When you’ve got a (whole-grain) bun in the oven, suddenly everyone’s an expert on what you should and shouldn’t eat, drink, or lift.
That can lead to an onslaught of confusing, conflicting advice—and stress, by the way, is the last thing you need when you’re pregnant.
What do you really need to know? Here, Keri (an actual, top-tier expert!) shares her RD advice on how to stay healthy and happy throughout your pregnancy while also ensuring your little one will be healthy upon arrival.
9 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
1. Maintain a Healthy Diet.
No ditching the salads for sticky buns. Eat healthier NOT less healthy. I always tell clients that eating healthy during pregnancy is one of the best times to get rid of that “on” or “off” a diet mentality.
Here’s why: you’re not going to be at your thinnest, fittest self, nor should you be. Accept it and learn to truly eat for health—this time, yours and your baby’s—not for what you look like. Staying in your best prego shape will be a bonus.
So, if you indulge that craving for a chocolate chip cookie, move on and add some greens to your next meal. Stick to whole, real foods like fresh organic produce, lean organic meats, healthy fats, and whole grains. These foods are lower in sodium and artificial junk, and higher in fiber and nutrients than all processed foods.
Prego or not, eating three meals and a couple of snacks each day stabilizes blood sugar and consistently fuels you with energy.
2. Go for the Real Stuff.
If you must indulge, make it the real deal. Artificial sweeteners are calorie-free chemicals that interrupt your endocrine system and mess with your taste buds and hunger cues. Avoid them. Especially when trying to have a healthy pregnancy.
3. Eat Breakfast.
New parents quickly learn that hungry children are unhappy and capable of making everyone around them miserable. You know what? That’s not only true for lil’ nuggets, it’s true for all of us.
Starting each day with a nutrition-packed breakfast will lay the foundation for a day of good eating, help you make better food choices, maintain your energy levels and train you to practice what you’ll soon be teaching and preaching. Anyone has time for a slice of Ezekial toast and cashew butter or a hard boiled egg and a bowl of berries. Get to it.
4. Snack Smart.
The key to a great satisfying snack that will hold you over until your next meal is getting the right balance of high quality carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. Here are some of my fave on-the-move options I recommend for a healthy pregnancy:
- Mixed nuts. Make your own trail mix with raw nuts and dried fruit (no added sugar, of course). Add a sweet fix with dark chocolate chips.
- Nut butters. Justin’s single-serve nut butters are an easy go-to. Pack one of these with a piece of fruit, and you’re all set. They even come in holy-yum flavors such as chocolate hazelnut butter and maple almond butter.
- Raw Crunch Bars. Unprocessed, raw, and organic energy. Easy for eating on the road. You’ll love Blueberry Lemon, Cranberry Orange, and Mango Coconut. And hello, did I mention Dark Chocolate Cherry? Um…Yes please!!!
- Chickpeas. The Good Bean Dried Chickpeas offer protein with a crunch…What more could you ask for? In both sweet and savory flavors, they have all of your cravings covered.
- Salmon. Vital Choice Pacific Wild Salmon Jerky Strips are great for a more hearty, meal-like take-along option. They are full of EPA and DHA (healthy fats), which mom-to-be needs for her pregnant glow and babe (or multiple babes!) need to form a healthy brain.
5. Don’t Eat for Two.
You need to eat a diet rich in nutrients like calcium and iron, but that doesn’t mean you need a pint of ice cream after every meal. You may need an extra snack every day, but go for nutrient-dense, high-quality bites. You’re building organs, an immune system, and maybe even dimples in your core.
Nuts, whole grains ,and veggies are better suited for this job than donuts. Note: you need approximately an extra 300 calories, not 3,000 daily.
6. Be Active.
As long as your doctor gives you the okay, you should exercise regularly. Research tells us that prego exercise benefits mom’s mental health as well as her body, and babe in utero gets benefits, too, one being a healthier heart. If you were looking for an excuse to get cozy with your couch, think again.
7. DO Eat Fish.
Fish and shellfish are a great source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of the growing fetus’ brain. And while there are some fish that you should avoid due to high mercury levels, others can be consumed as part of a healthy pregnancy.
Low-mercury fish include shrimp, salmon, and chunk light tuna. Enjoy two to three (four- to six-ounce) servings per week and fuel your baby’s brain power! If you’re not a fan of fish, be sure to get your dose of omega-3s with chia seeds, flax seeds, and nuts.
8. Get Your Folate.
If you’re even thinking about getting pregnant, make sure you’re eating your folate. This B vitamin is absolutely essential to any pregnancy and is particularly important during the first two to three weeks of pregnancy (when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant), when it’s needed to develop the nervous system. Pregnant women need to consume 600 micrograms per day. Find folate in lentils, spinach, romaine lettuce and asparagus.
9. Stay Hydrated.
It is more important than ever to get enough fluids. Aim for at least eight cups of water throughout the day. You might need more if you’re exercising. And remember, of course, to avoid alcoholic beverages.