Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy Diet – Q & A
There are so many adorable, and sometimes weird, references to food when talking about the size of your baby at each stage during pregnancy. But did you ever wonder why they use food? It may not have been intentional, but those references can also give you insight on the types of foods you should be eating to support a healthy pregnancy diet.
A healthy pregnancy diet looks different for every woman. When your growing your sweet little one, a one-size fits all approach is not ideal. You will want to make sure that what you are eating is right for you and your baby. Individualizing your intake based on your specific needs is key.
So, know your body and ask your healthcare team to let you know which nutrients you need or lack, so you can make sure to address it. Be sure to chat with your doctor to see if you have any specific needs, like genetic makeup or medical conditions that might make a difference in how you absorb and metabolize nutrients. Knowing what you need sets the stage for a healthy pregnancy diet.
Knowing what to eat is tricky. Our foundational belief is that nutrition is personal. It looks different for every person. The nuances are directed by genetics, and they change across your lifespan. But there are certain foods or groups of foods that will check the boxes of the daily 30 that every person needs. What you eat within each category is up to you, but it should be based on your specific needs.
Healthy Pregnancy Diet: Q & A
You’ve been asking some great questions. And we’ve answered! Check out our Q&A on a healthy pregnancy diet!
1: Is low carb diet healthy during pregnancy
It’s important to understand that not all carbs are made equal. And your baby (and you) need carbohydrates to survive. It is not that you need to avoid carbs. You still need them for a healthy pregnancy. Your focus should be on eating the right ones. It’s all in what and how you consume carbs that make the difference.
Thoughtfully removing simple carbohydrates from your diet while taking in adequate amounts of healthy carbs is the best approach when following a healthy pregnancy diet. If you’re diabetic or have a family history of gestational diabetes, then this topic is even more important to carefully navigate. Simple carbs include foods like breads, pasta, chips, cookies, treats. There is one little secret that many people do not know about but they should! Research from the Blue Zones found that Ikaria sourdough may actually help lower the glycemic load of meals and may be a healthy alternative to feed your bread cravings! Check it out and let me know what you think!
Healthy carbs include oats (for beta-glucan), quinoa, beans, and fruits and vegetables. If you have a gluten sensitivity (and not a true gluten allergy), then try foods low in fructan. It will help you reduce the symptoms, but still allow adequate intake of carbs and fiber.
2: Is oatmeal good for pregnancy?
Oatmeal is a great breakfast for anyone, especially pregnant women. Research from populations that live the longest, healthiest lives has shown that oatmeal is a staple in their diets. In fact, grains like oats, barley and brown rice (but not much wheat) show up regularly in the healthiest diets on the planet. You need at least 3 servings of grains per day, so starting with breakfast makes sense. Try steal cut or whole grain oats (not instant) with loads of berries, walnuts and flaxseeds to top it off.
3: Is milk good for pregnant women?
Some people drink milk, others do not. It’s really a personal choice. High quality milk can offer benefits to you from a nutrient standpoint that support a healthy pregnancy diet. What is important is that you consume enough calcium and vitamins A, D and E, and omega-3 fatty acids to support both you and your growing baby. Milk also offers protein, phosphorus, potassium, iodine and vitamin B12. So, make sure you’re covered there too if you opt to avoid milk. There are many ways to get your dose of calcium and other vitamins, including yogurt or cooked vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale.
4: What to eat daily when pregnant?
You need the daily 30 whether pregnant or not. This includes 30 vitamins and minerals that are essential to support life, but your body cannot produce. Getting those in through a variety of plant-based foods should be at the top of your pregnancy diet plan even before pregnancy, with a low dose essential or individual vitamins to fill the gaps in your diet. There is one nutrient to highlight if you are thinking about getting pregnant: folate. You should be consuming folate, even before you are pregnant, to prevent significant health complications for you and your baby.
During pregnancy your nutrients needs increase, which is why it is important to eat a thoughtfully designed healthy pregnancy diet. It’s also why you take a prenatal instead of a regular multi. The RDA’s for pregnancy are designed to highlight which of the daily 30 should increase and by how much. But what should you eat daily when pregnant is more about making sure you are hitting the necessary categories, then doing your research on the nuances of your body. This question leads us to Q5 on the list.
5: What are the right foods to eat when pregnant?
In order to hit your daily 30, you should be consuming a variety of unprocessed, low sugar foods. If you are working on building a healthy pregnancy diet, think about going plant-based. This doesn’t necessarily mean zero meat or other animal products, as many people assume. The plant-based concept simply puts plants at the center of your diet with a smaller focus on meats, dairy and eggs. Check out our lists from EatClean30 to give you inspo and help you get started before you’re pregnant!
If you are already pregnant, here is a list of categories to help you think through your intake. BTW it’s totally ok if you’re vegan. You can get your daily 30 in other ways.
Healthy Pregnancy Diet: The Categories
Beans and legumes
Omega-rich dairy and eggs
Vitamins to Support a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Part of a healthy pregnancy diet includes a prenatal to ensure you’re getting enough of the daily 30 for you and your baby. The NIH recommends that every woman of childbearing age take a daily multi that includes folate.
Our founder, Jessica Houston, is a nutritionist and public health expert. She created Vitamin & Me when she was pregnant and a grad student at Johns Hopkins to help other women get the nutrients they need. If you’re thinking about having a baby or just want to start your health journey, let us help you with your custom vitamin match!
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If you like our lists, check out our other posts on healthy pregnancy diets:
Pregnancy Questions – Top 5 Nutrition Concerns Addressed
Pregnancy Nutrition – The 5 Best Ways to Reduce Processed Food Intake
Maintaining a Healthy Pregnancy – Top 5 Tips for Reducing Sugar
Pregnancy Diet – Priming Your Body for Pregnancy
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