Nutrition During Pregnancy

Great Eating = Great Rewards

A diet which provides excellent nutrition during pregnancy gives you the nutrients you and your baby need, increases your energy, and helps you enjoy your pregnancy! Most women will also see improvements in their skin and hair, and will experience less swelling, heartburn, gall bladder pain, and even nausea. Nutrition during pregnancy is also a fundamental aspect of preventing complications such as babies that are too small or too big, gestational diabetes, and pre-ecalmpsia. Eating well can be hard work. But the rewards of eating well are acutely felt in pregnancy… and you are laying a foundation that gives you the best health for labor, birth, and your family.

The USDA provides evidence-based guidelines for nutrition during pregnancy that will help you get all of the nutrients you and your baby need. This article will help you find and make sense of those pregnancy nutrition guidelines. Mara’s World also provides many other pregnancy nutrition articles that will help you figure out how to apply the guidelines one step at a time.

Recommended Daily Intake for Good Nutrition During Pregnancy

Because we all start pregnancy at different weights, exercise in varying amounts, and metabolize food in ways unique to us, there is not a one-size-fits all pregnancy diet. Special situations and personal considerations may further influence the nutrition during pregnancy that is best for you. The USDA pregnancy nutrition guidelines provide a starting point for a strong nutritional foundation. Your experiences and conversations with your care provider may lead you to make changes. The guidelines used in this article are the USDA recommendations for pregnancy for a 5’4” woman who weighed 135 pounds before pregnancy and who exercises 30-60 minutes per day. You may calculate your own USDA recommended daily intake here.

Total Daily Amounts for Basic Categories

First TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird Trimester
Whole Grains7 oz8 oz9 oz
Veggies3 cups3 cups3 1/2 cups
Fruit2 cups2 cups2 cups
Diary/Calcium3 cups3 cups3 cups
Meat, Beans, Nuts/Seeds6 oz6 1/2 oz6 1/2 oz
Healthy Oils6 teaspoons7 teaspoons8 teaspoons

But What Does That Really Mean?

While recommendations are not hard to come by, the rewards are found by turning them into a practical meal plan. This article will help you with the first step; understanding foods and servings so that the total daily amounts make sense. It will help you understand food, and how to count it, by answering questions such as “What is the difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat?” and “How many grains are in a bagel?”

Step two is applying food knowledge. Making Pregnancy Meal Plans in 3 Simple Steps is another Mara’s World article that will walk you through a simple step by step guide to pregnancy meal planning and some simple tips for keeping track of it. If you already have a strong understanding of food categories and serving sizes check out the meal planning article.

Sound too complicated? The initial planning is time consuming and detailed. But once you dive in, it becomes easy and the steps roll simply from week to week.You will be able to make weekly plans quickly, and in many ways, following them is easier than facing daily decisions about what to eat, especially if pregnancy has you feeling like nothing sounds good – or at least nothing nutritious. That being said, if meal planning is not your forte and you know this approach won’t work for you there are other ways! See Healthier Eating During Pregnancy in Five Simple Steps for some quick tips you can apply on the fly.

Step 1 to Better Pregnancy Nutrition: Understanding Foods and Servings

Whole Grains

What are whole grains and why are they important?

Grains are the seeds of grass-like plants such as wheat, barley, oats, and rice. They have three main parts, each packed with it’s own unique nutritional gifts. The bran is the outer skin and is high in B vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. The germ is the little part inside that grows into a new plant. In addition to more B vitamins, it also contains healthy fats, protein, and minerals. The rest of the grain is endosperm. The endosperm is the food for the growing germ and provides energy in the form of carbohydrates and proteins. It also has a few vitamins and minerals.

Whole grains are products made from grain seeds that include all three parts. Most familiar products are made by grinding the whole seed into flour which is used for bread and pasta and so on. Other methods are to add water to the seeds to spout them until they become soft enough to mash, cooking the seed, or “puffing” then with high heat the way you pop popcorn.

Refined grains are products made from grain seeds that remove the bran and the germ. When these two parts are removed, the majority of the vitamins, minerals, and additional nutrients in the seeds are removed, as well as 25% of the protein. This means that we drastically reduce the amount of nutrients we get for the same caloric intake when we eat refined grain instead of whole grain. We need to eat more to get the nutrition we need, and over-eating or nutritional deficiencies result.

