A healthy baby comes from a healthy pregnancy. And it all starts with a healthy body! Nourishing your body with a wholesome diet is the first step in this exciting process.
Being overweight or obese at the start of and/or during pregnancy poses health risks for both you and your baby. If you are overweight and become pregnant, you may be at higher risk for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage, postpartum hemorrhage, infections, anxiety and depression, and a need for a C-section. Additionally, your baby’s future health is at stake: high birth weight and increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and psychological disorders may result if you don’t maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy.
On the bright side, beginning a pregnancy overweight or obese does not mean that you should give up hope on having a healthy baby. There is no better time than the present to pay closer attention to what you are eating! With an overwhelming amount of misinformation on the internet, determining the right food regimen for your body can be very confusing. Maintaining a healthy diet, however, should be simple! Shift your focus towards a pregnancy-friendly way of eating with the following tips. With this advice, you’ll be able to maximize your intake of vital nutrients, keep your weight in check, and ultimately support a healthy pregnancy!
5 Diet Tips:
1. Eat more leafy greens. Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, spinach, and dandelion leaves (a bitter green, but packed with nutrients) are excellent sources of calcium, fiber, phytonutrients, and especially folate–a vital nutrient for a developing baby. There is a clear link between low folate and birth defects in babies. Folate is sensitive to heat, so try to eat some of these veggies raw (like in a salad or smoothie).
2. Consume fatty fish at least twice a week from “safe fish” such as wild caught salmon or canned light tuna. You could also reach for eggs in addition or instead, as both are great sources of DHA, an essential omega 3 fatty acid for the baby’s cognitive and vision development. Both contain vitamin D as well, which helps prevent skeletal abnormalities and ensures proper bone growth. In addition, eggs provide choline, an important nutrient during the early stages of pregnancy. For vegetarians or vegans, flax seeds, chia seeds, and nuts are a good source of healthy fats.
3. Limit your coffee and tea intake, as it inhibits the absorption of iron, a mineral needed to make hemoglobin and transport oxygen throughout your body (and the baby’s body). For an energizing, thirst-quenching drink, try this pear zinger juice!
5. Last but not least, now is the time to cut down or eliminate alcohol consumption and intake of high fat or fried foods, high sugar foods such as soda, and processed foods with added chemicals. Alcohol contributes to weight gain and you don’t want to risk your baby’s life by consuming it while pregnant. Also, if you aren’t sure about what the ingredients are in your food, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Instead, try to cook more often and increase your intake of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Try this soothing chicken soup or this healthy quinoa fried rice for your next wholesome meal!
Dr. Nicole Avena’s book “What to Eat When You’re Pregnant” is now available for pre-order on Amazon. In her book you’ll find a trimester-to-trimester guide to what to eat while pregnant and nursing to support a healthy pregnancy and baby during each stage, including 50 recipes!
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.