they’re an easy thing to eat. Whether you want to eat them plain, throw them into your cereal, or make a smoothie, they’re always a safe bet.
Again, for the fitness gurus. If you’re hooked on your protein powders, switch over to an unsweetened, natural protein powder.
To get your dose of Omega-3‘s, you should go for things like walnuts, chia, flax, hemp and even seaweed.
Get on your bikini and get a nice dose of Vitamin D at least 2 to 3 times every week. Of course you want to keep in mind avoiding too much vitamin D. So, if you’d rather eat foods containing vitamin D, you can do that too.
Zinc is also extremely important and comes from things like nuts, whole grains and animal foods. Get as much of this as you can.
If you can’t do the dairy, you could try for foods rich in calcium. This includes things like tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, bok choy, dark leafy veggies, and even figs. Plus, these foods have a lot of iron in them as well.
What NOT to Eat During Pregnancy
It might seem like you’re limited in terms of what you can have to eat and drink during your pregnancy.
Keep in mind it’s only 9 months you won’t be able to have things like alcohol or tons of sugar.
In fact, it might even jumpstart an overall healthier lifestyle.
Regardless, you should aim to completely avoid (or minimize your intake) of things like alcohol and caffeine. If you have to have your caffeine fix, don’t go over 300 mg every day.
Cured meats and deli meats aren’t good choices for pregnant women either. Same with high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
As you’re probably aware, sugar can very toxic, take a look at Everything You Need to Know About Sugar for more info.
As always, you never want to use a craving as an excuse to eat junk food. Keep a clear, steady mind when it comes to your food and drink intake.
There are definitely certain foods pregnant women can’t eat at all. Those are raw and uncooked animal foods (like seafood, eggs and even meat). You also want to avoid cooked/raw shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel.
If you’re a cheese-lover, we’re about to break your heart.
While you can have some cheese, you need to stray away from soft cheeses. Those are the cheeses that are blue-veined and tend to go unpasteurized or are ripened in mold. You don’t want to expose you or your baby to those risks. But you can have things like cheddar cheese and mozzarella. In fact, they might even help you reach your calcium intake requirement for the day. One ounce of cheese has anywhere between 150 to 200 milligrams of calcium. Plus, it’s high in protein!
It may go without saying but we will say it over and over and over again – avoid smoke and tobacco products!
Your baby will be directly affected by these harmful products and the risks that come along with them. It isn’t worth it.
What Supplements to Take When Pregnant
A lot of medical professionals suggest that everyone take a multi-vitamin on a daily basis.
This goes for pregnant women especially. There’s tons of research that shows taking vitamins can help with every aspect of pregnancy, from cutting back on nausea to making you feel better overall.
When you go to get a multi-vitamin, there are a few things you want to look for. The vitamin should have a decent amount of B-vitamins. That includes things like B-12 and folic acid. You’ll want to get about 3 ug/day of the B-12 and around 400 ug/day for the folic acid.
If that’s a little too much math for you, stick with prenatal vitamins.
What’s the best prenatal vitamin?
There are so many to pick from in the market but without a doubt the best we’ve seen is the Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin. Some of these prenatal vitamins, including the Rainbow Light product can even help with your vitamin D intake. If you aren’t planning to get a lot of sun, you’ll want to look for a vitamin that has about 1,000 IU per day.
Research doesn’t lie – eating right while you are pregnant is key to a healthy baby.
You’ll want to pick the right foods (like the examples we gave you) and make sure your weight gain is healthy. You can always ask your doctor where you stand in terms of weight gain and if you need to cut back or not.
Plus, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’ve done absolutely everything you can to ensure a healthy baby. You’re also making your post-pregnancy body easier to transition back to. After all, you’re staying fit and healthy, so it won’t be a huge shock to continue this way.
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