Whole grains and refined grains also digest differently in our bodies. Our body aims to turn everything we eat into little components that we can put to use where we need them. In other words, when you eat an apple and a piece of toast, the body does not deliver tiny bits of apple and tiny bits of toast to our cells, but rather it digests both the toast and the apple all the way down into the vitamins, minerals, additional nutrients, proteins, fats, and sugars that make them up. The sugars are then available to the body for energy, the proteins and fats for building things, the vitamins and minerals to help the cells perform different jobs, and so on. Our bodies are constantly in motion, and our needs for these elements is continuous. Since we don’t eat on a continuous drip line, the body also has complex methods of storing these nutrients for later use.

Whole grains take more work for the body to digest. They are more complex and must go through more stages before their nutrients are available to the body. Because of this, after eating whole grains we get a slower rise in the sugars available to the body, which lasts a significant time, and tapers off gradually. In contract, when we eat refined grains, a lot of the complex nature of grains has already been removed in a factory. Therefore, the body digests the refined grains very rapidly, sugars flood into our bloodstream, the body responds by trying to store them for later, and we have a fairly fast decline of available sugars in the bloodstream. So as you can see, even though both whole and refined grains provide a similar amount of energy (sugar) to the body, the way we experience the energy is very different.

During pregnancy, this difference is a big deal. Insulin is the primary hormone that regulates how fast the liver absorbs sugar from the blood to be stored in the body. One of the hormonal changes that occurs during pregnancy is a change in how insulin is used. This change makes regulating the more rapid changes that occur after eating refined food more difficult than when you are not pregnant. Because of this, if you eat a diet high in refined grains during pregnancy, high blood sugar levels can remain longer than is healthy for you or your baby. This can contribute to nausea, swelling, gestational diabetes, and to macrosomic (large) babies.

Additional reasons to eat whole grains during pregnancy, and for life!

  • The additional fiber in whole grain keeps things moving down below. The change in hormones during pregnancy, and the restricted space, have the potential to increase your tendency towards constipation and unpleasant build-up of intestinal gas and bloating. No better time to preventatively keep your fiber on track.
  • Whole grains have been shown to reduce high blood pressure, which is important for a healthy pregnancy and full-term delivery.

How do I find whole grains?

Most grain products for sale are available in whole grain variety. Bread, pasta, tortillas, baked goods, and rice are all examples of products commonly made from refined grains, that can be purchased as whole grains instead. Look for them in the natural section of most larger grocery stores. Some companies that emphasize whole grains also are committed to keeping preservatives out of their foods, so whole grain breads and tortillas are often found in the refrigerator or freezer case as well. Natural food stores, farmer’s markets, and food co-ops are great locations to find whole grain products as well. Many communities have at least one great bakery that makes treats from whole grain as well as amazing breads and pizza crusts. No matter where you shop, look for the following:

  • Whole grains in pregnancy: look for the stamp.Third party stamps. You can check packaging for stamps from a third party such as the whole grain council. Stamps are an accurate way to quickly see how much whole grain is in a serving of the product you are evaluating. In order to have the stamp, products must provide at least 1/2 a serving of whole grains, and the actual amount is listed in grams on the seal (this requirement was added in 2006 and products with the earlier stamps are still available). However, you should know that there are many products that are excellent sources of whole grains which do not carry the stamp. In fact, I believe that many of the healthiest whole grain products available do not have the stamp. This is because the fees involved with carrying the stamp (membership in the wheat council etc) are prohibitive for some smaller companies producing exceptional products.
  • Package information. Many products say “Whole Wheat” or “Made from Whole Grains” right on the packaging. In order to verify how much whole grain is in the product, find list of ingredients. Whole grains will be listed as “whole.” Refined grains will simply be listed, or may be listed as enriched. For example, in the ingredients for pasta, “whole wheat” means that the whole grain from wheat was used in the pasta, “wheat” means that refined wheat was used, and “wheat enriched with niacin” means that refined wheat with added niacin was used. You will find that many whole grain products will list both whole and refined grains in the ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order from the largest quantity to the smallest, so look for products that list the whole grains before the refined grains, or for products made from 100% whole wheat. Another way to evaluate how much whole grain is in the product is to compare the nutritional information panel to a similar product without whole grains. If there is a significant amount of whole grain in the product you are evaluating the protein, fiber, and amount of folate and vitamins. They should be higher in the whole grain product.
  • Color. Whole grain products are brown! The bran and the germ are dark in color and you cannot produce a white product when they are included.
  • Buy the grains themselves and cook at home. Amaranth, barley, brown rice, bulgar, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt, and wheat and wild rice may all be bought as grain and prepared at home.

