Eating for Two: A Nutritional Guide to Pregnancy
When you first find out you are carrying an itty-bitty baby inside of you, you become very protective. One way to really make sure you nourish your fetus is by feeding it the healthiest foods that contain the proper vitamins and nutrients it needs in order to flourish! If you’ve just gotten a positive pregnancy test, read on to learn the best foods for both of you to eat during each trimester.
The first trimester is week 1 through week 12 of your pregnancy (or approximately the first three months). You should be loading your plate up with leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and spinach, which contain a huge amount of nutrients. Not only will you have more energy, but your baby will be getting lots of folic acid, which is great for brain and spinal cord development. Can’t stomach chewing any greens right now? Blend them into a smoothie and drink them instead. Also, be sure to consume at least 3 servings of fruit (strawberries, blueberries, oranges, bananas) and 3 servings of dairy products each day. Most doctors suggest consuming at least 400 mg of Vitamin D, at least 100 mg of Vitamin C, and 200 mg or so of Calcium. Your prenatal vitamin will help cover areas you are deficient in, but any doctor will tell you that they prefer to eat your vitamins rather than rely on a supplement!
When it comes to eating, just remember that slow and steady wins the race. You may be completely starving, but you only realistically need to consume an extra 300 calories a day (think 2 glasses of milk or a bowl of oatmeal). Chips, chocolate, and French fries certainly are tempting (especially if you’ve regained your appetite from morning sickness), but you have to make health conscious choices. In the second trimester, consider focusing on foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help your baby’s brain development. You can munch of avocado, carrots, green beans, and peanut butter; to name a few. It is also important at this stage in the game to have a lot of variety on your plate at meal time. So, if you are having eggs for breakfast, consider mixing in spinach and some pasteurized cheese with a handful of cherry tomatoes. Skip the friend potatoes and opt for a slice of whole wheat bread with some almond butter. Meal planning should be a big part of your day, and you should also be drinking at least 10 glasses of water or more!
You’re finally in the homestretch! Continue taking those supplements, drinking lots of water, and balancing out your plate with all colors of the rainbow. In the third trimester, you may be getting your taste for meat back. Add some chicken to your salads, indulge in a well-cooked steak (from time to time), and even enjoy a slice of salmon. Your body needs iron and lots of protein to stay strong and give you enough energy for the birthing process. You may even notice you are starting to crave some spicy flavors, which is fine; as long as it doesn’t cause heartburn (and even in some cases, spicy foods tend to jump-start labor toward the very end!). You may also be getting sick of the same healthy foods you’ve been preparing for every meal, so it’s time to get creative so you aren’t bored at mealtime and will be more likely to follow through on your healthy eating routing after your baby is born. Experiment with spaghetti squash recipes, oatmeal bowls, and even veggie-filled soups.
Foods to Avoid
Many doctors recommend avoiding some foods during any stage in your pregnancy. They include:
- Sushi (or other raw fish)
- Hot Dogs
- Processed Lunch Meat
- Unpasteurized cheese (Brie, Feta)
- Fish High in Mercury (Swordfish, Mackerel)
These foods are more susceptible to harness harmful bacteria or high mercury levels, which can be a real threat to your fetus.
Be sure to nourish your bump and feed your baby and your body only the best, from one trimester to the next. After all, you’re now eating for two!