Eat Your Way to a Healthy Pregnancy!
Taking good care of yourself during pregnancy is sometimes easier said than done. Eating healthy foods while dealing with changes in digestion as the baby grows can be challenging. Here are some basic tips for optimizing your diet.
Get Your Nutrient Know-How On!
Usually, you are what you eat…but in pregnancy, your baby is the direct recipient of what you eat. The foods you eat should be nutrient dense, providing the most bang for your buck in way of nutrition. Here are a few nutrients to focus on:
- Folic Acid helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. Your prenatal vitamin provides you with some folic acid, but you also get it in your diet from foods like strawberries, tomatoes, grapefruit, spinach, beans, and oatmeal.
- Iron: Blood volume increases by 50 percent during pregnancy, so iron levels are likely to drop. Bump your iron by choosing lean cuts of meat and poultry (and fish if you can stomach it!)
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C enhances your body’s absorption of iron. Eat vitamin C containing foods like fruits and vegetables along with iron foods to maximize your uptake.
- Calcium: Calcium needs to don’t increase during pregnancy, but keep in mind most non-pregnant women aren’t getting enough calcium. If dairy foods aren’t your thing, look to calcium-fortified milk alternatives like soy milk and almond milk or tofu set with calcium salts.
What’s the Deal with Cravings?
Craving foods during pregnancy that you never liked before? Don’t stress! Cravings are a normal part of some pregnancies and are simply one way your body lets you know it is undergoing hormonal changes.
If you do find yourself with a hankering for a certain food, here’s how to handle it:
- Give in! As long as you can keep the foods you are craving to reasonable portion sizes, it’s probably ok to go for it. There’s nothing wrong with pretzels for breakfast or pancakes for dinner. Be sure to eat a variety of foods and you’ll likely be fine.
- Some women experience pica, a condition characterized by the craving of non-food substances like laundry starch, dirt, or pieces of pottery. If this pertains to you, speak up at your next medical appointment. Some (not all) cases of pica may be indicative of other nutrient deficiencies your healthcare practitioner can help you identify.
Now that I’m Pregnant…How Much Can I Eat?
The saying “eating for two” is pretty misleading. The Institute of Medicine’s weight gain during pregnancy guidelines recommend that a woman with a healthy pre-pregnancy weight should gain 0-5 pounds during her first trimester and then 1 pound per week beginning at the start of her second trimester for a total of 25-35 pounds by the end of pregnancy.
Following this recommended rate of weight gain will help optimize birth outcomes – and get you back to your pre-pregnancy weight after delivery faster. To keep your pregnancy weight gain in check, follow these guidelines for additional calories:
- 1st trimester: you do not need any additional calories (because you do not need to gain any additional weight during the first trimester – unless you are underweight at conception)
- 2nd trimester: eat an additional 340 calories per day above your baseline needs (if you ate 1,800 calories per day before pregnancy, get at least 2,140 during your 2nd trimester)
- 3rd trimester: eat an additional 450 calories per day above your baseline needs (if you ate 1,800 calories per day before pregnancy, get at least 2,250 during your 3rd trimester)
Incorporating healthy snacks between meals is a great way to meet the increased calorie needs of your 2nd and 3rd trimester without going overboard. Try foods like whole grain breads, lowfat dairy, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Somersault snacks contain 140-160 calories per serving and can be a great part of your pregnancy snack routine. For more information about pregnancy nutrition check out ChooseMyPlate.gov’s Health and Nutrition for Pregnant Women page at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html. For more information about Somersault snacks, visit: http://www.somersaultsnackco.com/.