7 – 9 oz a day: How much grain equals an ounce?

When you dig into the USDA recommendations to figure out how much whole grain they are truly suggesting, it takes some fine print reading to come to a point of clarity. While eating all of your grain from whole grain sources is very healthy, they recommend that at a minimum 1/2 of your grain servings should be from whole grain. Furthermore, they are weighing the weight of a ready-to-eat product, rather than only the weight of the grain. For example, a typical piece of whole grain bread weighs an ounce, but only 58% of that weight is grain. That 58% is a full serving of whole grain. So in reality, the recommendation is not to eat 7-9 ounces of whole grain, but rather 7-9 ounces of whole grain food products, such as bread and cereal. If you want to measure the grain itself you are looking for 7-9 16 g servings, or 112 grams in the first trimester, 128 grams in the second trimester, and 144 grams in the third trimester. And only 1/2 of that must come from whole grain.

This distinction is helpful if you are a detailed planner and want to make your own exact meal plans. Most nutritional information is available in grams. Products that carry the Whole Grain Council stamp will have the whole grain grams per serving displayed right on the stamp.

I am not a detailed planner. In fact, counting food grams and calories is pretty much a sure way to overwhelm me and discourage my attempts to eat well. (“128 grams of whole grain? Are you kidding?”) Actually, 16 grams of whole grain is between 1.5 – 2.5 Tablespoons of whole grain flour (depending on the type of flour and whether it is sifted). So as you can see, a little whole grain flour goes a long way. It’s not as hard as it may sound to work adequate whole grain into your diet.

Here is a list of common foods that provide approximately 16 grams of whole grain based on information from the USDA or the Whole Grain Council. Every day pregnant women should eat 7-9 of the following. 3-4 could be substituted with refined grain products, or products made from a blend of whole and refined flours.

Cereal
  • 1 cup of whole grain cold cereal
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as oatmeal, rye flakes, or wheat farina
Bread
  • 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread
  • 1/2 whole grain English muffin
  • 1 mini whole grain bagel (large bagels provide four 16-gram servings)
  • A piece of corn bread (1.25” thick and wide, 2.5” long)
  • 1 small whole grain muffin (2.5” diameter) (large muffins provide three 16-gram servings)
  • 4 mini rye-bread slices
  • 1/2 of a pita bread (half a circle, pocket with two sides)
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
Waffles and Pancakes
  • One toaster style whole grain waffle
  • 1/2 Belgium style whole grain waffle
  • 1 medium whole grain pancake
Pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat pasta
Cooked Grains
  • 1/2 cup cooked grain: brown rice, bulgur, barley, quinoa, couscous, or other cooked grain
Snacks
  • Granola bars (There is a huge variety from one brand to another, but if it is a bar made primarily from oats or other other whole grains, one bar should provide 16 grams.)
  • 5-8 whole wheat crackers
  • Tortilla chips – 15 chips
  • Popcorn – 1 cup

Fruits and Veggies

What are fruits and vegetables and why are they important?

Fruits are basically the structure in plants that hold the seeds. For our purposes, they are the fleshy, sweet, seed-bearing, edible parts of plants. Vegetables are edible seeds, stems, leaves, roots, and tubers of non-sweet plants. They are incredibly important to our health. In fact, eating enough vegetables is linked to the prevention of nearly every type of major disease and is accepted worldwide as a staple for vigorous living. Following are just a few of the many reasons why.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins cause color in foods and different vitamins cause different colors. What are the brightest foods you can think of? Likely what came to mind was either a fruit or a vegetable! There are many vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and each has many specific roles in our body. They are so vital that it hard to explain why as they affect nearly every aspect of function in our body. In short, vitamins and minerals activate the ability for our enzymes to do work. They help us build tissue and make hormones, communicate from one part of the body to another, and cleanse and purify. We need them all the time, and all the more when we are building a baby cell by cell.

