13 June 2016

You Are What You Eat: Tips for Pregnancy Nutrition

I'm over the moon to be an auntie again! I just recently found out that a very good friend is expecting her first baby. It came as a surprise to her, so she is trying to figure out all of the "do's" and "don'ts" of pregnancy including nutrition guidelines. There's a lot of information available for expectant moms, but I started putting together some nutrition info for her in an effort to help her get up to speed quickly.

During my pregnancy, I went from being a super healthy eater to ... well, just a healthy eater. I listened to my body and generally craved healthy foods like berries and citrus fruit. But I also allowed myself more treats than I otherwise would have eaten-- Hello soft ice cream-- twice a week toward the end of pregnancy! I later learned that soft ice cream is a no-no because the machines can harbor bacteria if they're not cleaned properly. And while there's a whole scary list of things that pregnant women shouldn't eat, on the other hand, it's also an opportunity for women to develop healthier eating habit and commit to a more balanced diet. Eating for mom and baby introduces a new level of awareness about nutrition and consciousness of food choices for many women.

Doctors now advise that expectant moms shouldn't eat for two. Mom to be needs only three hundred extra calories during the second trimester and five hundred during the third trimester. I tried to follow those guidelines. I also had a pretty active pregnancy and added even more calories on the days that I ran, did circuit workouts, went for long walks or did pre-natal exercise DVDs. I didn't go crazy, but I did enjoy full fat yogurt and ice cream, extra peanut butter and avocado, double portions of veggies or whole grains to add calories.

Love it or hate it, What to Expect... has a simple go-to infographic to use as a guide to eating and nutrients. Some bits of info are more helpful than others-- for instance, it says you need 75 grams of protein. How should you calculate it? Use the infographic along with a food tracker like My Fitness Pal, which has a tab to break down your food diary into macros and nutrients.

Here's a quick summary of the What to Expect infographic including best foods to eat and portion sizes, along with additional info I collected about WHY you need certain nutrients.

FRUIT- 5-10 servings per day (tennis ball size serving)

PROTEIN- 3 servings per day
Find it in 2 eggs, 4 oz of red meat or poultry, 4 oz canned tuna (avoid albacore), 1 c greek yogurt 

WHOLE GRAINS- 6 servings per day; full of folate and 
Find it in oatmeal, quinoa, granola, bread and brown rice. 

DAIRY- 3-4 servings rich in calcium, protein and vitamin D.
Find it in eggs, cheese

FATS3-4 servings 14 grams or approximately 120 calories;  necessary for the baby's brain and eye development.  Focus on monosaturated fats found in 1/2 of an avocado, 1/4 c of almonds or a handful of mixed nuts. Polysaturated fats can be beneficial in moderation too. Consider 4 oz of salmon. 


Folic Acid- prevents birth defects and neural tube defects. Getting enough folic acid/folate can help reduce birth defects by as much as 70%. 600 micrograms recommended during the first trimester;  400 micrograms (2nd and 3rd trimester).

Find it in leafy green vegetables, fortified whole grains (breakfast cereal, whole grain bread, pitas, granola, quinoa), citrus and beans

Iron- fights fatigue and infections, and increases oxygen in the blood to the baby. About 20% of pregnant women are iron deficient. Recommended 27-30 mg/day.

Find it in spinach, beans, peas, quinoa, baked potatoes, meat and orange juice. 

Potassium- prevents fatigue and leg cramps

Find it in white beams, dark leafy greens, yogurt, squash, salmon, avocados

Magnesium- helps the body process glucose and secrete insulin to regulate blood sugar.

Find it in spinach, kale, almonds, cashews, salmon, 1/2 c beans, bananas, avocado and dark chocolate

Vitamin A- helps with the absorption of iron, potassium, fiber. Known to ease morning sickness.
Find it in sweet potatoes, carrots, apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers 

Calcium- 3-4 servings; builds strong bones for the baby. 1000 mg. 

Find it in 1 oz of cheese, yogurt, edamame.

Vitamin C- lengthens membranes, helps avoid preterm labor.

Find it in 2/3 c berries, 1/2 c pineapple, red peppers, citrus, 2 c romaine lettuce. 

Here's to health!