Itâ€™s no surprise itâ€™s important to eat right, but good nutrition is especially important for women looking to conceive and during pregnancy. Nutrient needs change to make way for baby, and mom needs to alter her diet to help her baby grow healthy from day 1. From folic acid and fiber to prenatal vitamins, what are the best nutritional choices you can make when you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant?
Foods high in fiber
Keep your body moving with high fiber foods including beans, whole-grain breads, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and high fiber cereals. The USDA recommends pregnant women eat 6-11 servings of grains and 4+ servings of vegetables a day.
Dairy (or non-dairy alternatives)
Drink your calcium! Whether you choose cowâ€™s milk or non-dairy drinks like rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk, make sure you drink at least four servings a day so that you reach the necessary 1000-1300 mg of calcium that your body needs during this time. Yogurt and cheese are other excellent sources of calcium, but be aware that some yogurt is loaded with sugar.
Enjoy iron rich foods that are also high in protein including meat, poultry, seafood and eggs, but make sure they are fully cooked or pasteurized (see Foods to Avoid, below). You should be getting 27 mg of iron each day. Take your iron with vitamin C rich foods to ensure good absorption.
Foods high in vitamin C and vitamin A
Did you know that a green pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? To get the daily recommended 70 mg of vitamin C, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Orange vegetables and green vegetables will help you meet your vitamin A requirements.
Many cereals are fortified with folic acid, but you can find it naturally in beans and dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. It is vital to start taking folic acid before you conceive to decrease the risk of birth defects.
Even if you do eat a healthy diet, the USDA and doctors recommend taking a prenatal multivitamin every day. A prenatal vitamin like Rainbow Lightâ€™s Prenatal Oneâ„¢ Multivitamin or Complete Prenatal Systemâ„¢ Multivitamin provides the extra folic acid, iron and other nutrients that support the important nutritional needs that your growing baby requires.
Tips on Eating for You â€“ And for Two
By Marci Clow, MS, RDN of Rainbow Light