Healthy Foods To Eat While Pregnant
You are pregnant and now eating for two. And no, that doesn't mean you get to take whatever your eating and times it by two. What it does mean is you need to start making healthy and smart decisions on what you are putting into your body. Any nutrients you get, so does baby which means any nutrients you aren't eating, baby isn't receiving. Here are some healthy meals and snacks you can eat for a nutritious pregnancy. You can also check out my blog post on why you should consume folic acid and eat healthy meals here.
The key word here is "dried". When you use dried beans instead of getting them from a can, they contain the good stuff and aren’t packed with preservatives. You also save a lot of money by rinsing and soaking your beans yourself when you purchase them in bulk (like from Sprouts or Whole Foods). Plus, beans and lentils are great for getting enough protein in your diet, whether you are a vegetarian or vegan, or simply don’t eat a lot of meat. I know that when I was pregnant the thought of eating grilled chicken grossed me out. I don't know why but I did not want to eat it. Beans were a great substitute! Also, they are low in fat and calories, contain lots of fiber, and even have some folate. Eat beans or lentils as a side dish, in soup or chili, or on salads.
If you are a meat eater, you should focus on lean cuts of meat for adequate protein. These are excellent at providing you with energy due to the high protein content, as well as providing excellent amino acids for your growing baby’s cell production. It can also help stabilize your blood sugar, reducing your hunger overall and preventing overeating between meals. Some good lean meats include turkey, chicken, and some pork and beef. Also, when I was pregnant, I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks. When I was admitted into the hospital a nurse had told me that the same thing had happened to her and a doctor told her to eat more protein to reduce the risk of delivering prematurely. She followed the doctors advice and after eating more protein her contractions were minimal and she had her baby at 40 weeks! I tried the same thing and my contractions weren't as bad as they were in the beginning and I made it to 38 weeks! Overall, make sure you are eating enough protein each day.
Artichokes are known powerfoods that are very nutritious and easy to prepare. You can prepare a meal with artichoke, such as a salad or a casserole, or you can simply steam or boil the vegetable and eat it with some melted butter. Artichokes have a lot of folate, which you need for a healthy baby, but also to help boost your energy and help block enzymes. Artichokes also have fiber to prevent constipation (which is bound to happen while pregnant), as well as a variety of other nutrients.
In terms of vegetables, one of the best powerfoods to have during pregnancy is broccoli. This simple vegetable is packed with nutrients, including folate, vitamin C, and calcium. It has antioxidants to help prevent illness and disease, with fiber to prevent constipation. It also helps you absorb more iron to boost your energy levels, thanks to the vitamin C content. Try different ways of eating your broccoli, such as dipping it in hummus, having a broccoli salad, or adding it to a side of pasta or rice with some roasted chicken.
Yogurt is also considered a powerfood during pregnancy due to its high calcium content. This doesn’t just help you have strong bones, but helps with your baby’s bone development, as well as nerve and muscle function.
Fruit and Cheese
An excellent snack combo to enjoy during pregnancy is fruit and cheese. Different fruits will contain different types of vitamins, such as fiber from apples or vitamin C from oranges and other citrus fruits. The cheese will provide a good amount of protein and calcium, which are important during pregnancy. This snack is simple to eat at any time of the day, easy to bring to work, and also easy to bring with you when going to the park or even walking and eating while walking your dog. Plus, if you are like me one of your cravings will be cheese. I ate probably five string cheeses a day (oops).
Cereal With Berries
A good way to get plenty of fiber, protein, calcium, and antioxidants with your snack is having a small bowl of cereal with berries. Choose a high-fiber or whole grain cereal, then combine that with milk of your choice. Cow's milk, soy milk, and almond milk are all good choices. Fill up the top with fresh berries for added vitamins and antioxidants.
Hummus With Veggies
Veggies are a great snack to have, but sometimes a little boring all on its own. Instead of combining them with a dip that might not have a lot of nutrients, even though delicious, try hummus. Hummus is almost entirely made up of chickpeas, so you are getting even more veggies just with the dip alone. Dip your favorite raw veggies in the hummus (I like dipping carrots or cucumbers), and add a few pieces of pita bread or pita chips as well. This is a low-fat snack that is easy to prepare and provides you with a lot of nutrients.
