Pregnant women are bombarded with advice about what to eat, and what not to eat, which can often be contradictory and confusing. What does a mom-to-be really need? Lots of water, more protein, increased ﬁber and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, along with some healthy fat. Sound complicated?
Itʼs not. The answer to food for you and baby is actually very simple. Eat varied whole natural foods, and lots of them. Donʼt sweat the small stuff – if bananas are too much to stomach one week, try a sweet potato instead! If you canʼt resist the brownies, just stick to one! The key is to keep your diet as varied & balanced as possible, stay away from processed food and eat when you are hungry! Cravings and aversions are normal, and ﬁghting them completely is nearly impossible. Instead, substitute healthy tolerable foods that will provide your body and growing baby with what they need. Eating well will not only help keep you and your baby healthy in pregnancy, it will better prepare your body for birth and your busy life after your baby is born.
Here are some ideas for making eating well in pregnancy easier:
Keep a pregnancy food log: Track what you are eating, craving and avoiding. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day. If certain foods are turning you off – ﬁnd something else to eat that will provide you with similar nutrients. For example, if ﬁnd yourself “off meat” in your ﬁrst trimester, try some legumes, tofu or greek yoghurt for protein. If sitting down to a plate of food is overwhelming, try getting your nutrients through an easily digested, nutrient packed smoothie instead.
Get lots of calcium, but not just from dairy: While dairy can provide a lot of calcium, not all pregnant women tolerate it well. If you are one of them, donʼt worry, you can meet your increased calcium needs through diet. Fortiﬁed almond milk, tofu, almonds, dark, leafy green vegetables and broccoli are all great sources.
Increase your folate intake naturally: For example, dark leafy greens and legumes are great sources of folate.
Increase your protein, and not just through meat: You need signiﬁcantly more protein when you are pregnant. Many women rely mainly on meat for their protein, but ironically, that is one of the most common food aversions in pregnancy. Again, donʼt worry, you can easily meet your protein requirements through dairy and vegetable sources such as beans & legumes, tofu, quinoa, oats, and nuts.
Drink lots of water and eat lots of veggies and whole grains: If you do this, your ﬁber intake will be adequate and your digestive system will thank you, as will your baby! Getting into the habit of drinking lots of water throughout the day will also beneﬁt you if you breastfeed, as it will be part of your routine by then.
Take a good quality prenatal multivitamin: Treat this as an insurance policy for those times when you just canʼt get, or keep down, what you & your baby need. Just do your best, and remember, what you feed your growing baby in utero is key, but itʼs just the ﬁrst leg of the race. You have many years of feeding your child ahead or you, no small part of which is leading by example! So get on the right track now, and it will serve you throughout parenthood — a varied, whole food diet is the key!
If you feeling overwhelmed, consult a nutritional consultant. They will be able to give you all the information, tools and support you need to get started.
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, aged 7 &8. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.