Pregnancy is a great time to indulge yourself in healthy eating. Eating a mostly (because no one is perfect) whole foods diet will support your body and your baby's development for years after their born. Most common discomforts in pregnancy can be alleviated or reduced with simple changes to diet, hydration and exercise. Plus, what you eat in pregnancy will expose your baby to their first tastes--babies already show taste preferences by 16wks. So do yourself a favor in the long run and begin influencing healthy eating habits in your kids by exposing them to real, whole food during pregnancy. Here are a few helpful to focus on while thinking about your next snack and meal.
Protein: Most people need 70+ grams of protein every day for a healthy pregnancy. Some research shows a higher protein intake lower the risk of preeclampsia and other complications. Plus eating protein will lessen morning sickness and erratic blood sugar spikes throughout the day that lead to dizziness and fatigue. Higher protein sources include: chicken, beef, pork, turkey, lamb, fish, tofu, nuts, beans, milk, eggs, greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Fats: Consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to your baby’s organ and brain development. Because fat is where most environmental toxins are stored, it is best to eat organic and grass fed sources when possible. Fat sources include: meat (including red meat), fish, butter, eggs, olive/oil, coconut/oil, nuts, avocado.
Dairy: Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. These nutrients are important for your baby's developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart, and nerves and blood clotting. Organic dairy products are best to reduce exposure to environmental toxins. Dairy sources include: milk, yogurt, hard cheese, cottage cheese, egg, ricotta cheese.
Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including a lot of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.Green vegetable sources include: spinach, broccoli, zucchini, dark green lettuces, kale, swiss chard, asparagus, arugula. Fruit sources include: berries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, apples, oranges, bananas, mangos, cantaloupe, pears, grapefruit, plums, nectarines, and peaches.
Whole grains: Grains are packed with nutrients like iron, selenium, and magnesium. If your looking for a higher amount of these nutrients and minerals, whole grains contain more than processed grains. Whole grain sources include: quinoa, brown rice, whole oats, barley, wild rice, millet.
Iron: Iron is helpful in reducing your chances of anemia and fatigue during pregnancy and also important for your baby's brain development. Moderate to low iron during pregnancy can have a lasting impact on your baby's development of language skills and behavior. Iron sources include: red meats, organic organ meats, eggs, fish, poultry, lentils, blackstrap molasses, cherry juice, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits (apricots, etc.)
Zinc: Zinc is important to your baby's growth and immunize system development. Zinc also reduces the chances of intra-uterine infection which can lead to preterm birth. Zinc sources include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seafood, organic organ meats, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, eggs, wheat germ, turkey.
Folate: Folate is very important in reducing your baby's risk of brain and spinal cord defects. The recommended amount in pregnancy is 400mcg every day. Folate sources include: spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, brussel sprouts, lima beans, soybeans, organ meats, brewer’s yeast, root vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, bulgur wheat, kidney beans, white beans, salmon, orange juice, avocado, milk.
Omega 3s: Everyone is talking about omega 3s these days and for good reason. During pregnancy consuming enough essential fatty acids and DHA improves your baby's eye sight, brain development and can protect against developing allergies in infants. It also helps you with mood stabilization and reduce inflammation. Before jumping into eating fish everyday, check out the best sources of fish that contain low mercury. Omega 3 sources: salmon, sardines or fish oil (talk to your midwife for the best brand), chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, brussel sprouts, eggs yolks, hemp seeds.
Magnesium: Increasing your magnesium is the usual leg cramp cure during pregnancy and it aids in stabilizing your blood sugar. Magnesium sources include: spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, avocado, coconut water.
Vitamin D: If you live in Michigan, you most likely have low vitamin D levels. While you are pregnant, it is a good idea to have your levels tested if you suspect you are low in vitamin D or deficient. Vitamin D aids in your growing baby's bone, lung and brain development. Plus it will give you a boost to your immune system, stabilize blood sugar and reduce chances of preterm birth. Vitamin D sources: sunlight, salmon, mushrooms, organic liver, sardines.
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