Are you confused yet about all the things you should and shouldn’t be doing, should and shouldn’t be eating? Eating well during your pregnancy can not only be super beneficial to your little baby but can also make a world of a difference in your pregnancy. One of the biggest myths when it comes to food and pregnancy is that you are ‘eating for two’ when realistically, you only really need an additional 200-300 calories per day.
Here are some of the top food and nutrient recommendations I make for a healthy pregnancy:
- Protein – Athletes love loading up on protein because it helps repair and build tissues. This includes DNA, blood cells, nails, hair, skin, muscle, etc. For this same reason protein is super essential to you and your growing baby. Regular protein intake (three meals and regular snacks) will also help stabilize your blood sugar levels helping to maintain your energy levels and reduce your likelihood of developing gestational diabetes. When your blood sugar levels are more stable you will be less apt to experience cravings and the need to chow down on junk food which will help you healthfully gain weight.
Sources of proteins include high quality meats (you want to reduce your toxic intake as much as possible during pregnancy so you aren’t passing toxins on to your unborn baby) chicken, beef, low-mercury fish, eggs, whole grains, beans, lentils, brown rice, nuts and seeds are all good options. For vegetarians you will need to be combining these sources to create complete proteins. Soy products I would choose organic and keep to a minimum since it alters your bodies estrogen levels and can do weird things to your baby’s development.”
- Healthy Fats (omega 3’s, DHA and EPA) are essential for proper brain and nervous system development. Commonly many women (and people in general) are already low on these essential fats which makes them that much more essential for pregnant women. When you are pregnant, the baby gets first dibs on all of your nutrients and has the potential to quickly deplete your stores. It’s important to ensure that your baby is getting all of the healthy fats they require for good brain development, cognitive functioning, eye sight, development of the nervous system and hormones (among many other things!) but also important that you maintain enough for your own healthy functioning. How often have you heard women complain of ‘baby brain’? Your brain is very much made up of these healthy fats and when your baby starts leeching your scarce nutrients your cognitive functioning may decline resulting in this memory loss and brain fog. Sources of good fats include fatty fish (fresh salmon is one of the best options), nuts, coconut, and avocado. If you are pregnant you will likely want to increase and maintain good levels of these important fats so taking a fish oil supplement is generally a good idea. I tend like Genestra and NutraSea brands beacuase they are quality brands and also they taste the best. You can typically find them at your local health food store or grocery store.
- Iron – Once you get into your second and third trimester it’s important you take a good iron supplement as your blood volume will begin to rapidly increase. Although your iron levels may not technically change, because of the increase of blood your iron levels will basically be diluted. Iron is very important for baby’s development and maintaining your energy levels. After baby is born they will continue to get their iron supply from your breast milk so you will want to ensure your levels are high enough that you can manage and not add another reason for you to be exhausted! Be aware that iron can be very constipating so you may need to test out a few different kinds to find one that works for you. Your family doctor or midwife should be able to help you with this.
- Prenatal vitamins – During pregnancy your body is going through an enormous amount of change, it really is quite incredible what we are capable of! Choosing a good prenatal vitamin will let you experience this transformation more smoothly. Supplements can be confusing, misleading and expensive. When looking at supplements you want to look at three things. A) you are getting the right dosages to actually make an impact and properly support you and your baby. B) They aren’t full of junk and fillers. C) That the nutrients are in the most natural form so that your body is able to actually absorb and utilize them. It is very difficult to get all of the nutrients you need strictly from diet, especially during pregnancy. Remember that your baby is going to dip into all of your nutrient stores to take what they need to thrive. If you aren’t replenishing and maintaining those stores your baby may not get all they need and you may even run into negative issues in the future (i.e. weak bones due to calcium depletion) Keeping your stores up during pregnancy may also help relieve morning sickness, headaches, muscle aches and pains, and just a general sense of good well being.
The human body, especially that of a woman, is a truly incredible thing! The fact that we can create life is totally awe-inspiring. The pressure we have (and that we put on ourselves) during this time can be quite a heavy load so in general if take your prenatal vitamins and focus on eating a diet loaded with good whole foods you will be off to the races! Enjoy this wonderful time and be kind to yourself.
*Please note that all information in this post is strictly that, information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Talk with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist if you have specific concerns about nutrition during pregnancy.
After years of her own fertility struggles, Katie realized the importance of educating women on the impact of healthy bodies to create healthy babies. Katie works with women who are looking to start a family to get their bodies baby ready. She strongly believes this is the best approach to ensuring healthy pregnancies, babies and long term health for our community. Before receiving her Holistic Nutritionist designation, she worked in the restaurant industry, including two years at Niagara College completing the Culinary Management program. She also completed a degree in Community Health Sciences from Brock University. Helping our community improve their health and wellness has always been her passion.
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