What to Eat When You're Expecting

Posted On Jun 30, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

What to Eat When You're Expecting

Whether you're currently expecting or hoping to get pregnant, your bundle of joy's health and development depends on mom eating a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet. Long-term immune function and brain development outside of the womb are built on the foundation of what your baby is exposed to while in the womb. While some women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat too much or eat too much of the wrong foods, give you and your baby the healthiest start possible by following these tips, in addition to taking a daily pre-natal vitamin.

What foods should I eat more of?

Choose nutrient rich foods to get more of the key vitamins and minerals you need, including:

  • Iron-lean red meat such as flank or sirloin steak, lean burger, beans, spinach, and fortified cereals are the best sources. Chicken, pork, and turkey have iron but in smaller amounts.
  • Iodine-cheese, yogurt, baked potatoes, salmon, cod, and shrimp.
  • Folate/Folic Acid-Dark leafy greens and beans.
  • Calcium-Dairy or enriched dairy alternatives like almond, soy, and coconut milk, bok choy, and fortified cereals.

How much more food should I eat every day to give my baby what it needs, but not gain too much weight?

Add 200-300 calories a day, the amount of extra energy you need, with nutrition-packed options:

  • 1 medium apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter.
  • Turkey Sandwich with whole-wheat bread, lettuce, and tomato.
  • Greek Yogurt with 2 tablespoons chopped nuts and ΒΌ cup fruit.
  • Smoothie with protein powder, fresh baby spinach, 1 cup of frozen fruit, and 1 cup milk of your choice.

Do I really need to avoid seafood and my morning cup of coffee?

Definitely avoid certain types of fish and seafood, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (or white snapper). Include other types of fish to get omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain development. These include salmon, halibut, cod, shrimp, and tuna.

As for caffeine, limit your daily intake to 2 small cups (12-16oz total) of caffeine drinks per day. Stick with healthier choices like coffee and tea rather than soda and energy drinks, if you're stomach can handle it. Try swapping out full octane coffee and tea for decaf. If you have acid reflux in the later stages of pregnancy, limiting or cutting out caffeine can help ease the burn.

What about alcohol?

Of course, avoiding alcohol altogether is highly recommended. Don't risk it!

Other quick tips

Drink lots of water, eat prunes, blueberries, and raisins if you get plugged up, and don't worry about drinking more cows' milk to help your milk production if you decide to nurse once baby comes. Drinking more milk to produce milk is a myth! Mama cows don't drink milk, right?

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