Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s key to remember to keep balance, moderation and variety in your diet. What you eat during pregnancy can have a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of you and your little one. Regardless of if you’re planning on conceiving or if the bun is already in the oven, eating a well balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy can make all the difference.
If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that your body is capable of creating another human being. It’s possible that your baby is doing acrobats in your tummy and the last thing you are thinking of is food – but we’ve got some tips for you on some of the nutrients to squeeze in for an optimal pregnancy.
GET YOUR DHA, MAMA!
Maybe you are juggling parenting duties already or you are just busy adulting – with your brain running a million miles a minute. DHA to the rescue! Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in food sources like fish and algae. DHA is important for brain and cognitive function and the baby’s brain. It may not be able to help you juggle all the balls you have in the air as a busy mama, but DHA can help with focus and concentration. It’s also needed for baby’s actual brain development as well as development of their eyes and nervous system. Make sure your food sources for DHA omega-3 are lower in mercury including fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies. Additionally, walnuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds can help you load up on Omega 3. If you do not eat fish, these foods might not be enough and it might be time to consider taking a DHA supplement.
Seaweed is a source of DHA rich in fibre – which can also be helpful at reducing constipation. While pregnant, red and green seaweed can be eaten more than brown seaweed since they’ve got a more moderate amount of iodine. Adequate amounts of iodine are important but it’s equally important not to overdo iodine while pregnant. Please consult your doctor on the adequate amounts for you. On the flip side, did you know that seaweed is a great source of B12? This is great news if you’re vegan or vegetarian as it can be tricky to get enough B12. Not sure how to eat seaweed? Make a seaweed salad. Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds with seaweed for a fun and nutritious salad, or you can also add it to a nice warm broth of miso soup!
EAT YOUR CHOLINE
There are other nutrients that are often overlooked in pregnancy such as choline. Choline helps protect your developing baby against neural tube defects. It also helps the baby’s brain and central nervous system development. Taking a prenatal supplement is recommended and offers some choline but it’s also good to include foods that have choline such as eggs, lean meat, quinoa and potatoes.
NOT TOO LATE FOR FOLATE
On the same team as choline is folate. While the two are not the same, they both share functions of supporting healthy brain and spinal cord development and protects against neural tube defects. In an ideal world, increasing folate intake three months before conceiving is preferred but incorporating it while pregnant is a good idea as it can also help with decreasing nausea. Foods that have high folate are lentils, dark leafy greens and beans.
The power and importance of protein is underrated as it is essential for baby’s growth, including brain and heart development. Think of your baby as a miniature bodybuilder, building its body with the foods you feed it such as protein. Protein is the building block of your own body too, repairing tissues and building muscle, hair, skin and nails. Sources of protein are lean meats, fish, eggs, red kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas to name a few. If you are vegan or vegetarian, now is the time to make sure you’re consuming adequate amounts of protein – besides legumes, other sources are soy (tofu and tempeh), nuts and seeds, and quinoa, which is a complete protein. What that means is that it has all the essential amino acids.
PUMPING IRON IS NOT JUST FOR THE GYM
When planning for pregnancy, it’s a good idea to test for iron levels, as iron deficiency is common when pregnant. Iron is crucial as it helps keep your red blood cells healthy as they carry oxygen to your body’s cells, as these are needed for your health as you are growing a little human and your baby’s growth. If you are planning for parenthood, building up your iron stores before you get pregnant is a very proactive thing to do and adding iron food sources during pregnancy is great too, so you can have more energy during your days. As low iron during pregnancy can lead to low energy, weakness and fatigue. Nutrients that we just mentioned being very important during pregnancy, folate as well as B12 are also key in preventing low iron or even anemia during pregnancy.
There are lots of ways to get iron, even if you are eating a plant based diet. For example, white beans, kidney beans and lentils are iron sourced foods. And dark, leafy greens are your friends as they are loaded with iron. Are you so sick of eating greens just as they are? Blend them in a smoothie for a vibrant green colour drink and extra nutrients such as calcium, iron and folic acid. Try making kale chips or pesto for some tasty and healthy snacks. Tired of greens and craving something sweet? Even dark chocolate has iron! Get your iron and sweet tooth fix at once, sweet mama.
We know what you’re thinking: how can you possibly have MORE water while your baby is bouncing on your bladder like a gymnast doing flips on a trampoline? The truth is though, pregnant women need anywhere from 10 to 12 cups of water a day. This is to help blood flow to the baby, to reduce their risk of fluid retention while also helping the amniotic fluid around your baby.
Are you tired of boring old water or maybe feeling nauseous and or/vomiting?
Pour yourself some hot water, chop up some ginger and add cinnamon, honey and even fresh mint to give the extra boost for digestion. Ginger can alleviate nausea and prevent vomiting. It’s also a digestive aid, helps relieve gas, boosts your immune system and can relieve those sore, achy muscles aches from pregnancy
Are you feeling overwhelmed with making nutritious dishes to feed yourself or your family while you’re growing your human? Contact us to help. We’re happy to feed you with foods that will help support you during this sacred time before or after your bundle of joy is here. We’ve got meal plans that will help keep you full, balance mood and hormones and keep you balanced during your first few weeks of being a new parent.
This blog post is meant to educate on the nutrients important for pregnancy and how to incorporate them with food sources. If you are taking supplements for these nutrients, it is important to see your doctor, so you get the correct dosage for you.
Written by Amber Bechard, student of IHN.
Amber Bechard is a sales enthusiast and blogger who loves to share knowledge and laughter.