There’s always been a conversation about what foods you’re supposed to avoid during pregnancy, starting with too much coffee and all the way to high mercury fish. There is a lot of controversy on the matter, though, and the best route for that is to see what your doctor recommends for you based on your body and blood work. 

In today’s post, I want to focus on foods that you should be eating during pregnancy to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients needed.  And while the general message of eating a nutrient dense diet and making sure you’re getting a good amount of protein, carbs and healthy fats stands, we’re here to get specific about it all. So with lots of things to cover, let’s just get right into it. And remember, if you’re unsure about any foods, always consult your doctor first!

Let’s start with some major nutrients that should be incorporated into your diet while pregnant. 

Calcium is key so the baby can build bones, teeth as well as nerves and muscles. It’s recommended to have 1000 mg daily. 

 –Vitamin D is needed to support the immune system, as well as its ability to support Calcium in its function.  It is recommended to have 600 IU per day. 

Iodine is a mineral that aids in baby’s brain and nervous system development processes. Taking 290 micrograms daily should be sufficient. 

-Folic Acid is another important one that can help reduce potential risk of neural tube defects. It’s  recommended to take at least 600 micrograms of this one daily.

DHA is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids, and it is needed for baby’s brain and eye development. 200-300 milligrams daily is recommended for this one. 

Iron is needed more during pregnancy than you would normally need. It aids in making more blood cells that can carry oxygen to the baby. 27 milligrams are the recommendation for this one. 

While it is important to take all these into consideration, consulting with your doctor about your needs is crucial. A lot of the supplement intake is dependent on what YOUR specific body needs and can tell you that based on your blood work. 

Your doctor will also be able to recommend you vitamin complex and any other supplements that you might need.

Before I get into all the foods and why they are beneficial during pregnancy, I want to mention that there’s no way to know in advance if you’re going to be completely turned off by the smell or taste of these. While you enjoyed salmon before getting pregnant, baby might protest completely against it. Or call for ice cream and pretzels every night. On top of that, cravings during different pregnancies will also be different. 

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I encourage you to give these foods a try and use them for optimal nutrition: 

Dairy Products-yogurt, milk, cheese, you name it, are a great source of protein and calcium that is needed for the development of bones, preventing blood clotting, aiding muscle contraction and regulating heart rhythm.

Milk is not only a good source of calcium, but also is a way to get some vitamin D, iodine as well as protein into your system. Using milk in coffee or smoothie, or even having a bowl of cereal can be a way to work it into your diet.

Greek yogurt is great as it also had probiotics that supports digestive health. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, there’s a chance you might be ok to have yogurt, specifically probiotic one. It’s something worth testing with your doctor to see. 

Legumes-lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, peas, different types of beans all fall into this category. Legumes are a great source of fiber and protein, they also contain iron, calcium and folate that your body needs during pregnancy. 

Folate is an important one, it’s part of the B vitamins, specifically B9 and is needed for the baby to be able to form brain as well as nervous system. 

Lentils are a great source of fiber, that is good for digestive health. 

Sweet Potatoes-is probably one of the most delicious veggies out there. You can fry it, bake it, make desserts with it, you name it and all of them will be as tasty as the other. More importantly, sweet potatoes also contain beta-carotene, a compound that once in the system gets converted into vitamin A. 

Vitamin A is needed for baby’s development, especially in the first trimester, when the cells are being divided quickly in order to become different organs and body parts. 

While you can also get vitamin A from animal sources such as organ meats, too much of those in the system can be toxic, so going with sweet potatoes is a significantly safer route. On top of vitamin A you’re also getting fiber, that will help you stay full for longer and keep your blood sugar in check. 

Salmon- grilled, baked, wild salmon is a fantastic food during pregnancy. Salmon is a source of DHA Omega-3 fatty acids that are needed for a variety of reasons. Our bodies can’t naturally produce DHA on their own,  omega-3s are needed in metabolism of vitamins A and E, salmon consumption been shown to reduce risk of depression during pregnancy, and it’s needed for eye and brain development in the baby. 

On top of all these, salmon also is a source of iodine and vitamin D. 

