Pregnancy Diet – Priming Your Body For Pregnancy
You just got the little + sign on the stick. Cue the joyful scream and laughter and the calls to your closest family and friends. For some, tears of happiness or even fear come next. Your pregnancy journey will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.
But, now what? Setting the stage with a healthy, pregnancy diet is top of mind for most women. But, most women aren’t exactly sure what to eat. So, the googling begins.
Incorporating a healthy pregnancy diet into your lifestyle is one of the first and most important decisions you will make for your child. It will set them up for success for the rest of their lives. And, in case you didn’t know, all the things in research tell us that it should start before you get that little + sign.
Women typically think of eating a healthy diet after they find out that they are pregnant. But, that often happens weeks or months into the pregnancy- hello missed period. By then, your baby is well on its way to being the size of a raspberry and the stage has already been set for its brain, spinal cord and nervous system.
The first 1000 days
Did you know that the first 1000 days of your child’s life sets the stage for future outcomes? This concept begins at conception and continues through your baby’s second birthday. Pregnancy nutrition- what you eat when you are pregnant- in particular plays a foundational role in appropriate growth and development for brain health, organ system development and even IQ and chronic disease development later in life. But, pregnancy nutrition doesn’t start the day your little pea begins to grow. Day zero comes well before that.
It should go without saying – if you are of childbearing age, the National Academy of Medicine recommends that you start taking a prenatal with at least the foundational nutrients to cover your bases before you get pregnant. But, if you’re not sure what should be in your prenatal vitamins, we’ve layed it out for you. If you have more questions after reading, then send us a note.
Pregnancy diet: before you get pregnant
It is well established in research that the mother’s health status before pregnancy can play a major role in how your growing baby utilizes nutrients. This will impact healthy growth patterns and create the best environment for them to thrive. That means that what you eat before you get pregnant (typically a year or more prior) impacts your baby once you do become pregnant. Priming your body by eating a healthy pregnancy diet before you get pregnant will give your baby the best chance of success!
Learning how to eat well can take time. Research suggests that it takes about 60 days before new eating patterns become habits. Incorporating a variety of whole foods, reducing sugar intake and eliminating processed foods will make big changes in your health and create an environment for your little pea to thrive. So even though it takes work, it makes a big difference for your baby.
There is substantial research that suggests our emotional association with food types and stress around intake is associated with our likelihood of turning actions into habits that last. If you are going to make these changes stick, then find ways to make it fun and give yourself a pass- or ten- when you fall off track.
But, eating a healthy pregnancy diet will be worth it in the end. It will set the stage for nutrient balance when you are pregnant and reduce the likelihood of inflammatory conditions associated with processed food intake that can be extremely impactful on your health and the health of your baby. Check out the EatClean30 guide to learn how to incorporate healthy foods and eliminate ultra-processed foods to set the stage for long term health.
Now You’re Pregnant
The happiness that comes with finding out you’re going to become a mom- and sometimes fear- can also be accompanied by the stress of doing things just right for your baby. Take a breath. It’s going to be okay. Though you can’t change your genetics- at least not right now anyway- you can control what you eat for you and your baby.
The first 1000 days
Eating well helps you handle the additional demands on your body. The saying, “You’re eating for two” doesn’t really mean what most people understand it to suggest. Pregnancy doesn’t give you a free pass to eat whatever you want. And, it’s actually dangerous to eat twice as much during pregnancy. But, whether or not you’ve already established healthy eating patterns, now your goal should be to consume enough nutrients to support the growth of you and your baby while maintaining a healthy weight. Eating well during the first 1000 days of your baby’s life, sets the stage for a healthy life for the rest of their life.
If you’ve made it this far, then you probably read (or at least skimmed) through the first section. But, in case you missed it the first time around, we’ll say it again. If you are of childbearing age, the National Academy of Medicine recommends that you start taking a prenatal with at least the foundational nutrients to cover your bases before you get pregnant.
