We’ve all heard the old phrase before about expectant mothers: “you’re
eating for two now!” As tired as that phrase may be, it’s
still true when it comes to your nutrient intake. For example, pregnant
women require twice as much protein as non-pregnant women on a daily basis.
Just a note: these foods are not geared toward weight-loss or other results-based
diets. When you’re pregnant, all that matters is the nutritional
benefit of your foods, and that includes eating food with a healthy amount
of fat and protein.
While these foods are all highly-nutritious and low in calories (for the
most part), these foods were chosen because they help you and your baby
stay healthy through 9 months of powerful physical changes—and that’s
all that matters!
Your baby’s development depends entirely on what your body provides,
so read the following list to learn how you can enjoy your meals while
giving your baby all the vitamins he or she needs.
#1: Salmon (or Sardines)
How much? 75 grams a day, or three servings.
Lean meat like chicken and fish (excluding swordfish, mackerel, or other
predators) packs a lot of amino acids, which are cellular building blocks.
As your baby grows, you’ll need to consume more and more protein
in order to build a store of amino acids.
Salmon also contains iron (preventing anemia and helping your baby develop
red blood cells) and good fatty acids (keeping your joints nice and lubricated).
Fatty acids also help your child’s developing eyesight and helps
the body metabolize Vitamins A and E. While any type of lean meat works,
salmon is particularly healthy and delicious—even for non-fish lovers!
How much? 1.5 cups a day
Asparagus is a delicious vegetable, especially when paired with poached
eggs, steamed or added to salad. However, what makes it a vital addition
of this list is not just its taste, but its nutritional punch. Asparagus
is a vegetable that contains a high amount of folic acid, a crucial nutrient
needed to protect our nervous systems. As an expectant mother, you’ll
especially want more folic acids in your diet, and asparagus has more
of it than most foods.
Folic acid benefits babies and mothers because it:
- Helps develop the brain and nervous system
- Protects against spina bifida and neural tube defects
- Contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and manganese
How much? Four servings, or 1,200 milligrams a day
If you’re not much of a milk drinker, yogurt is a versatile food
that matches milk gram for gram in calcium density. Yogurt also contains
protein (for developing muscles) and folic acid (to develop the nervous
system). What makes yogurt a great part of any diet is its ability to
be used in so many things.
You can use yogurt in smoothies and parfaits, pair it with fruit, substitute
sour cream with it, create dipping sauces and dressings, or even eat it
plain. Yogurt comes in a variety of forms, but the greatest benefit comes
from buying it plain, allowing you to flavor it yourself. Experiment with
your cooking while enjoying the health benefits of a cup of yogurt!
Your body will need a great deal of calcium if you’re pregnant. As
your baby develops its skeleton, it will require calcium from your body.
Consuming as much milk and calcium as possible can help your baby develop
a strong skeleton without weakening your own bones.
How much? 4-6 servings of fruit recommended a day. One mango is about 2 servings.
Often cited as the king of fruit in India and the Philippines, mangos certainly
make a case for being the most popular fruit in the world—they’re
certainly quite versatile. They’re sweet, soft, and delicious when
they’re ripe. Unripened, they’re a great addition to salads,
chutneys, sauces and soups. Mangos are also a great treat when added to
yogurt or smoothies, or even salsas.
More importantly, mangos are high in Vitamin A, which contributes to your
eyes’ health as well as the development of your baby’s eyes.
Vitamin A also helps develop good vision and strong bones. Mangos also
contain a great deal of Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron, develops
healthy immune function and regenerates damaged tissue. It also contains
magnesium, which can help prevent leg cramps!
How much? As much as you like!
Mozzarella is a great-tasting cheese that’s safe for pregnant women
to eat, but it also helps bridge the gap if your calcium intake is a little
low. It’s also a great cheese for sandwiches, salads, or even eating
on its own in small portions. Make a pizza, put it on some spinach, or
use mozzarella on sandwiches—mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil on
toast are a great and fast alternative to pizza.
If you’re not into mozzarella, the FDA recently approved soft cheeses
for consumption while pregnant—just make sure the cheese was made
with pasteurized milk! If you don’t want to risk it, cheddar is
a safe cheese for eating while pregnant.
Sometimes, eating for your child’s sake should include some food
for the soul. While cheese has some nutritional benefits, this entry on
the list is more about mental and emotional benefits. This entry also
makes a point about eating for the sake of your body while expecting—it’s
not about deprivation, but about being
deliberate with what you eat. As long as you keep your child’s nutritional needs
in mind, there’s no reason not to eat what you enjoy!*
*Assuming, of course, that you’re avoiding foods and substances that
are dangerous for developing fetuses, like mercury-poisoned fish or unpasteurized