If you’re worried about mercury, salmon is safe, however you should stay away from these-marlin, king mackerel, shark, bigeye tuna, swordfish. 

Lean meat-is obviously a great source of protein, but also contains amino-acids that are the main building blocks of cells in the body. Protein, being one of the macronutrients, is needed in larger quantities in the body, and by having 3 servings per day you should be able to reach a decent amount of protein per day. 

Apart from amino-acids, beef and pork contain iron, choline and B vitamins, that are great during pregnancy. Iron is truly crucial, it is used by red blood cells and with a growing baby your blood volume increases, and you need more iron. Anemia is also fairly common, especially in the 3rd trimester, so making sure your Iron levels are where they need to be is so important, as anemia can cause potential birth complications.  

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or you happen to get an aversion towards meats, it is crucial to prioritize your iron supplementation to make sure you’re where you need to be. 

Eggs-are a fantastic food that contains so many different nutrients, as well as protein and fat. Eggs contain choline, a nutrient important for brain development. Vitamin D is another big nutrient that you can get out of eggs. 

A single egg can get you about 150 mg of Choline, with the daily recommendation being 450 mg and 44IU of vitamin D with the recommendation of 600IU per day. 

You can cook eggs in dishes, make an omelet, boil them or cook them on a pan. While some ways are healthier than others, there’s always room to enjoy some eggs. 

Avocado-is a fruit, but unlike many others that are mostly carbs, this one is filled with monounsaturated fatty acids. Avocados contain lots of nutrients and are high in fiber, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, potassium, vitamins E and C. 

Vitamin B6 is known to promote tissue formation as well as skin and aid in brain growth for the baby. It also has been found to minimize morning sickness. 

Avocados are also rich in potassium, that can aid in reliving leg muscle cramps that can sometimes happen during pregnancy. 

There are so many different ways to consume them, from cutting them in halves, adding some salt on top and eating with a spoon, to making guacamole, or using it in a salad or on top of a toast. 

Dried fruit-dates, prunes, figs, apricots, mangoes are a great source of fiber as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. They contain the same amount of nutrient content that a fresh fruit does, but devoid of water. It’s important to keep in mind that dried fruit is higher in calories and while it is easy to eat a lot of it, it’s something to keep an eye out. 

While sugar in dried fruit is natural, it can easily add on. 

Fish liver oil-just like salmon, fish liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, both EPA and DHA, that are needed for brain and eye development of the baby. Fish liver oil is most often made out of cod’s liver. 

Supplementing fish liver oil is a great way to get vitamin D as well as vitamin A. It’s recommended to have one serving per day, as too much vitamin A can be dangerous. 

Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids are sardines, tuna as well as salmon, of course. 

Nuts-if nuts are currently not in your diet, you should definitely throw some in. They are filled with vitamins and minerals, including magnesium and zinc, potassium, vitamin E. On top of that they are just generally a great source of protein and fat as well as fiber. 

While some nuts will differ in their nutritional profile, there’s really no wrong answer. Walnuts will get you some omega-3s and calcium, while peanuts are higher in folate. 

The fats in nuts are considered good fats, so while eating the whole large bag is not recommended, adding them to your meals or as a snack in moderation is 

Berries-that earth’s fruit is filled with so many good things-healthy carbs, vitamin C as well as being rich in fiber and antioxidants. 

Berries are a great source of carbohydrates that won’t spike your blood sugar levels. You can have them as a snack or add them to your meals or smoothies. 

Whole Grains-are filled with fiber and vitamins. Great sources are oats and quinoa. Both of those contain protein on top of other vitamins. 

Main vitamins, that can be found in whole grains are vitamin B, fiber and magnesium. You can eat them as a side dish or mixed it with a meal. Oats are great in the smoothies or baking, and quinoa can be added into dishes and salads. 

Water-while it is not food, it’s so important to stay hydrated when you’re not pregnant and significantly more important when you are. With pregnancy, your blood volume increases by 45 percent. 

While the general recommendation for pregnant women is to drink about 2.3 liters of water, how much water you need is completely dependent on you. Water aids in the delivery of nutrient to your body as well as the baby, so staying fully hydrated is absolutely crucial. 

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