Pregnancy diet: while you’re pregnant
Every pregnancy is different, because every mama’s nutrient needs vary. As always, it should go without saying (although we will go ahead and do it) please check with your doctor if you have underlying conditions. Check out our EatClean30 lists for some inspo to help you get started on a healthy pregnancy diet: what to include, what to avoid, and what gets a pass now and then.
EatClean30 for Pregnancy: The Lists
The Always List
Berries and other low sugar fruits
Sweet potatoes, broccoli sprouts, leafy greens, avocado, root vegetables
Brazilian nuts, walnuts, almonds seeds
Grains (Steel cut oats, quinoa)
The Sometimes List
Bananas and other high sugar fruits
Fruit juice (only from real fruit when needed)
The Never List
Sugar, real or artificial
Sugar Sweetened Beverages
Corn or corn products
*EC30 for Pregnancy recipes coming soon
If you have questions about our lists, let us know! We love hearing from you and can let you know what we think.
Post Pregnancy Diet
The time you have with your child in the days and months after delivery is sacred. The bond you build with your child during that time will last a lifetime, and will get you through the tantrums that will come later (Yep, it will happen to you. Keep the eye rolling and the thoughts of “my child would never” to a minimum here.)
After spending the last 10 months growing your perfect little human, selfcare and rest are essential. Establishing a well balanced postpartum nutrition plan will not only nourish your body and allow you to heal, but it will support your baby too if you are breastfeeding- and because you just need to be ready for whatever comes your way with your little one.
The first 1000 days
The concept of the first 1000 days doesn’t end for your baby the day he or she is born. It actually goes through their 2nd birthday. So, while you’re taking those insta-perfect photos, you might as well post about how healthy they are eating. If you’re breastfeeding, that means what you’re eating. If not, or you’re weening off, then take some cute pics of that eco-friendly, BPA free kid gear piled high with real foods. You’ll be giving your kiddo a gift that last a lifetime, and you’ll probably get some followers too (make sure to use #eatclean30). Win win!
And just because you’ve already delivered, doesn’t mean you can stop taking your prenatal. I mean, let’s be real. That perfect little parasite just drained you and you need to replace what you lost. (Kidding, not kidding.) Depending on your nutrient needs, you may need to switch to a postnatal or an essential multi to fill any gaps in your postnatal pregnancy diet. But let’s do this one more time, so the message is clear: If you are of childbearing age, the National Academy of Medicine recommends that you start taking a prenatal with at least the foundational nutrients to cover your bases before you get pregnant.
Pregnancy diet: after you deliver
The basic principles of the EC30 pregnancy diet also apply to your postnatal nutrition regimen, but you’ve just gone through 10 months of adjusted metabolism and nutrient depletion. Right after you deliver, focus on bumping up certain foods types to support your recovery. It’s personal, but you will most likely need additional iron to replace what was lost during delivery. Some women need more B12, vitamin d, zinc, fats and fatty acids. Research has shown that depletion of these key nutrients are associated with a decline in serotonin, a mood-regulating hormone.
A healthy gut supports appropriate absorption of the key nutritents (and many others) mentioned above. So it’s no surprise that gut health and inflammation is also associated with postpartum depression. Taking pre and probiotics through food and vitamins will help provide gut flora that your body needs to thrive.
FYI If you are breastfeeding, then you need to make sure you are consuming additional nutrients specific for lactating women to support your recovery and the growth of your bouncing baby.
Pregnancy Diet and Nutrition with Vitamin & Me
Making the right decisions for your baby is important, and those decisions start before you even get pregnant. Start off on the right foot with Vitamin & Me – using our custom vitamin quiz, we’ll pair you with prenatal vitamins tailored specifically to your individual needs. We offer a range of established brands and have been sure to curate only the highest quality vitamins on the market! Don’t wait – meet your match and start priming your body for pregnancy today!