So you’re pregnant and you keep hearing that you should eat nutritious and balanced meals. And that’s because it’s true. Having food that’s packed in nutrients and essential minerals will ensure a healthy baby and a healthier pregnancy for you.
And while all you are craving for is some potato chips and chocolates, it might not be the best for you. Spoiler alert.
Haha. But you knew that already, didn’t you?
So, if you want to eat healthy while pregnant, here are some foods that are high in nutrients and are really good for both you and the baby. The key to making a healthy eating plan when pregnant is focussing on the foods that are packed with nutrition. So here are all the foods that you should be eating now that you are pregnant:
Lentils are packed with protein are a good source of iron too. A cup of cooked lentils has about 17 grams of protein and about 7 mg of iron. Apart from that, lentils are also rich in folic acid or folate, which is essential for the development of your baby’s spine. Lentils are also high in fibre, which keeps you fuller for longer.
How to eat them: And, if that’s not enough, there are so many ways to eat them. You could cook lentils like a soup, which can be had with a salad or rice or some form of carbohydrates. Or you could add boiled lentils like chickpeas and black gram directly to your salads. Or even better, make hummus.
2. Milk & Milk products:
Growing a baby and an entire set of bones and teeth is no easy feat and take up so much calcium. So it only makes sense that you include calcium rich foods in your diet. So milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese should be on your radar.
Yogurt is especially beneficial as it is packed with calcium and is low in fats. But not all yogurts are same. plain greek yogurt is the best. The flavoured fruit yogurts? Not so much as they are full of added sugars. So keep that in mind too.
I was not able to keep milk down almost throughout my pregnancy even though I am not lactose intolerant. If that’s the case, try including it in other forms like yogurt, yogurt smoothies, lassis or even rick and milk pudding (kheer) which is a favourite in my household.
Eggs are probably a super food when it comes to eating right while you are pregnant. They are packed with nutrients and are so easy to cook and eat too. Plus, there are like a million ways to eat them and include them in your diet.
Eggs are packed with protein, which is much needed for baby’s development. Eggs are also a great source of choline, which is a nutrient that’s vital for pregnant women.
How to eat: there are so many ways you could eat eggs ranging from boiled, omelettes and scrambled. However, there are some concerns about eating raw eggs or slightly undercooked eggs. So make sure you’re consuming cooked eggs and if having boiled then hard boiled rather than soft boiled eggs.
This little fruit is packed with healthy fats and also vitamin B6. That fats present in avocados are healthy mono saturated fats which make sit easier for your body to absorb other vitamins and nutrients better. It also helps keep you fuller for longer.
How to eat: Avocado toast made with whole wheat or other grains like rye or ragi. You could make guacamole, YES! And also use avocado as a spread in your sandwiches in place of mayo.
5. NUTS & Seeds:
Pretty much like avocado, nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats which are good for you and the baby. The provide essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. They also make a great snack that’s portable too. So make sure to have some handy at your work desk to munch on when hunger strikes.
And while all nuts and seeds are good, some are especially helpful. Almonds are a great source of calcium, walnuts are rich in omega 3 fats and peanuts are packed in folate.
How to eat: Have some as a healthy snack to munch on. Or you could add them to your smoothies as a topping or in the smoothie itself. Just make sure you are eating them in moderation too because they could cause weight gain.
6. Kale and leafy greens:
Rich in folate, Iron, vitamin C, kale and other leafy greens like spinach deserve a place on your plate. They are packed with nutrients and vitamins which are good for you and also help in keeping your body free of toxins.. They also ensure a good blood supply, which is important during pregnancy.
How to eat: There are agin so many ways to include kale and leafy greens in your diet ranging from smoothies, kale chips, and green wraps. But my favourite way to include more greens is to make a palak paneer (spinach and home made cottage cheese) curry. Packed with nutrients and packed with flavours as well.
While fruits in general are a must during your pregnancy, bananas are a super food.
Bananas are a great fruit to eat during your pregnancy. They are not only nutritious, but quite easy on the stomach too, which comes in handy especially when you’re feeling nauseous during those early months.
They are also a great source of potassium, which is essential for your baby’s growth.
How to eat: You could have bananas as is, as a mid day snack. or of you don’t like the taste, try chopping and freezing them and then adding them to your smoothies. My favourite way to eat them is as pancake toppings. And when your pancakes are made with whole grain flour, there is no reason not to indulge. And even if you decide to make a banana bread, I won’t tell.
8: Whole grains:
Whole grains are packed with good fibre. They are also great because they help maintain your blood sugar and blood pressure at healthy levels. Moreover 20-30 gms of fibre a day can help you feel fuller for longer and help in keeping those pregnancy cravings at bay. It’s also great as it helps with pregnancy constipation.
So include whole grains in your diet like oats, quinoa etc. And whenever choosing bread, make sure you’re going for one which is made from whole grains rather than highly processed all purpose flour.
How to eat: Oatmeals is the easiest way to have oats and start your day right. However if you do not like oatmeal, you could try adding oats to your smoothies and even your pancakes.
9. Sweet potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are a great addition to your pregnancy diet plan. they are packed of nutrients and are rich in vitamin A which is essential in early stages of development.
And the best part? They can be cooked in so many different ways. From sweet potato fries to using them as a base for your morning toast, it is a highly versatile food.
While staying hydrated is important for everyone, it is especially more important for pregnant people. Did you know your blood volume will increase by as much as 45% during pregnancy?
So you need to keep yourself hydrated to avoid dehydration symptoms like headaches, constipation etc. Drinking enough water also helps to prevent you against the risk of urinary tract infections, which are quite common during pregnancy.
So keep a water bottle with you at all times and make sure you’re drinking at least 2.5 litres of water every single day. If you do not like drinking plain water, add ice or flavour your water with berries or cucumber and keep drinking through out the day.
Carrot are packed with beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A is essential for development of baby’s eyes, skin and other organs. They are also high in fibre, which as we all know is great for the baby and for mamas too. And they are such a fuss free snack to munch on during the day. They are super portable too.
How to eat: Try adding them to your blender while making smoothies or simply grating and adding them to bread batter. Carrots are also amazing with hummus and make for such a tasty and nutritious snack.
Berries are also a super food, especially if you consider the nutrients they pack in such a small packet. Berries are full of minerals and vitamins and also anti oxidants, which helps your body detoxify.
Berries are also great because they do not cause a blood sugar spike like some other fruits likes mangoes. They also contain a lot of water and fibre, which are both great for pregnant people.
How to eat: Eat berries as a snack or freeze and add them to your smoothies to add flavour and nutrients. You could also top a bowl of yogurt with berries and some honey when you’re craving something sweet.
So these are the 12 foods you should be eating daily, now that you are pregnant. Having nutritious meals is the key to a healthy pregnancy. It’s normal to worry that you are not eating enough nutritious foods, but being more intentional about nutrition and watching your meals is the way to go. Pay special attention to what you’re snacking on throughout the day and make sure your snacks are not simply empty calories.
And if you’re still concerned whether you are eating right or not, talk to your practitioner and discuss your diet in detail. That should help you determine where you are lacking and what all you can include in your diet to have a healthy pregnancy.