Eating for two is a big responsibility!
Everything you eat affects your baby, and it’s very important that you get all the crucial vitamins and minerals needed to keep both you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy.
While a lot of mothers opt to take prenatal vitamins to supplement their diet, they’re really no substitute for just eating a full, balanced and healthy diet.
So, what are the best foods to eat while you’re pregnant? It’s a lot simpler than you might think! Generally, if it’s healthy, it’s pretty good for you and your baby. However, there are some things you’ll want to avoid for various reasons.
1. Beans (of all types)
Pregnant women need a lot of protein, and beans are one of the best sources for it! Kidney, navy, chickpeas, pinto; there are lots of different beans and they’re all really good for you and your baby.
Beans are the most protein-and-fiber-filled of all the vegetables. Also, lentils count as a bean, and just half a cup fills your daily folate requirement!
Fiber is also very important while you’re pregnant. Constipation becomes a problem during pregnancy, and fiber is the best way to help.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables
Veggies like kale, spinach and Swiss chard are chock-full of awesome nutrients like vitamin A, C and K, as well as folate. Cooked spinach and kale are great sources of the all-important iron, which pregnant women need a lot of. There’s a reason why Popeye loved it so much!
It’s easy to incorporate these veggies into your diet. Try switching up iceberg lettuce for darker greens, or add them to sandwiches or other cooked dishes!
3. Lean Meats
Another excellent source of protein! It also has a lot of iron, which is all-important for pregnant moms. Look for meats with the fat trimmed off, and go for white meats if possible, in particular chicken and pork.
If you decide to have red meats, try to get those that are labelled nearly fat-free.
However, you don’t want to eat deli meats or hot dogs very much, if at all. Not only are they a higher risk of parasites like salmonella, but they aren’t nearly as healthy overall and are full of nitrates and sodium, which you’ll want to avoid.
Not only are eggs a great protein source, but they have a lot of other vital nutrients like iron and vitamin D. Some eggs are also rich in Omega 3s, but look for those that specifically mention DHA, as these are the best for developing babies.
Eggs are also rich in choline, which helps developing babies and reduces the risk of neural tube defects.
A lot of pregnant women develop an aversion to meats during pregnancy, and eggs make an excellent substitute. If you’re worried about cholesterol, it’s mostly unwarranted.
While eggs do have saturated fats, they don’t have very much. And they do have cholesterol, that found naturally in foods doesn’t have much of a negative effect on your health.
It’s easy to incorporate eggs into your diet, and they’re easy and simple to make when you’re exhausted and just want something to eat. quick. Just boil or scramble up an egg or two and you have a great healthy snack!
Another great source of protein and Omega 3, salmon is something all pregnant women should eat. Salmon is also a great source of vitamin B-6 and potassium. This tasty fish is an excellent staple of any diet.
Don’t worry about mercury; salmon has low amounts of it unlike some other fish. However, experts suggest not eating more than 2-3 portions of salmon a week just to be safe.
Try to get wild salmon or organically-raised salmon to avoid PCBs which are commonly found in farmed salmon. Also, try to get skinless salmon and cook it thoroughly; most chemicals that accumulate fish are found in the skin and dark meat.
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of safe vitamin A!
They get their pink pigment from carotenoids, a pigment that is converted into vitamin A in the body. While it can be dangerous to take in too much vitamin A from meat, carotenoids are another story.
Your body will only convert them to vitamin A as needed, so there’s no risk of having too much of it.
They’re also great sources of vitamin C, folate and fiber.