If you’re newly pregnant, you might be concerned about what you should eat during pregnancy to ensure your baby gets all the nutrients it needs. Dr. Dee and the team here at Healing Hands Chiropractic understands this concern and wants to help you out! That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you get started on eating the right foods for you and your baby.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
You have probably heard the term, “I am eating for two” which has given many women the license to eat whatever they want. Contrary to popular belief, you are eating for 2 but you only need to increase your calories by a slight 200-300 per day. As long as you eat when you’re hungry, eat only to satiation, and choose to eat healthy foods, then you should be fine.
What Should You Eat During Pregnancy?
It’s important to eat the right foods to ensure your body gets the right nutrients to support your growing baby. Your body will take the nutrients your baby needs to grow directly from your body. If you don’t replace them with the foods you eat, then you can suffer from health problems as your body starts lacking in vital nutrients (known as micronutrients).
You can easily replace these by carefully choosing the foods you eat. Try to select a few from below for each meal to create a well-balanced meal. Also, be conscientious of the snacks you choose to ensure they are calories with a purpose.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with micronutrients. Even though you should limit the amount of fruit you eat, they are an important source of many different minerals. While you shouldn’t gorge yourself on them, eating a little fruit throughout the day is a great way to feed your sweet tooth.
Vegetables are also packed with fiber which is more important when you’re pregnant since pregnant women are prone to gut issues. You can vary the fruits you eat to ensure you are getting enough micronutrients. At each meal, fill your plate with a variety of dark green vegetables. Avoid most lettuce since it has no nutritional value and instead chooses dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and bok choy.
Only 5% of Americans consume enough fiber. During pregnancy, it’s even more important to eat enough fiber. This is because the hormones and changes that take place in your body make you more susceptible to gut problems such as heartburn, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disease. The general recommendation for fiber is about 25-35 grams per day for a pregnant woman. Good sources of fiber include:
- Wild rice
- 100% whole wheat bread and pasta
- Dried fruits
- Jicama (1 medium jicama has 32 grams of fiber)
- Brown jasmine rice
- Sugar snap peas
- Potatoes with skin
If you aren’t used to eating a lot of fiber in your diet, start off at the lower end of the requirement. You can also cause bowel problems by suddenly and dramatically changing your fiber intake.
Nuts and avocados are not only a healthy fat but they are also a great source of micronutrients such as vitamin K and E, B vitamins, and potassium. Avocados are also beneficial if you’re struggling with leg cramps during your pregnancy. One avocado has twice the amount of potassium as one banana.
Seeds such as almonds and sunflower seeds are not only a good source of iron but they also contain high amounts of magnesium, copper, and vitamin K along with many other vital nutrients. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and are essential to building your baby’s brain and eyes. Most people don’t get enough of these long-chain fatty acids (otherwise known as DHA and EPA). One thing to consider is that you should only eat salmon once or twice a week while you’re pregnant because of the mercury found in it.
Pregnant women need about twice as much protein as someone who isn’t pregnant. You can fill this need with sources of lean protein. Eggs are a great source of protein and are also high in choline, which is important for brain development. One egg contains about ¼ of your daily requirement of choline.
Other good sources of lean protein include quinoa, legumes, nuts, and beans. Chicken breasts, certain fish, and soy products are all lean proteins that can be included in every meal. If you are struggling with low iron levels, you can eat lean cuts of beef or even cook with bison, which is much leaner than beef.
Calcium is important for your health and also for bone development in your growing baby. You can eat dairy products in moderation to get the recommended 1,000 mg of calcium per day. If you’re vegan, some plant-based sources of calcium include calcium-fortified soy products, collards, okra, kale, beans, broccoli, and mustard greens.
What If I Am Anemic?
Most women start their pregnancies with plenty of iron stores. However, as your pregnancy progresses and your blood increases by 50%, you might find yourself anemic. If you struggle with low iron levels during pregnancy, there are foods you can add to your daily diet such as:
- Egg yolks
- Red meats
- Dried fruits
- Cooked oysters
- Dark, leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach, dandelion greens, and asparagus
- Whole grains
- Seeds such as brazil nuts and almonds
It’s important to eat a varied diet to ensure you’re providing your body and your baby with proper nutrition. Anemia that is left untreated can lead to problems such as preterm delivery, extreme fatigue and irritability, and low birth weight.
Due to the increase in blood volume, your water needs nearly double when you’re pregnant. Even mild dehydration can cause constipation, headaches, and uterine cramping. Most pregnant women need nearly a gallon of water per day but your need depends on your body. Rather than looking at the volume, you drink, look at your urine. You want your urine to be clear or pale yellow. If it starts getting darker in color or if you’re struggling with headaches, increase your water intake.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
If your doctor hasn’t discussed it with you yet, there are some foods you want to avoid during pregnancy. They are as follows:
- Soft cheeses
- Anything not pasteurized
- Raw eggs
- Undercooked meat
- Foods loaded with nitrates
- Pate-either meat or plant-based
- Shark, marlin, swordfish or other high-mercury fish
- Undercooked ready-made meals
It’s important to discuss with your doctor foods and drinks you should avoid during pregnancy as the recommendations change and might be different for you.
Chiropractic Care Helps During Pregnancy
Anyone that has been pregnant can tell you about the aches and pains of pregnancy. Regular chiropractic care can help alleviate much of this pain and pressure you feel. It can also ensure your body is in alignment to help prepare your body for birth. The team here at Healing Hands Chiropractic enjoys helping out our community here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Call today so we can get started!