I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I spent staring into my refrigerator trying to figure out what healthy foods to eat while pregnant.
As I breathed in the cold refrigerator air, I have to be honest, I wasn’t searching for salads and rice cakes.
I wanted carbs–think chips, pasta, and pie. Trader Joe’s has a lattice apple pie that I can legit eat in one sitting all by myself (don’t ask me how I know this).
Cravings and all…I was determined to eat healthy because I wanted to be proud of my pregnancy diet. I was taking a prenatal vitamin but I know supplements can’t replace a healthy diet. If you are interested in learning a few things about prenatal vitamins, check out the pdf I created below for easy reading.
I finally sat down and looked at what I could eat that would be nourishing AND energizing because growing a baby is exhausting.
At first, it was intimidating trying to figure out which foods offered the most benefits during pregnancy but then it became fun. The more I learned about macronutrients and micronutrients, the more motivated I was to eat well.
If you are motivated to eat well too, check out the list of nourishing pregnancy foods below.
*Many of the foods offer more than one benefit and can be placed in more than one category of benefits. Use this resource to get more details on the nutrient value of specific foods. Also, this list is not all-inclusive. There are more foods in each category that offer similar benefits.
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FOODS WITH FOLATE
Folate is a B vitamin (B9). It is an important vitamin for cell growth and metabolism, especially during pregnancy. Folate is believed to help prevent birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of your baby. It is found in it’s synthetic or man-made form, folic acid, in most prenatal vitamins; however, it can also be found naturally in the foods listed below.
3. Pinto beans
4. Black-eyed peas
6. Leafy greens like spinach
FOODS TO HELP WITH HYDRATION
Food with high water content is perfect for helping pregnant women stay hydrated. Dehydration during pregnancy can be dangerous for your baby and yourself. It can affect the fluid in your amniotic sac, the placenta, and the body’s ability to rid itself of waste. Drinking water and these foods can help keep you hydrated.
2. Celery Lettuce
4. Green Peppers
9. Melons (Cantaloupe, Watermelon)
FOODS WITH FIBER
Fiber helps with pushing everything along and can prevent constipation which affects approximately half of all pregnant women. According to The American Pregnancy Association, not all constipation is due to low fiber; iron supplements, hormones, stress and lack of exercise can contribute to constipation. If you know you have a low fiber intake, consider the foods listed below.
1. Black beans
5. Brown rice
6. Dried Figs
8. Sweet potatoes
FOODS WITH POTASSIUM
Having trouble with cramps, ask your doctor about your potassium levels. Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance. Remember that sodium-potassium pump from high school biology? If not, check out this resource for more information on potassium during pregnancy.
4. Lima beans
5. White beans
FOODS WITH MAGNESIUM
Magnesium is important for balancing blood sugar levels in the body. According to this source, not having enough magnesium can result in serious conditions like preterm labor, preeclampsia and other serious conditions.
1. Black beans
4. Dark Chocolate
FOODS (& DRINK) WITH ZINC
Zinc helps with cell division and cellular metabolism and there is lots of that happening during pregnancy, so your body and your baby need zinc. Zinc is also important for health and immunity. You can learn more about the importance of zinc in pregnancy here and here. Below is a list of foods with zinc.
2. Meats (chicken, pork, and beef)
4. Hemp seeds
5. Flax seeds
FOODS WITH VITAMIN C
Vitamin C can help protect you and your baby from infection. It also helps with iron absorption and adequate amounts of iron is necessary to prevent certain types of anemia. This source suggests that having an adequate intake of vitamin C benefits bone growth, healthy skin, and tissue repair.
1. Orange Juice
ANTIOXIDANT RICH FOODS
If you want a data-rich article on the importance of antioxidants for pregnancy read this. Just know that dark berries are your friend.
FOODS WITH BETA-CAROTENE
The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A. Vitamin A benefits your baby’s eye, bone, and skin development
4. Sweet potatoes
Each of these foods can help you eat well through your pregnancy and beyond. However, be sure to connect with a nutritionist or your medical prenatal team to find foods that support your individual needs. Also, I’m an affiliate for the pregnancy cookbook below and I think you’ll love it!
If you need help with recipes, check out Liesel’s Pregnancy Cookbook.