In this post, you’re going to learn about foods that are nourishing to you and your developing baby.
Let’s dive right in.
Growing a baby is exhausting and the best fuel is wholesome food. But, like you, I got pregnant and didn’t know where to begin with trying to improve my diet. I was never a person who dieted because I never liked the idea of dieting and preferred to eat intuitively. I wondered if this was enough during pregnancy.
I know nutrition can get complicated so to keep it simple, I asked simple questions:
↠What nutritional value can I get from everyday whole foods?
↠What vitamins and minerals provide the most value during pregnancy? Could I easily source these micronutrients from real food?
↠How could a bunch of kale support my baby and me?
↠Could I actually indulge in dark chocolate without guilt?
Here’s is what I found. But first, here are some important things to note:
*I am not a nutritionist or dietician. Connecting with these professionals for own unique health needs can be immensely valuable.
* How your overall diet looks is more indicative of overall health than single meals.
*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.
*This list is not all-inclusive. There are more foods in each category that offer similar benefits.
FOODS & THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE THEY PROVIDE
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
Growing a baby is exhausting and wholesome food is fuel. Each of these foods have nutritional value but for personalized nutrition support, connect with a nutrition professional.
Now that you know what single foods can support you, learn how to put them together to create nourishing meals. One resource I recommend is Liesel’s pregnancy cookbook (affiliate link) I think you’ll love it!
There are tons of fruits and vegetables on this list. Grab your copy of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists so that you can minimize your exposure to pesticides in food.