During pregnancy, it is crucial to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Just because you are growing a baby doesn’t mean you can eat anything.
Your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals (more on essential vitamin intake in here). Lack of them may negatively affect the baby’s development.
Bad eating habits also rises the risk of diabetes, may lead to premature birth and general complications during your pregnancy. What’s more, excessive gain weight may cause your baby to grow bigger than it supposed to and slow down the labor, making the delivery more painful,
I can bet that’s the last thing you would want! So, have a look and my tips for the best food for pregnancy. It is really not difficult to find healthy food out there, it’s just a matter of choice.
Top 10 foods that are good for you and your baby:
Let me lay out few snacks that are packed with nutritional ingredients, are tasty as well as affordable and easy to get in any supermarket :
- yogurt– especially Greek yogurt, is rich in calcium and probiotic bacteria so it’s super beneficial for pregnant women and gentle to our digestive system. Top up with some cereals or muesli and you got a perfect breakfast or a snack for the day.
- eggs– contain necessary calcium and vitamin D, both very important in pregnancy. Additionally, they are source of choline. Never heard of it? Choline is responsible for many processes in the body, including proper brain functioning.
- avocado– source of iron, fiber, potassium. Eat it sliced with some cheese crackers or wholegrain toast and you get yourself much more nutritional snack than potato crisps
- mango, oranges– contain fiber, potassium and vit C. Slice it before you leave to work and put in the container; they are great to eat on the go, any time of the day.
- oats- rich in fiber and antioxidants. I like to have them in porridge made on coconut milk; add some cranberries (another great thing in pregnancy looking after your urinal system), sesame or sunflower seeds or mix them all, topping up with honey. Delicious for breakfast! Alternatively, look for a granola bar which contains oats, there’s plenty of choice out there.
- carrots– contain beta carotene which the body transforms into vitamin A; it is needed for the baby’s cell growth. Note: since it is easy to get enough of vit A from foods that we consume daily (such as tomato, milk, eggs and oranges), the doctors don’t recommend taking any supplements containing this vitamin as you may easily overdose and harm your baby) .
- nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) and dried fruits- contain omega 3; great to eat as a snack between the meals as it kills your hunger for a while
- banana with peanut butter– perfect combination when you’re craving something sweet. Banana is a good source of vitamin B6 and magnesium while from peanut butter you will get sufficient amount of potassium.
- berries– are rich in antioxidants and contain healthy carbs, vitamin C and fiber. Its high levels of compounds help maintain the accurate blood flow. Making a smoothie out of them is a great idea; simply mix berries with raspberries and strawberries and you get yourself a fruity vitamin bomb! Or you can play with the ingredients; if you prefer adding some diary into it, mix berries with a sliced banana, Greek yogurt/ milk and add some honey. Yummy!
And what to eat for dinner?
- Salmon= contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are important for brain and eye development in the growing baby. Salmon is also a natural source of vitamin D. Its easy to prepare in the oven,:add some smashed garlic and oregano, wrap around with kitchen foil and bake in the oven for about 20 min. Voila!
- broccoli and leafy greens, such as spinach and kale= valuable source of fiber, vitamin C, K and A, as well as calcium, iron, folate and potassium. Mix with pasta and king prawns; by adding some sweet chili sauce you will make it a type of Thai food!
- lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans = rich in folate (crucial especially in first 12 weeks of pregnancy) and fiber
- lean meat such as beef= rich in proteins, iron and vit B12. Serve with earlier mentioned beans adding some gravy for a flavor.
- quinoa– alternative to rice that provides you and your baby with double portion of proteins, more fiber and additional magnesium as well as folate. You can make a great salad out of it that will fill your stomach. Add some avocado, falafel, feta cheese and some veggies of your choice (I liked peppers and sweet corn) and salad becomes a meal.
- sweet potato= is a great source of vitamin A, B and C. Also, you will get a fair amount of fiber, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and copper. You can grill them or bake them, serving with salmon or meat; you can’t get any healthier than that!
How many calories shall I be eating daily?
So as mentioned before, you don’t need to ‘eat for two’ in order to gain weight and help your little one to grow. In fact, it is not recommended even if you are expecting twins!
In the first and second trimester you should eat the same as usual, so for an average woman it equals about 2,000 calories a day. The reason behind is that your energy ‘demand’ doesn’t change in the first six months of pregnancy. Only in the last trimester you’ll need an extra 200 calories a day since the mothers’ energy starts to increase; this amount is not much at all, it is like having 2 more slices of wholemeal toast with margarine or cottage cheese daily.
Keep in mind that every pregnancy and every woman is different, so the number of extra 200 calories is only based on average recommendations.
The real number of calories you need while you are pregnant depends on:
- your height
- your BMI (body mass index)
- your activity (how fast you burn calories)
Final tips: don’t skip breakfasts as they are very important to maintain your energy level throughout the day and they will help you to avoid eating unhealthy snacks (high in fat and sugar such as doughnuts and biscuits).
Also, remember to eat regularly, up to 6 times a day: 4 times smaller portions of snacks/fruits/veggies and 2 bigger, nutritional meals during the day. The best meals will be based on starchy, wholemeal foods like bread, rice and pasta.
It’s really not that challenging to keep a varied diet; it often means only changing the amounts of different foods you eat rather than cutting out all your favorites.
If you still need an extra incentive to eat healthily, here’s one: you will recover after pregnancy and get into your old shape much sooner than when eating too much junk food!
So just make sure you get the best foods as often as possible; and don’t feel guilty if you have that craving for a pizza or a burger once in a while. After all, anything in moderation won’t harm you or your baby.