Antioxidants

There are literally 1000’s of antioxidant substances in fruits and vegetables – and more are discovered all the time. Chemically speaking, they are nutrients that have the ability to accept an additional electron. This is a big deal because we have “extra” electrons without a home in our body all the time. They are created every time the body turns food into energy and during many other processes essential to life as well. These extra electrons are called “free radicals” and they are a very normal part of life. An abundance of antioxidants are all around us in the fruits and vegetables of the world and are also a natural part of life. The “problem” is that free radicals create a lot of damage until they are bound up by antioxidants, and fruits and vegetables need to be eaten in order to deliver the antioxidants we need.

Antioxidant levels are on the decline for many Americans, while free radicals are rising. It’s a double whammy that is taking a major toll on our health. Antioxidant levels are lower than in recent history for two reasons: we are eating less fruits and vegetables, and our method of growing, shipping, and artificially ripening fruits and vegetables takes a toll on their nutrient content. The reason our free radicals are going up is because in addition to the normal processes of life, free radicals increase in response to stress, toxins, and pollutants of which there are increasing amounts.

The great news is that the natural mechanism to control free radicals is still in place and functions as well as ever! Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, and choosing fresh local or organic produce, corrects the problem. This is important for health throughout our life, and like most things, has even greater rewards in pregnancy.

  • Decreased swelling.
  • Reduced chance of birth defects.
  • Possible prevention of pre-eclampsia.

***It is important to note that these benefits are related to the consumption of healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables. High-dose antioxidant supplements are gaining popularity, and several have been found to be dangerous during pregnancy.

Fiber

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which keeps your bowls going and may prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, two common discomforts during pregnancy. It also slows digestion which is highly beneficial in pregnancy as explained in detail under the whole grains section of this article.

Three cups of veggies, and two cups of fruit: what equals a cup?

Most of us think in cups, so one option is to slice fruits or vegetables and measure them. You may measure your vegetables in the raw state, even though most of them cook down to a smaller portion. Two cups of raw leafy greens are needed for one serving. Here are some additional one-serving equivalents:

Greens
  • Broccoli – 3 spears 5″ long
  • Kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach – 2c raw (It will cook down considerably.)
  • Romaine lettuce, watercress, dark green/red lettuce, baby greens, endive – 2 cups raw
Orange
  • Carrots – 2 medium, 1 large, ~12 baby
  • Pumpkin – 1 cup mashed
  • Sweet potato – 1 large
  • Acorn squash, butternut squash, Hubbard squash, delicata – 1 small squash
  • Cantaloupe – 2 medium wedges (about 1/4 of a typical melon)
  • Orange – 1 large
  • Grapefruit – 1 medium
  • Peach – 1 large
  • Pineapple
  • Apricots – 2 fresh or 1/2 c dried
Red
  • Tomatoes – 1 large
  • Tomato or mixed vegetable juice – 1 cup
  • Radishes – About 6
  • Apple – 1/2 large, 1 small
  • Applesauce – 1 cup
  • Strawberries – about 8 large
  • Watermelon – 1” thick, small wedge
Purple
  • Eggplant – 1/2 medium
  • Beets – 1 medium
  • Plum – 2 large or 3 medium, 1/2 cup dried prunes
  • Grapes – about 32 grapes, 1/2 cup of raisins
Starchy Vegetables
  • Corn – 1 large ear
  • Potatoes – 1 medium
Additional vegetables
  • Green peas
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery – 2 large stalks (11-12″ long)
  • Cucumbers
  • Green or wax beans
  • Green or red bell peppers – 1 large
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini or summer squash
Additional Fruits
  • Banana – 1 small
  • Pear – 1 medium
  • Mixed fruit salad
  • 100% fruit juice – 1 cup, use sparingly

It is important to vary the colors of your fruits and vegetables. For example, make sure you have something green every day, something orange nearly every day, and mix reds and purples throughout the week. Limit your starchy vegetables to one a day. This will assure that you get the full variety of amazing nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables.

Dairy/Calcium

What is dairy and why is it important?

Dairy refers to milk from cows, goats, or sheep and any products made from dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, cream, and butter.

The primary reason diary is recommended in pregnancy is for calcium. Calcium is utilized in many ways throughout our lives, and in pregnancy is an important building block for our baby’s teeth, bones, brain, and nerves. Calcium is key to the function of our muscles and therefore our heart as well.

Dairy is also a source of vitamin D and protein. The benefits of protein will be covered in the protein section of this article. Vitamin D is very important during pregnancy and insufficiencies may be related to complications such as pre-eclampsia and pre-term labor. The active form of vitamin D increases in your body during the stages of pregnancy when your baby’s bones are rapidly growing.

