Pregnancy can be a scary time when it comes to knowing exactly how you should be looking after yourself and your baby.
There is also so much conflicting information out there, it can be a minefield trying to work out exactly which advice you should take and which advice you should ignore – but there are some foods that are proven to give you and your pregnancy a nutritional boost.
Top foods to eat in pregnancy
Colourful Fruits & Vegetables
One of the best ways to ensure that you get a wide range of nutrients and vitamins is to eat a wide range of colours. All coloured fruits and vegetables have different nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, and exposing your unborn baby to these foods whilst still in the womb will increase the likelihood that they will enjoy these fruits and veggies later on in life.
Although ‘wholegrains’ may sound a little boring, they are an excellent food to eat in pregnancy. They contain loads of fibre, nutrients and 3 specific plant compounds that are known to protect cells. A few wholegrains you could try include popcorn – (yes, that’s right, popcorn!) fluffy wholemeal bread, quinoa, oatmeal and barley. Brown rice and wholemeal pasta are also excellent wholegrains as they are filling and delicious.
Eggs contain lots and lots of protein, which is super useful for supporting your baby’s cells and their growth. All cells are made of protein, and as a pregnant mother, you have your own protein needs too. Eggs are also rich in choline, which will help to promote your baby’s overall health, brain health and growth. Make sure that you prepare them in a low fat way – i.e. scramble them, boil them or poach them – just don’t fry them!
Lean meat is another way to pack plenty of protein into your pregnancy diet. Any type of meat is fine, provided it is lean – i.e. pork, beef, chicken, game etc. Remember to cook your meat all the way through – rare is definitely not the way to cook meat when you are pregnant. You should also steer clear of deli meats, unless they are cooked through until very hot. If you eat deli meats cold, you run the risk of passing bacteria onto your baby.
Dark Green Vegetables
Dark green vegetables, such as spinach, are actually my favourite type of vegetables. I love their irony, rich flavour. The bonus is, they are an excellent food to eat during pregnancy as they are chock a block full of vitamins, such as vitamin A, C and K, and they also contain a nutrient known to promote healthy eyes. They also contain lots of folate, too, which is excellent for pregnant women.
Salmon is a brilliant fish to eat during pregnancy. It has lots and lots of protein, healthy omega-3 fats and unlike some other oily fish, it is low in levels of methyl mercury, which is a harmful toxin that could damage your baby’s nervous system. Make sure you eat less than 12 ounces of fish per week, even fish that is low in mercury, to avoid ingesting too much harmful methyl mercury.
Greek yoghurt is the best type of yoghurt to eat during pregnancy as it contains roughly twice the amount of protein as any other yoghurt. As with any other yoghurt, Greek yoghurt is also packed with calcium which is a very important nutrient for pregnancy. Your baby needs lots of calcium for healthy bones and teeth, and if you are not taking in enough calcium in your diet, your baby will take it from you – which could cause problems with your bones and teeth in the future.
Walnuts are yet another good source of healthy omega-3 fats, which are vitally important for your baby’s brain growth and health. They are also a handy foodstuff as you can eat them on the go without having to worry about cooking or preparing them – so keep a handful of walnuts in your bag to get a hit of omega-3s whilst you’re out and about.
Beans are another brilliant source of protein and above all else, they are brilliantly filling and they contain tons of fibre. Taking in plenty of fibre during pregnancy will help to prevent uncomfortable problems such as haemorrhoids and constipation. Beans also contain iron, zinc, folate and calcium, which are all essential nutrients for pregnant mothers.