Easy Ways to Eat Healthy During Pregnancy 

Shandra Martinez

| 4 min read

Future mother eating healthy food
Whether it’s your first baby or you’re a labor-and-delivery veteran, eating during pregnancy always deserves some special attention. Sure, you’re eating for two and cravings are a natural part of those nine months for lots of women. But as much as you might want to, regularly steering through your favorite drive-thru lane is not going to be the best option. However, there are many easy – and delicious – ways to eat healthy during your pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, there are so many things to think about. Your health care providers are there to guide you through every stage, but even so you find yourself thinking about everything from special vitamins and birth plans to details like what color to paint the nursery and what kind of diapers to use. So know that when you’re committed to eating healthy during your pregnancy, it might not be as hard as you think. In fact, the same good nutrition patterns you’re probably already used to are the ones recommended during pregnancy: lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products and lots of water.

Special nutrients

More than 3.5 million babies are born in the United States every year. That’s a lot of moms-to-be thinking about what foods they’re eating. According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to eating healthy foods, there are some special nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Most of these should be included in your prenatal vitamins. Check with your healthcare provider if you are not sure. These include:
  • Folate and folic acid. Folic acid and folate are forms of vitamin B9. They support cell growth and development during pregnancy. A healthy supply from supplements and food helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  • Vitamin D. Together with calcium, this is essential for building strong bones and teeth. Food sources include fatty fish like salmon and fortified milk and juice.
  • Calcium. This bone-building material is important during pregnancy. Dairy sources – cheese, yogurt and milk – are the most easily absorbed by the body. But you can also get calcium from fortified food products, canned fish with bones and veggies like broccoli and kale.
  • Iron. This makes hemoglobin, which is important to blood cells and the entire circulatory system. Pregnant women need twice the amount of iron in their daily diet as before, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough from foods like lean red meat, poultry, beans and iron-rich vegetables like spinach. Lots of cereals and juices are also iron-fortified.
  • Protein. Getting enough protein is important for a healthy pregnancy. Lean meats, chicken and seafood – are all good sources. So are eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils.

Easy tips for healthy eating

If you’re suddenly craving nachos and salsa during your pregnancy, go ahead and indulge once in a while. But make sure most of your eating is in the healthy category. Some ideas to make it easy:
  • Love fresh fruit? Stock up on your favorites. If you love berries and mangoes, start your day with some mixed fruit. Layer them with some creamy yogurt for a parfait. Whole fruits also make perfect snacks.
  • Change up your veggies. Not so fond of salads anymore? Don’t push yourself. Switch to raw veggies and dips or hummus, or bowls of vegetable soup. There’s more than one way to get your fiber and antioxidants.
  • Snacks to-go. You might feel hungrier during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. How many extra calories you need may depend on your pre-pregnancy weightM. Those who began their pregnancy at a healthy weight may need an extra 340 calories are needed each day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the third trimester, an additional 450 calories are needed. As your pregnancy advances, keep more snacks within reach. Some examples:
  • Snack-sized cheese rounds or string cheese
  • Single-serving yogurt containers
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews or walnuts
  • Low-sugar granola or protein bars
  • Fortified cereals
Photo credit: Getty Images

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