What to eat when pregnant

When you’re eating for two it is important to follow a healthy and well-balanced diet.

You will find your food portions will change a bit and you should be bringing in certain foods that are especially high in the nutrients as you need will be beneficial to you and your growing baby.

Here below are some of my important pregnancy diet guidelines I offer my clients:

Eat a balanced diet:

Eat a balance of high-quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Protein consumption is especially important during pregnancy because it’s needed to maintain the mother’s tissues and fetal growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. Health fats are important especially DHA, are needed for fetal development and infant growth.

During pregnancy, I wouldn't recommend that you follow any exclusion diets unless you have to because of a food allergy. Clinical research shows that excluding whole categories of foods from your diet increases your risk of micronutrient deficiencies.

Calorie intake:

Pregnancy only requires a slight increase in calorie intake, and consuming too many calories during pregnancy can be just as damaging as a calorie or nutrient deficiency, increasing your chances of miscarriage, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and your baby’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity in adulthood.

Most studies suggest consuming an additional 70 calories in your first trimester, 260 calories in your second trimester and about 300–400 additional calories in your third trimester.

These finding are for women who are moderately active, doing exercise that’s equivalent to walking about 30 minutes per day.

Keep empty calories to a minimum:

Of course, you are entitled to your occasional treat during pregnancy. After all, you certainly deserve to indulge a bit here and there. But keep foods containing empty calories to a minimum because not all calories are created equal. You want your calories, the energy that is fueling you and your baby, it be full of nutrients. So maybe choose to have that ice cream cone once a week, but don’t make it part of your everyday diet. Maybe choose real foods, like fresh fruit, as a sweet treat instead.

Eat every colour:

Eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables throughout the day. This will ensure that you are getting a range of important vitamins and minerals in your diet. Your plate should be colourful, so if you see a lot of whites and browns, you know that meal isn’t providing everything you need for a truly healthy pregnancy.

Make it easy:

I know it seems overwhelming to think about providing adequate nutrition for you and your baby, so making it as easy as possible is key. If you can’t muster the thought of eating a plate of greens (especially during the phase of morning sickness and food aversions), then prepare a sweet and creamy smoothie instead. Make a large pot of soup with organic chicken and vegetables and make that lunch or dinner for the week. Whatever you can do to make staying healthy easier will help you to keep it going for the long haul.

Keep drinking water:

Water is needed for building your baby’s body cells and for assisting with the developing circulatory system. You also need to drink plenty of water while pregnant in order to deliver nutrients to your baby and excrete wastes. Drink 1–2 glasses of water with every meal and snack, and carry around a refillable water bottle with you during the day.

Best Foods & Superfoods

1. Fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens)

Vegetables are an important part of a pregnancy diet because they are nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and lower in carbohydrates and calories.

Green leafy vegetables are especially beneficial because they’re packed with iron, calcium and vitamin K — three important nutrients for pregnant women. Add leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens and turnip greens to your meals.

Broccoli is another beneficial vegetable because it contains fiber, vitamin C, manganese and magnesium. And so are Brussels sprouts, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cabbage, squash and bell peppers.

2. Fresh fruit

Eating fresh fruit throughout your pregnancy will ensure that you’re getting nutrients like Vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and fiber. Eat an array of fruits like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, mango, papaya, peaches, grapefruit, apples, pears, tangerines and pineapple. Fresh fruit can be added to yogurt or oats for breakfast, used to make a fruit and veggie smoothie, added to salads for lunch and dinner, or eaten as a snack between meals.

3. Organic Free-Range Eggs 

Eggs, specifically egg yolk, are really an excellent source of choline, which is very important for fetal development. Research shows that women eating diets that are lower in choline content are at a significantly greater risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect than women eating diets higher in choline content.

Organic eggs also contain healthy fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene and iodine. Eating iodine rich foods during pregnancy is also very important because iodine plays a major role in the healthy growth and brain development of infants.

4. Wild-caught salmon

The ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are vitally important for the proper neurological and physical development of a fetus. Salmon nutrition includes these vital omega-3s and many other important nutrients for pregnancy, including vitamin D, iodine, choline, B vitamins, selenium and protein.

5. Organic meat 

Protein’s amino acids are essential for the development of your baby, so eating plenty of good quality, organic protein is very important. Aim to eat at least three servings, or 75 grams of protein per day. Some of the best options are organic chicken breast, organic turkey and grass fed beef. These foods have l-glutamine, and there are several l-glutamine pregnancy benefits.

