This is such an exciting time in your life and I’m sure your head is spinning!!
Now more than ever it’s important to nourish your body, for YOU and your BABY!
Getting a well-balanced diet is crucial! Make sure you’re getting enough protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals & water!
In general, whether you are pregnant or not, you should focus on filling half your plate with veggies! Make sure you’re getting adequate complete protein & healthy fats! Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Water is best, but if you need some flavor check out some no-sugar-added sparkling water. At this point in your life, it’s important to limit those processed foods and added sugars.
Before we begin, I want you to keep in mind that it’s key to focus on eating foods from their natural source, that is where the nutrients are. Processed foods and enriched foods are not completely off limits, but they are also made up of empty calories with very little nourishment.
Every time you eat, you should think about how you are nourishing your body with the foods you choose. And of course... everything is OK in moderation. Don’t deprive yourself.
But this is what you came here for—> some of my top nutrients during pregnancy:
1. The number one nutrient that you will probably hear about is folic acid! You should be getting enough folic acid before you even conceive to decrease risk of neural tube defects. Sources: leafy green vegetables, spinach, citrus fruits, eggs, broccoli, beans & nuts.
2. Iron is needed for the extra blood flow while your body is growing the fetus and forming the placenta.
Sources: red meat, poultry, fish & beans.
To help absorb iron better consume those iron rich foods with foods that are high in vitamin C! Vitamin C helps iron absorption.
Keep in mind that certain foods can also prevent your body from absorbing iron like dairy products, coffee & whole grains. Don’t consume calcium rich foods at same time as iron rich foods to get the best absorption from both essential nutrients.
3. Understanding Vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for your baby’s growth. Most likely most of you will be able to get your daily requirements of this essential nutrient. It’s in many vegetables and fruits, especially orange and yellow ones! Also found in broccoli, eggs, milk & meat.
Vitamin A broken down: there’s preformed Vitamin A and there’s Beta-Carotene. You will want to limit your preformed Vitamin A (which can cause birth defects).
Liver contains the highest amount of preformed vitamin A so you’ll want to limit eating liver just once or twice per month and don’t double up on your prenatal vitamins.
Important: Just don’t shy away from the Vitamin A in fruit and vegetables (that’s where the beta-carotene is at!) And we need that Vitamin A for our growing babies.
4. Calcium. That growing babe is taking all of your calcium he/she needs from your body. So you need to be getting the right amount to decrease your risk of osteoporosis. If you consume dairy products you probably don’t have much to worry about! But you can also find calcium in salmon, leafy greens & broccoli!
5. Magnesium is an essential mineral. It maintains nerve and cell function plus helps regulate body temperature.
Get your magnesium from nuts and seeds, fatty fish, spinach & oats.
6. Zinc helps support your immune system. Plus it is essential during pregnancy because of all the rapid cell growth and can also help reduce preterm birth.
Sources: oysters, red meat, poultry, beans & nuts.
7. Choline - helps brain and spinal cord develop & protection against neural tube defects. Sources: eggs, salmon, black beans, quinoa, milk, broccoli, peanut butter & cauliflower.
8. DHA is an essential fat to help with growth and development of babies brains, eyes & nervous system. Plus it can help support postpartum mood in new moms!
Salmon & fortified eggs will be your main souces.
9. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is needed for you and your baby. Vitamin D plays an important role for our immune system keeping us healthy. It’s also needed to help absorb calcium & phosphorus.
It’s not uncommon to have a Vitamin D deficiency. So we need to make sure we are getting this essential nutrient in our diets to decrease risk of preeclampsia and help the well-being of your baby and yourself.
Sources: eggs, salmon, fortified foods & sunlight.
Which is why I am a huge advocate for getting outdoors!! Daily sun exposure can help. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes per day.
Honestly, most of us may need a Vitamin D supplement. There are different forms out there and I highly recommend Vitamin D3. Always opt for a high quality supplement and check with your doctor before adding any kind of supplements into your diet.
10. Protein. I recommend a little higher intake of protein throughout your pregnancy. Not necessarily adding more calories, but being plate conscious—> think veggies, then protein, then healthy fats when preparing meals. Protein will help with the growth of your baby, brain development & your increasing blood supply.
Sources: eggs, poultry, fish, meat, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes & sprouted grains.
11. Healthy Fats. We are talking about monounsaturated & polyunsaturated. Limit those saturated fats! Healthy fats support your babies development & growth.
Sources: avocados, nuts, olive oil, avocado oil, natural nut butters, coconut oil, some types of fish, like salmon.
12. Probiotics/Gut Health. Maintaining a healthy gut is so important for your overall health and may decrease risks of some pregnancy complications. Probiotics are “good bacteria” that live in our bodies. They help our digestive system, our skin and our vaginas. I highly recommend Garden of Life Probiotics to take throughout your pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Bone Broth is also a great way to help support gut health! Bone Broth provides many nutrients, helps develop the fetus and healthy organs, it’s hydrating, improves your hair skin & nails, and builds/repairs connective tissues. Kettle & Fire make some great Bone Broths if you’re strapped for time to make your own.
Now of course there are many more nutrients, like fiber- to help prevent that first trimester constipation! But you should be getting enough fiber if you fill your plate with veggies! These are my top favorite nutrients that I think are important to incorporate into your diet.
Lastly, don’t get me wrong, Morning sickness is a thing- but if you eat a well balanced diet and small meals/healthy snacks throughout the day it can definitely help. Try to limit processed foods and sugars which can also add to your nausea. A lot of sources will say to snack on saltines, but if you can stomach almonds or another kind of nut that’s even better! Mix of protein + healthy fats can help relieve those awful morning sickness symptoms. Remember...don’t deprive yourself!! If you’re craving carbohydrates..go for it! Opt for whole grain or sprouted grain if you can. Check your portion size.
Nourish and fuel your body for a healthy and fit pregnancy! Check out Amanda Jackson Fitness for more healthy tips!