What to add to your diet when preggo!
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I freaked out. What was I going to do? Was I ready to be a mom? What do I need to do to have as healthy a baby as I could have? I'd never really focused on my health before, but my baby made me take a serious look at the things I was putting into my body. I didn't just stop drinking altogether during my pregnancy, I decided to research and test the best eating habits for a pregnant woman.
While I was doing my research, I discovered that bad eating habits can impede fetal growth, and risk my baby being born underweight, which creates a higher long-term risk of health problems. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine even found that a mother's eating habits can directly correlate to some men's tendencies for obesity later in life.
Thanks to all that research, I found the right diet for me as well as the fundamentals of smart food choices for a pregnant woman.
Now, my baby boy is with me, and I want to share six of the most important things to think of when putting meals together during a pregnancy.
Make Sure to Add These Things to Your Diet While Pregnant
- Consume Foods High in Calcium
According to the National Institutes of Health, if you're over the age of 18, you should consume 1,000 mg (or roughly four servings) of foods rich in calcium per day. The National Osteoporosis Foundation offers you a comprehensive list of all the foods that contain calcium, as well as how much calcium you can find in each of them.
Yes, milk and dairy contain calcium. No, dairy is neither the only nor the best way to meet your calcium needs. Sardines, soy beans, collard greens, and even some nut milks are rich in calcium.
- Know Which Foods and Drinks to Avoid
Some foods are just bad for your baby's long-term health. Others can actually cause preterm labor, putting your baby's life at risk. We all know about the risks of alcohol, smoking, and caffeine on a fetus's health, although you can find out more from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For your baby's long-term health, avoid consuming raw meat and seafood—no fish sushi during pregnancy!—as they have more bacteria and parasites when they're uncooked.
Do your research to make sure that your home is only stocked with foods you can comfortably munch on without risking your baby's health. Health and Mind Care offers you an easy starting point to make sure both you and your baby are OK.
- Take Prenatal Supplements
You are nurturing a life inside of your body—make sure that you're getting what you need, even if that involves taking supplements to your meals and your cravings. Talk to your doctor about what supplements might benefit you the most.
In the meantime, the most common supplements pregnant women take are folic acid, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C.
- Don't Diet
The last thing you should be thinking about is losing weight during pregnancy, as this is one of the few times when weight gain is good. Don't focus either on your weight gain or your weight loss, hard as that might be—my postpartum depression had me feeling really bad about my body and rejecting my husband's compliments.
Instead of obsessing over how big you're getting, try focusing on how well you're eating. If you pay close attention to your health without needlessly restricting yourself—and slathering your body in almond or some other oil—you can help your body recover from the pregnancy.
- Get Your Protein In
Eat that meat! Or those beans, if you're a vegetarian. The American Pregnancy Association tells us that women need to eat anywhere between 75 and 100 grams of protein per day, so make sure that your diet is protein-rich, whether it's from animal or plant nutrients.. Some foods that are high in protein include chicken, yogurt, beans, soy, and milk.
- Exercise Food Prep Safety
Stay clean, even when you're not pregnant—but when you are, it's all the more important for your baby's well-being. Eating fruits and vegetables is absolutely necessary during your pregnancy for a balanced diet, but make sure that you wash it all really well before prepping and cooking it. Be all the more careful if you're eating the produce raw.
- Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
As I said, fruits and vegetables should be a staple in your diet. Listen to your cravings for all the junk food and meat you might want, but make sure that you pair whatever it is with something green or (naturally) fruity on the side.
Take my advice, but check with your doctor too. Pregnancy is a very personal experience that is unique to each woman and for each pregnancy—my sister-in-law had two very different experiences with her children.
Consider this list a starting point, and an encouragement to find out more about what a pregnant woman can easily do for her part to help her baby come out as healthy as can be.
Can you think of any other tips for eating a healthy diet when pregnant?
Kyla Thelmenn is a stay-at-home mom and a doula.
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