There is a lot of debate around dairy, and some people do not tolerate diary well. There are plenty of other healthy sources of calcium. However, before simply exchanging your diary servings with alternative high calcium foods remember that you must also compensate for the protein and the vitamin D that you need.

There are some very fascinating studies regarding dairy during pregnancy. Maternity care practices who have encouraged all of their patients to adopt a diet which includes four servings of dairy per day have drastically reduced their levels of pre-eclampsia even among “high risk” populations.

Counting dairy options

The USDA recommendation for pregnancy is 3 cups of milk per day, but there are many products made from milk which “count” for dairy servings and are not eaten by the cup. I find it more descriptive to say that three servings are recommended daily. The following count as servings.

  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Evaporated milk – 1/2 cup
  • Yogurt – 1 cup
  • Hard Cheese such as cheddar, swiss, parmesan and mozzarella – 2 slices (1.5 ounces) or 1/3 c shredded
  • Ricotta Cheese – 1/2 cup
  • Cottage Cheese – 1/2 cups
  • Pudding made with milk – 1 cup
  • Frozen yogurt – 1 cup
  • Ice cream – 1 cup

Sources of Plentiful Protein:
Meat, Beans, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds

What protein and why is it important?

Proteins are long molecular chains that the body uses to build things like cell walls, tissues, and organs. It is estimated by the people who study this sort of thing that most humans have well over 2 million types of proteins. They are all built from the same basic 20 building blocks called amino acids. When we eat protein our body breaks it down into these amino acids, which it can then use to build whatever we need: including all the extra skin and blood needed to support a pregnancy, plus the amniotic sac, fluid, placenta, and baby! It’s no wonder that protein is an absolute requirement for a healthy pregnancy.

Amino acids are found in all food, including fruits, vegetables, and grains. But they are far more concentrated in meat, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. There are two groups of amino acids – ones we must get from food and ones we can make ourselves. These high protein food groups contain all 20 amino acids, whereas most vegetables, fruits and grains only provide some, and may leave us needing others.

6 – 6.5 ounces a day: how do I count a typical serving?

  • One small steak, pork chop, chicken breast, etc (size of a deck of cards) – 3 ounces
  • One small hamburger – 2-3 ounces
  • One slice of deli meat (ham, turkey, roast beef) – 1 ounce (*Deli meat and all other ready-to-eat meats such as hotdogs should be heated to steaming for food safety during pregnancy.)
  • One can of tuna – 3-4 ounces
  • One small trout – 3 ounces
  • One small salmon steak – 4-6 ounces
  • One egg – 1 ounce
  • One veggie burger – 2 ounces

Additional foods that equal one serving (or one 1-ounce equivalent)

  • 12 almonds
  • 7 walnut halves
  • 24 pistachios
  • 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup cooked beans such as black, pinto, kidney, white beans, baked beans, refried beans
  • 1/4 cup cooked legumes such as split peas, lentils, chickpeas
  • One falafel patty
  • One cup of lentil soup or split pea soup
  • 1/4 cup of tofu
  • 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter

Healthy Oils

What are healthy oils and why are they important?

Oils are the liquid fats that can be squeezed from plants, nuts, seeds, and fish. They are an wonderful source of fats, or fatty acids, which our body can easily digest and use for important functions in the body. Healthy fat is absolutely essential to a healthy pregnancy. Fat is necessary to utilize some vitamins, and it is the second building material of the body after protein. Fats are the foundation for hormones and healthy cell walls. Our cells need fats in order to regulate what is allowed in and what is taken out, which is fundamental to their healthy function. Hormones are one of the key ways the body communicates, and they are very involved in directing the process of growing and supporting a baby, as well as labor and birth. Fat is also used to build brain tissue and nerves.

It is important to distinguish between healthy oils and other fats in our diet, such as saturated fats from animal products and trans fats, which are not found in nature but created for the purpose of extending shelf life in packaged foods.

Saturated fats are natural. They are found in meat, diary, and eggs. Our body can break down and digest saturated fat and the fatty acids are useful in the body. However, saturated fat is more difficult to digest and our body stores a large percentage of saturated fat, which may lead to excess weight or fatty congestion in our bodies. It is best to limit saturated fats by moderating our intake of meats and full-fat diary.