Bananas and Peanut Butter
A delicious and nutritious snack to enjoy between meals during pregnancy is bananas with peanut butter. You can try this a few different ways. An easy way is to simply spread some peanut butter on the banana and have little bites. You can also dip a frozen banana in peanut butter for a treat in the evenings, or have yourself a banana and peanut butter smoothie with almond milk. What I love about this is it is perfect for when I have a sweet tooth and need a little sugar.
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast! They make a wonderful snack when you’re pregnant due to the high level of vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium and other nutrients. You can have a hardboiled egg with cheese or fruit, have some scrambled eggs, or enjoy an egg on a whole-grain English muffin. If you want a more filing snack, consider making some egg salad for a nice sandwich. Remember not to consume runny, raw eggs due to the potential of consuming bacteria.
Juices and Smoothies
If you enjoy having orange juice in the morning, why not add more nutrients and make it more filling with an orange smoothie? This turns it into a healthy and filling breakfast that is easy to enjoy at home or bring with you to work. Simply combine a peeled orange with plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, some frozen orange juice concentrate or straight orange juice without added sugar, and ice cubes. This tastes more like a dessert, but it provides you an excellent amount of vitamin C, as well as calcium from the yogurt.
Mixed Berry Smoothie
Another easy smoothie to make is one with mixed berries. The great thing about this is that you can choose any types of berries you enjoy or that are currently in season. Some good berries for a mixed berry smoothie include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cherries. Choose whichever combination you like and add them to a blender with yogurt, ice, some almond milk, and flavoring like honey. You can also add some flaxseed for a nice punch of extra nutrition.
Pear and Lemon Juice
For juicing, you can choose any combination of fruits and vegetables you like. Even with spinach, kale, or other greens, it will taste more like the fruit you add than the vegetable. A fun combination includes a sweet and juicy pear along with an acidic fruit like lemon. The lemon really adds to the overall flavor, while the pear sweetens it up. With this base of fruit, you can add any herbs or vegetables you like, such as basil and kale, or spinach and rosemary.
You can’t go wrong with a green juice! They are easy to put together and basically use whatever produce you have on hand. Use either spinach or kale as the “green” part of your juice. After adding a large helping of your greens, choose any fruit juice you like, such as apples, lime, mango, lemons, or pineapples. Some produce should be pulsed lightly before adding other ingredients, such as pineapple or spinach. This tends to be a little harder for the juicer to handle, so it may take a little longer to get what you need for your green juice.
Remember, if you decide to buy bottled or canned juice, make sure you look for something that is organic with no added sugar or preservatives and also double check that it is pasteurized.
This is naturally one of the easiest ways to get a lot of nutrients all in one simple lunch. It is super easy to bring salad to work, much easier than you might imagine. There are also a few different ways to do it. First of all, if you struggle with lettuce wilting due to the chicken and veggies on top, you can try separating the lettuce from the veggies. Another option is to put your salad in a bowl or mason jar with the heavier items like chicken, fish, or veggies on the bottom, then the lighter ingredients like lettuce and cheese on the top. This prevents it from getting too weighed down. Bring along the dressing in a separate container.
Making a sandwich is another great idea since there are endless possibilities. You can have a vegetarian sandwich by putting some hummus and veggies inside a pita with a side dish of fresh fruit, or have yourself some roasted turkey inside to slices of whole-grain bread with as many veggies as you can fit inside. You are better off using your own chicken or turkey from a bird you have cooked yourself and make sure you stay away from deli meats that might contain listeria unless you are having a hot sandwich. Heating up deli meats is often recommended by physicians. It is also safe to have tuna and crab, which make delicious sandwiches.
Soup is such a wonderful addition to your work lunch rotation since they are easy to make and store for several days in the refrigerator or freezer. You can follow a recipe or simple add some vegetable or chicken broth with any veggies, beans, lentils, and meat you have. You can also get ready-made soups at supermarkets, but make sure you look for the fresh soups, and not the canned soups. You don’t want a lot of salt and preservatives every day for your work lunch, or your pregnancy swelling will be a lot worse.
A wrap is a simple lunch to make with lots of options. If you are a vegetarian, you can easily prepare a wrap with veggies, cooked rice, and sauce inside of a whole wheat tortilla or lettuce leaf. Meat eaters can use turkey or chicken as the protein source inside a spinach tortilla with your choice of veggies. Wraps are a good way to use up the rest of your leftovers and any produce you happen to have lying around.
I hope reading this got you motivated to start eating healthy so you can provide wonderful minerals and nutrients to your growing baby!