Pregnant women are often notorious for their dietary choices. However, more than ever women are asked to focus on nutrition rather than cravings during their pregnancies. Foods that moderate weight gain and contain certain vital nutrients prove key components of a good pregnancy diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, fruits and vegetables make up the top of the pregnancy food pyramid. Fruits and vegetables are not only great sources of some of the vital nutrients for a baby’s in utero development, they also prove high in fiber, which can regulate constipation and also minimize excessive weight gain during pregnancy. ACOG recommends dark leafy greens during pregnancy, which are not only high in folic acid, but also contain iron and calcium. Some other great fruits and vegetables for pregnant women include citrus, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes and strawberries.
Fortified Whole Grains
Fortified breads and cereals, especially those made from whole grains, prove another important part of the pregnancy diet. Many fortified whole grains are good sources of folic acid and iron, though they often contain other essential pregnancy vitamins such as calcium. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects, according to WomensHealth.gov. Whole grain breads and cereals also prove good sources of fiber, which can help fill pregnant women up for longer. Some examples include multi-grain breads, high fiber cereals and sandwich thins.
Dairy products contain several of the essential nutrients considered important for a healthy pregnancy, including calcium and protein. Now more than ever, low fat versions of dairy products are available that pack the same punch as their higher fat counterparts. The College of William and Mary suggests pregnant women eat cottage cheese and low-fat yogurts, or drink skim milk. Pregnant women can even combine products, adding skim milk to fortified cereals or eating cottage cheese with pineapple, for a low-fat nutrient rich snack.
Meat and Eggs
While lower on ACOG’s pregnancy food pyramid, meat and eggs are also good sources of pregnancy nutrients. Both contain high amounts of protein and meat proves rich with iron. However, this does not mean pregnant women should have steak and eggs every day. Stick to leaner meats, including poultry and fish. To avoid adding extra calories by frying with oil, eggs can be boiled and eaten as a snack.
Beans and Tofu
Pregnant vegetarians can have their protein and eat it too.The Institute of Medicine advises pregnant women get at least 71 grams of protein daily, which may seem like a challenge for someone who does not eat meat. However, beans and tofu are great sources of this vital protein. Beans and tofu can be mixed with vegetables for a powerful and completely vegetarian, pregnancy food.
Yes, fats are part of the pregnancy food pyramid as well; they are simply at the bottom. Keep fats healthy by limiting oil when cooking, or sticking to heart-healthy cooking products such as olive or coconut oils. Other fats are ok as well, as long as they are eaten in moderation.