Eating for Two? How this phrase can lead to a healthy pregnancy

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While this good-natured phrase is true in some ways (women in their third and fourth trimester do need about 15% more calories than their non-pregnant peers, which is only about 300 calories a day), eating too much too often can be harmful to you and the baby, leading to problems like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and pre-term or too large babies.

That doesn’t mean “eating for two” should be a phrase you completely ignore. Instead, consider it a reminder that your choices affect the future of TWO people.

Eat right when you’re hungry. When you’re starving, consider “eating for two” your call to make healthy choices. Load up on nutrient-rich, low-calorie whole foods, especially those high in protein such lean meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and dairy. Of course, fruits and veggies make great snacks, and can help satisfy your sweet tooth or urge for something crunchy.

Get the important vitamins and minerals for a healthy baby. If you’re not sure what to eat, consider the key building blocks for a healthy baby, including calcium, fiber, folate, iron, protein, DHA and iodine. Here’s where to get them:

  • Calcium: dairy, dark leafy greens, and calcium fortified foods.
  • Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
  • Folate: Beans, broccoli, asparagus, oranges, fortified breads and cereals, and prenatal vitamins.
  • Iron: Bean, meat, oatmeal, and tofu. Boost absorption by combining with foods high in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, and dark leafy greens.
  • Protein: Lean meats, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, and dairy products.
  • DHA: Low-mercury fish, flaxseed, and DHA supplements.
  • Iodine: Seaweed, shellfish, fish, milk, potatoes, eggs, turkey, and navy beans.

Start modeling a healthy, varied diet now. Nausea and heartburn can easily lead you to choose the same safe foods over and over, or worse, no food at all. But research shows your eating habits during pregnancy can affect your newborn’s taste preferences later. Don’t want a picky eater? Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins throughout the day, and sample a variety of cuisines and spices as often as your heartburn allows. Sit back and cross your fingers that your choices will help your baby grow into a more healthy and adventurous eater later!

RELATED: Making Nutrition Work During Pregnancy

Make other healthy choices for two. When you only had to worry about yourself, it was probably harder to find the motivation to quit smoking, quit drinking, take your vitamins, or wear a seatbelt. But now that you’ve got TWO lives on board, let the “eating for two” phrase help motivate you to end the bad habits and ensure you’re keeping the good ones: take a daily prenatal vitamin, drink your water, get exercise, and always wear your seatbelt.

Have more questions on nutrition during pregnancy? Stop by our Intermountain Moms Facebook page and ask Nurse Dani!