Trans fats are created in labs and factories. They are not known in nature. To create a trans fat, plant oils such as canola or corn oil, are modified by adding additional hydrogen to the molecules in the oil. You can identify trans fats by reading the ingredients on packaged food and looking for any ingredients that are “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” Hydrogenated means to have hydrogen added. (Be aware that under U.S. labeling laws, a nutritional label can advertise “0 grams of trans fat” as long as it has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat.)

Trans fats are a detriment to health and should be entirely avoided. Because they are not a natural element, they are not easily digested by the body. We store a high percentage of them in our fatty deposits throughout the body and they contribute significantly to excess weight, blocked arteries, fatty tissue in the organs and other substantial problems. Because they are difficult for the body, they require extra energy and create sluggish conditions.

Since pregnancy is a time when we already are experiencing intensified demands on our body, avoiding trans fats is very important. You may notice other benefits as well, such as reduced swelling. Research has shown that trans fats cross the placenta and are found in the babies tissue. Trans fats may decrease the number of essential fats that reach the baby and contribute to low birth weight and pre-eclampsia.

It is relatively easy to identify transfats once you are aware of them. They are found mostly in fried foods and foods with a long shelf life that are not frozen or canned. They were created to solve a major dilemma in our modern food system; they delay food spoilage. When we rely on shipping foods great distances and displaying them on store shelves before they are purchased and prepared, delaying the rate at which foods become moldy or rotten is a big deal. Unfortunately the same reasons bacteria and molds can’t break them down are the reasons that humans have a hard time with them too. Whenever you are purchasing food with a long shelf life which is not frozen or canned check for trans fats in the ingredients. At restaurants, you may ask for information regarding their use of trans fats or use a food guide such as the Stop and Go Fast Food Guide to identify healthier options. (This useful guide can be purchased as a booklet or downloaded for free at the link above. It can also be purchased as a mobile app here.)

6-8 teaspoons a day: where can I get my healthy oils?

Using oils may be done in several ways: add them directly to your foods, cook with them, or eat foods that contain the oils.

  • Healthy oils
  • Flax seed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds – 1/8 cup
  • Fish oils
  • Avocados – 1/2 avocado
  • Hemp seed oil

Adding oil directly to foods:

  • Create or buy oil-based salad dressings. Use them on hot or cold pasta, salads, over cooked vegetables, or as a bread dip.
  • Pour olive oil onto a plate, add parmesan cheese, and dip your favorite bread.
  • Add flax seed oil to hot cereals or a cold smoothie.

Cooking with oils:

  • Fry eggs, tofu, or stir fry vegetables using canola, peanut, or sesame oils.
  • Replace the butter in your baking recipes with oil.
  • Make a simple topping for pasta with warm oil and browned garlic.

Eating foods high in healthy oils:

  • Choose to snack on nuts and seeds.
  • Select fish rather than meat or poultry.
  • Top salads or burritos with guacamole.

Step Two to Better Pregnancy Nutrition: Eating Well

For most women, taking a close look at the foods recommended for pregnancy makes us feel a bit overwhelmed. The reasons are varied, but the feeling is common. For some busy on-the-go women the sheer amount of food looks daunting – when will you find the time to eat like this? Many women also worry about gaining too much weight and the long term impacts on our figure. We don’t want to starve our babies, but yet the lingering fear remains that feeding them may make us put on quite a few unwanted pounds. On the other hand, if you have been eating plentifully but making food choices high in refined flours, trans fats, and sugars, and eating few fruits and vegetables, the transformation to a healthier diet may feel out of reach. Some of us haven’t cooked for a long time, or ever really. Some of our jobs make snacks nearly impossible.

Your situation, and the resources and strengths you can bring to it, are totally unique to your family. It is important that you are the author of your plan for improving nutrition during pregnancy. But you need not be alone. The following articles are a big help, and pregnancy coaching is another way I offer support to women who are embarking on significant lifestyle change during pregnancy.

What to Eat During Pregnancy? Use a Pregnancy Food Log!
This is a brief article and printable pregnancy food log that explains how to track what you eat according to the USDA recommended servings, and how to use the process for discovery of what works for you.

Making Pregnancy Meal Plans in 3 Simple Steps
Implementing the steps in this article will help you create weekly pregnancy meal plans. There is some upfront work, but the process explained here will make meal planning quickly once you get it set up.

Get Ready! Look at the Pregnancy Food Log Planning Guide.

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