Q. What are good things to eat when pregnant? I’ve seen several tips and tricks, but I want to know what is the absolute healthiest, for both the mother and the baby?
A. Pregnant women should eat a variety of foods to ensure optimal nutrition at this exciting time in their life. During pregnancy women especially need folic acid, iron, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber. Folic acid found in leafy green vegetables and enriched grain products is crucial for preventing birth defects in the brain and spinal column of a developing baby. Iron is important for carrying oxygen in blood cells and muscles, and helps prevent fatigue, weakness, and illness and is important for the expanding blood volume to support the baby during pregnancy. Iron is found in a variety of foods including meats, some fruits (raisins, dried apricots, etc.) and vegetables such as spinach. To enhance absorption of iron, foods high in vitamin C should be consumed in the same meal. Vitamin C is also crucial for pregnant mothers to boost their immune system which is compromised during pregnancy. Citrus fruits are always an excellent source of vitamin C, but try Brussels sprouts or bell peppers to change it up.
Calcium and vitamin D are both essential for bone growth and development during pregnancy. Vitamin D must be present in the diet in order for calcium to be absorbed by the body. Dairy foods such as milk and yogurt are the typical sources of calcium; however, green leafy vegetables such as collard greens are also a good choice. Vitamin D is found in fortified dairy and cereal products, some fish, eggs, and some mushrooms. Lastly, fiber is necessary to aid digestion. Pregnant women can have a slower rate of digestion due to hormones or from loss of space in the abdomen. Dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables can help move food through the digestive tract to prevent constipation in pregnant women.
4 Tips for a Healthy Pregnacy
1) continue to eat a healthy diet, just a little bit more of it
2) take your prescribed supplements
3) get regular exercise (walking is good), and
4) don’t use this as an excuse to eat a lot of dessert.