Sticking to a healthy diet while fighting food cravings and morning sickness can be a challenge, but not impossible during pregnancy.
Here are five food tips from nutritionist and mom-to-be Jessica Woodruff, MPH on eating healthy while pregnant.
1. Eat lots of Nutrient dense foods.
It can be easy to overeat during pregnancy, especially with all the cravings and an increased appetite. Sticking with nutrient dense foods not only provides all the proper nutrients for you and your growing baby, but will help keep you fit and full.
2. Avoid nutrient deficient foods.
Reduce unneeded extra calories but cutting down on foods high in fat and added sugars such as sugary drinks, sweets, refined carbohydrates, and fried foods. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional sweet treat, but don’t go crazy!
3. Optimize Iron Intake.
During pregnancy, iron needs increase since you’re making more red blood cells to carry enough oxygen through both you and your baby’s body. Make sure you are eating enough iron rich foods, such as legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, white beans and lentils), vegetables/dried fruit (spinach, peas, dried prunes, dried apricots) and grains (quinoa and fortified breads and cereals). Even dark chocolate is packed with iron!
4. Make sure you get all your Folic acid.
Folic acid is needed for long-term health and to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Make sure to take a prenatal vitamin with at least 400mg of folic acid and eat foods rich in folic acid, such as green leafy vegetables, asparagus, legumes, sunflower seeds and fortified grain products.
5. Up your fiber intake.
A fiber rich diet is always important for good digestion, and since pregnant women are prone to constipation, we may have to increase our fiber intake to avoid problems such as hemorrhoids. Replace white rice, bread and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products for an added fiber boost. Whole fruits and vegetables are a great source of fiber. Prunes are particularly good for keeping things moving. If you are constantly struggling with morning sickness and nausea (like me!), consider tossing everything in a blender for a quick healthy smoothie.
Jessica will be giving a workshop on “Eating Healthy During and After Pregnancy” on March 1st at Belle Maternity.