Pregnancy brings so many new challenges to women that it’s a bit odd when you realize it also brings up an old one. Everything in your body is suddenly off balance, your nauseous, constipated, bloated, hungry, achy… and the worst part? There is almost no medication you can take for any of it. Either it could hurt the baby or it doesn’t work. There are, however, certain foods that just might save the day. Eating some of these foods might also curb your body’s natural way of getting those nutrients its missing (like making you crave pickles, ice cream, and peanut butter at 2am).
Protein, Protein, Protein
One of the most important nutrients to get during pregnancy, is protein. In the early stages your baby is made up of almost nothing else, and low protein could hurt his or her growth or yourself as your body takes protein away from you to give to the baby. Try these protein rich foods to get you going:
- The incredible-edible egg. Eggs are high in protein with very few calories, about 90 per egg. There are more than 12 other vitamins found in eggs that will help both you and baby, including choline which promotes growth and brain health and helps to prevent neural tube defects. Eggs are cheap, easy, and fast when you feel terrible and need something to keep you going. Another plus, they are low odor for those who become extremely sensitive to food smells.
- Salmon is chocked full of high-quality protein, as well as the all-important omega-3 fats to help your little one’s brain development. Unlike many other species of large fish salmon has very low mercury levels, making it safe to eat along with other young fish like canned tuna. The FDA recommends no more than 12 ounces per week of fish to avoid ingesting too much mercury. As a general rule the older the fish the more mercury, making fish like swordfish, king mackerel, and shark more dangerous to your baby.
- Greek yogurt has about twice the protein of regular yogurt and is also a great source of calcium. While the protein helps your growing baby, the calcium will help keep your own bones strong during pregnancy and help lay the foundation for strong bones for your baby too.
- Another excellent source of both high-quality protein and choline is lean meat. Red meat in particular, look for meat that is between 95-98% fat-free.
Taste the Rainbow
No, don’t eat pounds of Skittles, no matter how tempting. Did you know that the different colors of fruits and vegetables indicate different nutrients? All those greens, reds, oranges, yellows, purples…. They all mean something different for your body.
- A rainbow of fruits and veggies will provide you and baby with a wide variety of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Also, in the last few months in the womb, your baby is beginning to ‘taste’ through the amniotic fluid that is feeding them, so the more goodness you introduce them to now the more likely they will accept these flavors later. The same principle applies to breast milk later on.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables are brimming with vitamins like A, C, and K, as well as folate. Spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and any other leafy green will provide high doses of much needed vitamins for you and baby.
- Sweet potatoes, with their lovely orange color, are high in carotenoids that convert to vitamin A in our bodies. Unlike vitamin A found in liver, milk, and eggs, carotenoids are converted into vitamin A only as needed. So your body can take as much, or as little, as needed. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
Whole Grains and Fiber
While pregnant your digestive system slows down to put all that extra effort into baby, but that can be pretty problematic. Constipation and hemorrhoids are the unpleasant side effects of this slow down. While commercial products to remedy this are not recommended during pregnancy (because nothing is…for anything) you need to add extra fiber in through your diet to make things a little easier on your bowels.
- Of all veggies, beans contain the most fiber. There are so many different kinds to choose from: navy beans, lentils, pinto, black beans, chickpeas and many more. Besides the wonderful things beans will do for your bowels, they are also high in iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.
- Popcorn! Yes, popcorn is a whole grain, so snack away but take it easy on the popcorn salt and butter. Any whole grains are good for you, so switch your sandwich bread to wheat and try adding foods like oatmeal and quinoa to your diet.
- Walnuts, pure, unaltered walnuts are amazing little things. If you don’t care for fish or eggs, but still want those omega-3s then try out a handful of walnuts. As one of the highest plant-based sources of omega-3s, walnuts make an excellent snack or addition to salad.