When “eating for two”, many people accept pregnancy as a pass to eat whatever the pregnant person wants. The additional calories needed to support the growth of an organ (placenta) and a tiny human being often come in the form of special treats, such as desserts and high-sugar beverages. Occasional treats are okay! it is normal and healthy to indulge in a bowl of ice cream once in a while.
In actuality, eating for two means a slight increase in calories, while necessitating a large improvement in the quality of food you are eating. Eating for two means being twice as careful about what you eat (not eating twice as much food).
Your body requires much higher amounts nutrients for proper development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord, heart and lungs, bones and muscles. She (your baby) will take nutrients away from you for her own development, which can leave you struggling with low energy, morning sickness, brain fog, irritability, or muscle cramps. For the biggest improvement in the quality of your diet while pregnant, compare your current diet to the following top three changes you should focus on making:
1. EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
Our culture is super anti-fat! I am here to tell you to not be afraid of foods that contain natural fats and to increase the amount of HEALTHY FAT in your diet. A small amount of healthy fat at every meal and at snacks throughout the day will provide necessary nutrients for every cell of your baby’s body, especially her brain, eyes, and nervous system. Healthy fat is necessary for absorption of some nutrients (i.e. Vitamin A and D) and for keeping your hormones balanced.
BEST HEALTHY FATS
1. Fish: Anchovies, Sardines, Wild Salmon and Trout
4. Nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, and brazil nuts)
5. Seeds (sunflower, flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin)
6. Cooking oils-Olive, Coconut, Avocado, and Sesame
7. Eggs (the yolk contains the fat)
2. CONSUME COLORFUL CARBOHYDRATES
You absolutely need carbohydrates as a source of energy in your diet. However, if the
carbs in your diet mostly come from bread, granola bars, crackers, and cereal, then it is time to
get creative in the kitchen! Better carbs do not just come from whole grains; they come from
veggies, fruits, and beans, too! Better carbs will provide more fiber, protein, vitamins and
minerals and may be lower on the Glycemic Index/Glycemic Load, which can help to stabilize
1. Non Starchy Vegetables (Carrots, greens, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, etc.)
2. Whole fruits (berries, oranges, pears, peaches, dates,etc.)
3. Starchy Vegetables/legumes (winter squash, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, etc.)
5. Whole Grains (Quinoa, Farro, Freekah, etc.)
3. START YOUR DAY WITH A GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN
During the first trimester of my second pregnancy, the scent of grilled meat made me
nauseous! Luckily, protein needs don’t increase much until the second trimester, so don’t worry
if you have an aversion to meat or other protein-packed foods in those first 14 weeks.
Research has shown that starting your day with a good source of protein may help: 1)Decrease
cravings-related brain activity and increase healthy food choices throughout the day, 2) Maintain
stable blood sugars and avoid the mid-morning energy “crash”, and 3) Regulate a hormone
called “cortisol” and improve your quality of sleep at night! Eating protein for your first meal of
the day can also help to ensure that you are meeting your increased protein needs in
pregnancy. Be sure to include a healthy fat and colorful carb to balance out your breakfast.
BEST BREAKFAST PROTEINS
1. Eggs (especially from hens allowed to graze outside of a coop)
2. Nut butter
3. Last night’s dinner protein
4. Dairy: Full fat greek yogurt (plain, add fruit to sweeten) or
Stay tuned next week for some realistic tips on HOW to make these important changes in your
Sarah Rawitzer is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Prenatal Health Coach, Certified Doula (DONA) and works at Minnesota Birth Center.