Pregnancy brings about a dramatic change in your diet. You’re eating for two now, and some food products may not be right for your developing baby. So you need the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. You’ll need more folate, calcium, iron, and protein than a woman isn’t on the way.
Of course, heed your obstetrician’s advice on what you can and cannot eat. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to the food groups you need to include in your daily meals.
Fruits and vegetables
A lot of fruits and vegetables contain the key vitamins and nutrients you’ll need during pregnancy. Folic acid and vitamin C are among the most important vitamins to include in your diet.
Aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, fresh or frozen. You’ll need at least 70mg of vitamin C daily, which you can find in fruits, such as grapefruits, oranges, and honeydew; and in vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes.
You need to consume extra servings of dairy and protein to meet the growing needs of your baby. Dairy products contain calcium and protein that are beneficial to your pregnancy. Greek yogurt and probiotic drinks support digestive health. These also help reduce minor complications in pregnancy, such as: allergies, gestational diabetes, and vaginal infections.
Aim for three to four servings a day. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all ideal, low-fat sources of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Dairy-based food also provides high amounts of various B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Protein helps build the vital organs of your baby, such as the heart and the brain. Include good protein sources in your diet; go for lean beef, pork, chicken, and fish. For nonmeat options, try dried beans, peas, nuts, eggs, and tofu.
Consider at least three servings of lean meat a day. Aside from protein, eating these will also supply you with fiber, iron and B-vitamins. Iron is also an essential mineral needed in your diet. Since your blood volume is increasing, you’ll need twice as much iron minerals to carry oxygen to all the cells in your body.
Salmon gets special mention because it’s a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in the development of your baby’s eyes and brain. This yummy, nutritious fish is also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is responsible for bone health and immune functions in your body.
Your doctor, though, might warn you to limit seafood intake due to their mercury content. You may opt out of eating fish altogether to avoid contaminants in seafood. But you also risk limiting your omega-3 intake. Check with your doctor about a suitable substitution so that you’re still able to get that critical nutrient.
It can be a wonderful time when you’re expecting, especially since you’ve license to eat more than you usually do. And in your excitement, you may get carried away with every bit of dish you see and smell. You may crave pizza with donuts washed down with kombucha tea — in one deliciously weird meal; or you may obsess eating just organic food.
Whichever pregnancy munchies strike you, always check with your doctor if it’s going to be good for you and your baby in the long run.