Sifting through all those must-have pregnancy foods for a healthy diet can be a little daunting. You want to buy fresh and organic for your developing baby…when possible, and get all the necessary nutrients for your own body to sustain a pregnancy.
But sometimes there’s just so much to remember: What you should be eating daily. What you shouldn’t be. And what you should avoid at all costs. The list goes on and on.
When I think back to my shopping habits during pregnancy a few things come to mind.
Each time I went to the grocery store to buy the essentials, I learned to make small changes here and there to make sure I was getting all the nutrients my body and growing baby needed. Small changes in the way I chose pregnancy foods that didn’t cause a major headache.
I wanted to share those things with you today.
7 Easy Ways to Choose Pregnancy-Friendly Foods
1. Look for foods with added calcium.
Calcium is one of those essential nutrients you need to manage when you’re expecting. As the baby inside you grows, it also takes many necessary nutrients from mommy — calcium being one of them. That’s why many expectant moms suffer from calcium-deficiency. One simple way to avoid calcium-related health issues is to simply make sure you’re getting enough calcium throughout the day in your foods. Milk and yogurt should be at the top of your list here, but when you’re just not getting enough, picking up some orange juice with added calcium is a great option. (Plus, sometimes one glass of this oj gives you even more calcium than a cup of milk would). You can also find certain brands of margarine or butter with added calcium!
You can also consider calcium supplements to ensure you get the exact amount you need!
2. Buy organic whenever possible.
I know this is an often debated topic: whether organic foods really make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. But most of the research does indicate a difference in taste and safety when it comes to pesticide use (meaning, your chances of getting pesticide residue or other synthetic ingredients is less with organic).
I have definitely noticed a difference in taste when buying organic over non-organic fruits like apples, pears and strawberries. Then there are some fruits where buying organic doesn’t make a difference (bananas – because of the skin that isn’t eaten ;)!.
Whatever you opt for, just remember that a little organic here and there can only help your health and well-being!
3. Choose fiber-rich snacks.
Fiber is another important nutrient during pregnancy. It’s essential for getting your body ready to push out a baby, but also pretty important to help thwart constipation during pregnancy because fiber-rich foods will help you eliminate waste.
I would often just grab granola bars when looking to up my fiber intake, but it’s also good to get them from natural sources like whole-grain cereals, breads, beans, fresh fruits and veggies and dried fruits. Make sure to toss those in your grocery cart too!
4. Avoid the sugar.
Wait one second! As a pregnant momma you are most certainly entitled to enjoy the occasional sweets (and by all means do so!). But overdoing the sugar thing isn’t recommended for a healthy pregnancy. I’ll be the first to admit to using the “eating for two” excuse when munching on my favorite desserts and candies, but I think the key here is balance, especially when it comes to the sugar intake.
As you move through your pregnancy, you are at risk for developing gestational diabetes (cue the dreaded glucose-tolerance test)! So it’s best to pass on the sugary cereals, cookies or snacks that contain artificial sweeteners. (I was even surprised to find some of my favorite yogurts loaded with sugar!)
Next time you’re at the store, be sure to turn over the nutrient label and take a quick read at the grams of sugar for comparison!
5. Look for iron-rich foods.
Another issue that can strike during pregnancy, is anemia. Because your body is working overtime to produce extra blood and nutrients for baby, it may take a toll on you physically if you’re not choosing iron-rich foods. You can become weak and susceptible to infections, while baby may suffer from pre-term and low birth weight. So naturally the smart thing to do is to make sure your food selections include iron: lean red meat, poultry and fish are good sources. (Salmon was something I made sure I ate once or every other week.) Beans, red peppers and spinach are also excellent veggie sources to pick up at the store.
6. Add some protein here and there.
Just like iron, protein is a must to include in your pregnancy diet. It’s a vital building block your body uses to create skin, muscle, hair, and bones — for both you and baby!
But don’t just rely on your meats for getting protein. Scatter protein-rich foods throughout your meals, especially because with morning sickness, small, frequent meals will be key.
Eggs, cheeses, nuts are great protein sources and are easy to incorporate in salads or breakfast muffins.
7. Remember to hydrate!
This one is pretty simple. Water. You need LOTS of it during pregnancy. To fight dry, cracked skin, to replenish the fluids in your body and to make sure baby is happy.
Yes, you can grab that lemonade or apple juice to enjoy with your meals, but don’t forget to stock up on water if you don’t have a filtration system or tap-safe water at home. Even if it’s simply grabbing a water bottle or two, having one in your purse to sip while on-the-go will help you look and feel better!
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.