What to Enjoy (and What to Avoid) for a Healthy Pregnancy

It’s true what they say: you are eating for two now. While your body is creating a whole new person, you need to make sure that you are getting the essential nutrients to keep you healthy and provide the building blocks that your developing baby needs.

Get your calcium

For example, did you know that most women don’t get enough calcium to build and maintain their own healthy bones? While pregnant, the calcium needs of the growing baby can further deplete your supply of this essential nutrient.

You can increase the amount of calcium you’re receiving for both you and the baby by making sure your diet includes plenty of the right foods such as low-fat dairy products, dark green veggies such as broccoli, spinach, and kale, or even raw almonds, soya beans, and tofu.

Health Canada suggests that you enjoy milk and milk alternatives every day for strong bones. Low-fat dairy products will give you the high-quality protein, calcium and vitamin D that you need, but fortified soy beverages can also be a healthy option if you do not consume dairy products.

Enjoy fruits and veggies daily

While that is sound advice for everyone, pregnant women especially need their fruits and vegetables every day. Get colourful! It is the brightly coloured vegetables and fruit that contain the most vitamins that you and your baby need. Try to eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetables each day.

Iron is essential

Pregnant women need to ensure that they are getting enough iron in their daily diets both for their own health as well as for that of their growing babies. Eating meat and alternatives every day will help you and your baby stay healthy. Opt for lean meats or meat alternatives such as dried peas, beans, tofu and lentils.

Health Canada suggests you avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood. This can include hot dogs, some deli-meats such as bologna, roast beef, ham and turkey breast, refrigerated pâtés, meat spreads and refrigerated smoked seafood.

Speaking of seafood, fish is also important and should be eaten each week. However, choosing which fish to eat, and how much, can be complicated. Raw or undercooked fish and shellfish such as sushi, raw oysters, clams and mussels should all be avoided. You should also choose fish that are low in mercury. 

Another way to increase the iron in your diet is by eating dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, as well as cashews, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Folic acid is a must

On the subject of spinach, it is also an excellent source of folic acid. This nutrient is essential to the formation of your baby’s brain, skull and spine – which begin taking shape during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It is highly recommended that you eat a diet rich in folic acid and even take a multivitamin containing this B vitamin every day. Talk to your healthcare provider about which nutritional supplements are right for you.

Foods that are rich in folic acid (or folate) include dark green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, peas, and Brussels sprouts), corn, dried peas, beans, lentils, and oranges. Grain products that are fortified with folic acid such as bread and pasta can also provide significant amounts of the vitamin.

Enjoy snacking

You are going to be hungry, so be sure to eat three healthy meals a day. It is also a good idea to eat healthy snacks in between meals while you are pregnant so that you can meet your daily nutritional needs.

Just try to avoid unhealthy snack foods that are high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates but that offer little nutritional value.

Stay active – but don’t overdo it

Getting regular exercise while you are pregnant will help prevent excessive weight-gain, boost your mood, and keep your energy-levels up. It can also help prevent pregnancy-related health issues such as back pain and swollen joints.

Great options for keeping active include low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates. On the flip side, you should avoid riskier activities like contact sports, downhill skiing, and horseback riding.

As with everything during your pregnancy, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider for the specific health, nutritional, and fitness information that is right for your unique situation.

Peter Harris

Peter Harris is a marketing, branding, and careers expert. He began his career as a travel writer and advertising copy writer, and went on to build the original Canadian content for Monster.ca, serve as the editor-in-chief of Workopolis, and deliver the country its daily news and features as the homepage editor of Yahoo! Canada. He writes and speaks frequently on career, workplace, education, and technology issues as well as on trends and changes in the Canadian job market. He is the co-founder of Yackler, a content marketing start-up, and the father of a challenging, funny, elementary school-aged son.

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