What's A Healthy Balanced Diet When You're Pregnant?
What's good food for Mom and Baby?
When you’re pregnant, eating well is more important than ever. Your diet can do a lot to support your health and the health of your baby, but it can be hard to keep eating the right things when you’re sick or tired. So, here are some tips for eating well during your pregnancy and some key things to add to your diet.
You Don’t Have to Eat for Two
You’ve probably heard the phrase that you’re ‘eating for two’, but you don’t actually need to eat a lot more when you’re pregnant. You might be more hungry than you normally would be, but it’s still important to manage your portions and stick to a balanced diet.
During the first six months of pregnancy, you should try to stick to your normal recommended daily calorie intake — there’s no need to eat a lot extra. When you reach the third trimester you might need to add around 200 calories to your diet, but this will depend on how active you are as well.
What to Avoid Eating
Besides the obvious things like alcohol and caffeine, there are a few things you should avoid or reduce your intake of while pregnant including:
- High sugar content foods like chocolate, cakes, biscuits, and soft drinks. These foods provide very few nutrients compared to a high number of calories and could contribute to extra weight gain.
- Cut back on salt as this can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Avoid soft mold-ripened cheeses like brie, soft blue cheeses, unpasteurized milk as these may contain a bacteria called listeria.
- Limit the amount of oily fish as they can contain certain pollutants harmful to your baby. You should also eat limited amounts of tuna as it contains more mercury than other fish.
Key Vitamins and Minerals
While it’s good to maintain a fairly balanced diet while you’re pregnant there are a few key nutrients that you need to focus on.
- Iron: You’ll need almost twice as much iron when you’re pregnant as you would usually.
- Calcium: Boost your calcium intake to ensure your baby builds strong bones, muscles, and nerves.
- DHA: This omega-3 fatty acid helps with brain and eye development.
- Folic acid: Getting enough folic acid each day will reduce the risk of certain complications.
- Iodine: A key mineral that also helps with brain and nervous system development.
You can get most of these from what you eat, but in some cases, it might help to take additional vitamins to make sure you’re getting enough. For example, there are supplements such as these that provide key things like l-methylfolate, which is a source of folic acid and can keep you healthy throughout pregnancy.
What are the Best Foods to Eat?
Incorporating some of these foods into your diet will also help boost your intake of the key vitamins and minerals you need when you’re pregnant. If you struggle to keep track of your diet then try using a meal planner app like this one, so that you can work out what you’re going to eat and make sure it includes a balance of all the key nutrients.
Green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach are high in protein and fiber, which will help with digestion. But they also contain some key things like potassium, calcium, and iron, so adding them to your meals will boost your intake.
Dairy products are going to be a good source of calcium, but one of the best options is yogurt. Not only does it have plenty of calcium, but it’s also full of protein and folic acid. Stick to plain yogurts as flavored ones often have high sugar levels.
Carrots and sweet potatoes
Carrots and sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, which gets converted into vitamin A by your body. It’s a key vitamin for supporting the development of the eyes, skin, and organs in your baby.
Eating lean meats like beef and pork is a good way to add protein to your diet. Plus they’re also a good source of iron, choline, and B vitamins.
Avocados have a high amount of fiber, potassium, folate, as well as monounsaturated fatty acids, all of which are key to a healthy pregnancy.
Lentils have a really high protein and iron content, and on top of that, they’re also rich in folic acid, which means they’re great to add to your diet. You can add them to lots of different things like soups, stews, and curries, plus they contain a lot of fiber to help your digestive system too.
Most Important of All? Making Sure Your Diet is Balanced!
While you don’t need to dramatically increase the amount you’re eating during pregnancy, it is important that your diet is balanced and you’re following healthy recipes that boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. Focus on eating lots of fruit and vegetables as well as a range of protein, calcium, and carbohydrates, to help keep you and your baby healthy throughout the pregnancy.
We Want to Hear From You
How have you been eating while pregnant?