The food you put into your body during pregnancy not only affects you. It also affects your baby’s growth and development. Choosing a variety of healthy foods keeps you and your baby as healthy as possible during the pregnancy. Some women experience food cravings or aversions, but if you keep a variety of foods on hand you can find a balance of nutrition.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients, making them a healthy option for pregnancy. Frozen or canned fruit and vegetables work well as an alternative if you don’t have fresh on hand. Aim for at least five servings each day, but more fruit and vegetables won’t hurt. Choose produce of many different colors for the widest variety of nutrients. In addition to all the vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables boost your fiber intake, which helps keep your digestive system regular. Add a serving of fruit at breakfast, for snacks or in a smoothie. When making casseroles or other dishes, add extra vegetables.
Whole grains are another good source of fiber to keep you regular during your pregnancy. Carbohydrates found in whole grain foods also give you energy, which can help when you feel tired. Six or more servings per day are ideal. Breakfast is an easy place to kick off your day with whole grains. Try whole grain toast, bagels or cereal. Many cold cereals contain whole grains or you can make hot cereal for a warm, whole-grain breakfast. Combine the cereal with fruit to get both items in the same meal.
Protein is another key component to your pregnancy diet, because it gives you fuel and supports your baby’s growth. According to MayoClinic.com, protein is particularly important during the second and third trimesters. Lean meat, poultry, eggs and fish are sources of protein for non-vegetarians. Limit your fish consumption to avoid high levels of mercury and never eat shark, tilefish, king mackerel or swordfish, which are typically higher in mercury. If you don’t eat meat or it no longer sounds appealing, try tofu, beans, nuts or nut butter for pregnancy protein.
Low-fat dairy products boost your calcium intake during pregnancy. This is important for your baby’s bone and teeth development. You also get protein from dairy products. If you don’t consume cow’s milk, look for soy milk that is calcium-fortified. A glass of milk with your meals is an easy way to sneak in dairy. Yogurt and cheese work well as snacks or as part of a meal. A yogurt smoothie made with yogurt and fruit is a way to get in a healthy snack.