If you are expecting a baby or plan to have a baby in the future, congratulations! It is an exciting time in your life. You will also be bombarded with information about your pregnancy and having and raising a baby. It can be quite overwhelming. But eating healthy during your pregnancy isn’t all that different from eating healthy when you are not pregnant. You just have to make some tweaks to accommodate that new life growing inside of you.
This post is by OYS writer Melissa. You can read more about Melissa here and see all of her other posts here. Check out Melissa’s blog Nutrition and Wellness for Life. She offers wellness consultation services that focus on helping you eat better and exercise more. She also has a FB page!!
The first thing you want to get out of your mind is that old saying, “You’re eating for two now.” No, not really. That baby inside of you is not even close to being equal in size to you, so you should not be doubling your meals to feed him or her. Yes, you are going to increase your calories as your pregnancy progresses, but it’s not as much as you might think. In your first trimester, you should not increase your calories at all. This can be difficult because this is when you are most likely to be experiencing strong cravings. In the second trimester, you should eat an extra 340 calories, and in the third trimester you should eat an extra 450 calories. It is important that these extra calories are not in the form of junk food and empty calories, but rather healthy food choices. You want your weight gain to top out between 25 and 35 pounds by the end of your pregnancy, so you have to pace yourself.
The best way to go about planning your pregnancy diet is to try to eat your regular healthy diet during the first trimester, and then increase your food intake slightly during the second and third trimesters. Let’s break down each of the food groups.
Fruits should remain at 2 cups a day throughout your pregnancy. It is always a good idea to eat a wide variety of fruits in order to get all of the nutrients you and your baby need.
In your first trimester, eat 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day, then increase that to 3 cups for the second and third trimesters. Try to eat a lot of dark green leafy veggies, as well as orange veggies, and cooked beans. Pinto and kidney beans, as well as lentils will help you increase your calorie (and protein) intake healthfully.
You should be eating 6 servings of grains in your first trimester, and then increase to 8 servings for your second and third trimesters. It is important to choose whole grains whenever possible. Be sure to watch your portions here. Cereal and pasta are easy to overdo if you aren’t measuring.
For protein, you want to go with 5 ½ ounces during the first trimester, and then 6 ½ ounces for the second and third trimesters. This can include lean meats like beef, chicken, and turkey, fish, nuts, and eggs. Again, watch your portions.
Last is dairy. Stick to 3 servings throughout your pregnancy. You can get your dairy from low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt.
One important nutrient you want to increase your intake of is folate. Folate helps prevent birth defects of all kinds. You can get natural folate in whole grain bread, beans, citrus foods, and greens, or from foods that have been fortified, like cereals and pasta.
So what about those cravings? Chocolate? Cheeseburgers? Tacos? Ice cream? I have been there…twice. Those cravings can be very powerful. My best advice is to allow yourself what your body wants…within reason. If you are craving a cheeseburger, try to avoid hitting the fast food drive thru, and make one yourself. That way you control the ingredients. Make a burger with lean ground beef, and serve it on a whole grain bun topped with veggies and low-fat cheese.
Check out this cheeseburger wrap Tammy makes:
Try to satisfy your craving with a healthier version whenever you can. If you absolutely must have that fast food burger, go for it, just don’t make it a regular thing. You will gain more weight than you need or want to, and you’ll be kicking yourself later.
Of course, you will want to also be following a regular exercise regimen during your pregnancy (consult a doctor first). This will help keep your energy levels up and will help keep your weight gain in the desired range. If you exercise throughout your pregnancy, you will lose the weight so much faster afterwards…I promise! If you need some ideas for exercising during pregnancy, see these posts which give you routines by trimester.
Becoming a mother is the most amazing thing ever. You want to have the energy to handle all of the work you have ahead of you, so take of your body the best you can now!
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