It’s hard enough to know what to eat on a daily basis with all the diet trends out there, and when you are pregnant, it is even harder because you are tired, dealing with pregnancy symptoms, or craving 20 pounds of food. A great place for pregnant women to start with a diet is to start is by just eating real food and trying to avoid processed foods with sugars, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils. It is important to think about how babies are built through nutrients and not just calories.
Now, let’s look at what nutrients are important in a pregnancy diet, and some foods that offer good sources of them. For any of the supplements listed below, pregnant women should check with their healthcare provider before taking them.
- Protein – meat, seafood, collagen, eggs, lentils, yogurt, cheese, nuts, seeds
- Healthy fat – coconut oil, grass-fed butter, nuts, seeds, avocado
- Vitamin A – grass-fed butter, kale, carrots, sweet potato, eggs, cod liver oil, liver
- Vitamin C – fruit, peppers, tomatoes, kale, broccoli
- Vitamin D – grass-fed dairy, oily fish
- Vitamin E – grass-fed butter, almonds, greens, sunflower seeds, avocado
- Vitamin K2 – K2 supplement, grass-fed dairy
- B vitamins – sunflower seeds, beef, chickpeas, B complex
- Calcium – dairy, dark leafy greens, broccoli
- Choline – eggs, Non-GMO sunflower lecithin
- DHA – wild caught fish, oily fish, cod liver oil
- Sulfur – cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, brussel sprouts, broccoli, garlic
- Folate – dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, eggs, liver
- Iodine – seaweed, cod, shrimp, baked potato
- Iron – red meat, liver, spinach, lentils
- Potassium – coconut water, bananas, avocados
- Magnesium – leafy greens, cauliflower, avocados, dark chocolate
- Zinc – beef, lamb, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds
There are also ways to pair foods to make nutrients more bioavailable. Here are some great combinations:
- Foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, K with healthy fats
- Foods rich in iron with vitamin C foods
- Foods rich in zinc with sulphur
Most pregnant women subscribe to a pregnancy week by week website to see what is developing each week. But what do these developments mean we need throughout the pregnancy? Folate and Vitamin A are a key focus in the time frame when you are trying to conceive until you get a positive pregnancy test. A great meal would be chicken, mashed sweet potato, and asparagus. For the rest of the first trimester, focus on iron and healthy fats like DHA because your baby’s brain and the placenta are developing rapidly. Try pesto salmon with sauteed spinach and tomatoes. Going into the second trimester, eat beta-carotene for the eyes, and pairing foods rich in beta-carotene, or the plant form precursor to Vitamin A, with healthy fats again allows for better absorption. For the growing and hardening of the ones, consume calcium, collagen, and vitamin K2, and focus on vitamin D and zinc. A bunless burger with raw cheddar cheese, bacon, and avocado with a side of carrot fries is an indulgent option to get these nutrients. Grass-fed raw cheddar cheese, that has been aged 60 days is safe for consumption and can be found at many local grocery stores. In the last trimester, think vitamin K2, calcium, magnesium, and healthy fats. So, try adding more greens to dishes like chili and top them with avocado. Finally, a delicious, quick meal, for anytime of day that is great for fertility as well as pregnancy is eggs, greens, and avocado! So, start incorporating more of these foods into your diet as you progress on your pregnancy journey.
In creating your diet, keep these principles in mind when determining what will fit in your lifestyle and budget. No one can be perfect, but as moms, we always want to do what we can for our babies!