6. Nuts and seeds

Nuts, like almonds, contain protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, folate and copper, and brazil nuts contain selenium, phosphorus and vitamin E. Eating an array of nuts during pregnancy can boost your overall nutrient intake.

Seeds are also great sources of protein and fiber, which will support your colon and digestive tract during pregnancy. Flax seeds and chia seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that aren’t present in fish. These omega-3 foods will benefit your skin, hair and nails during pregnancy.

7. Beans

Lima beans are rich in iodine, garbanzo, kidney and pinto beans are high in folate, and favbeans contain iron, zinc, copper and vitamin K. Some other nutritious beans include cannellini beans, adzuki beans, black beans and anasazi beans. Eating an array of beans during pregnancy can be beneficial because they are filling and nutrient-dense.

8. Lentils

Lentils are an excellent source of folate, which plays a crucial role in fetal development. Studies show that consuming high-folate foods during pregnancy reduces the risk of the fetus developing cardiovascular and urinary tract defects, neural tube defects and cleft lips.

9. Grains

Whole grains like gluten free oats, quinoa, brown rice and barley provide complex carbohydrates that are needed during pregnancy. Grains also contain B vitamins that are vital for your baby’s development, and minerals like zinc, selenium and chromium.

Best Supplements

Most prenatal vitamins contain the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals that are specifically needed for pregnancy. When you are choosing a prenatal vitamin, make sure that it contains the following nutrients:

Iron: Iron supplementation is often recommended during pregnancy to improve birth outcomes. Iron plays an essential role in the transfer of oxygen to tissues and pregnant women are at higher risk of iron deficiency due to the increase of iron demand.

Folate (Folic Acid): Folate is needed during pregnancy is needed for the prevention of neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which can be found naturally in high folate foods. Prenatal vitamins typically contain 0.8 to 1 milligrams of folic acid and ideally folate supplementation should begin three months before pregnancy. Remember to look for folate and not folic acid (synthetic version of folate that can cause issues with MTHFR genetic conditions).

Calcium: Calcium is essential for fetal development and building your baby’s bones. Getting enough calcium during pregnancy reduces your risk of preterm labor, low birth weight, bone loss and high blood pressure. Calcium deficiency is dangerous for both the mother and child because it helps your circulatory, nervous and muscular systems to function properly. Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is very common in pregnant women and it’s associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. The risks of low vitamin D levels for the infant include low birth weight, impaired skeletal development, respiratory infections and allergic diseases in the early years of life. Vitamin D is typically included in a prenatal multivitamin. Studies on vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy indicate that the suggested safe dose is between 2,000–4,000 IUs per day, if autoimmunity conditions are present it is best to see your naturopath for assistance.

Choline: Choline is present in prenatal vitamin supplements, but not in adequate amounts. That’s why pregnant women need choline rich foods like eggs, chickpeas, wild salmon, grass-fed beef and turkey breast.

Choline is an essential nutrient for fetal development and because a mother delivers large amounts of choline across the placenta to the fetus, she needs to make sure she’s getting enough choline with a combination of diet and supplementation. Research suggests that poor choline intake among pregnant women can adversely affect maternal and fetal responses to stress, increase the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects and a cleft lip, and negatively effect fetal brain development.

Some other supplements that should be taken if they aren’t added to your prenatal vitamins include:

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for the proper brain growth and eye development of your baby. DHA also reduces inflammation, which is the leading cause of complications during pregnancy. Look for a prenatal vitamin that has DHA added, and if yours doesn’t, take a separate DHA/ EPA supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough of these important omega-3s.

Probiotics: Research shows that your gut microbiome is a key factor for maintaining during pregnancy and a lack of good bacteria in your gut can lead to pregnancy complications. Studies indicate that taking a probiotic supplement during pregnancy can help to prevent preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, infant and maternal weight gain, and allergic conditions.

During your pregnancy, it’s so important that you keep your stress levels to a minimum, work on your spiritual growth and well-being, nurture your body and soul, and get plenty of rest. Listen to your body and if you are feeling run down and fatigued, make rest a priority. To keep yourself feeling at peace during a time that can feel very stressful and cause anxiety, take long walks outdoors, read, find support from your family and friends.

It’s also so important that you stay physically active during pregnancy in order to reduce your risk of conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and perinatal depression, improve your mood, reduce your discomfort, boost your energy levels and improve your labour. Some of the best pregnancy workouts include walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, cycling and strength training.

If you would like to book in for a pregnancy support Naturopathic support appointment then please feel free to book via the "Booking" tab or to contact me on 0425 744 078.


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