Pregnancy is a complicated time. Your entire life can feel like it gets turned around, and navigating this new world can be stressful! I’m currently in my second pregnancy, the first of which I miscarried at 9 weeks (which is actually very common). And this time around, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t second-guess so many of the habits I had during my first pregnancy.
With new focus and dedication to my health, I dove headfirst into learning about fitness and prenatal nutrition. I learned about the movement that would best serve my body and the foods that would be most nourishing for my body and for baby. Once I read Real Food For Pregnancy by Dr. Lily Nichols, my perspective on nourishment completely changed.
Here are 3 healthy foods you probably didn’t know to eat when pregnant, and why
Choline is a vital nutrient during pregnancy, and few prenatal vitamins include it. This nutrient is responsible for baby’s brain and spine development. Eggs happen to be a wonderful source of choline, as well as a great source of fat and a good source of protein (6g per egg). Choline is most available in the egg yolk, so don’t separate the yolks from the whites for your morning omellette.
An important note about eggs: the chickens’ diet is important to take into account when buying eggs. Look for pasture-raised or free-range eggs to ensure best quality nutrients. If this isn’t feasible, buying regular eggs in the grocery store will still provide you with these nutrients.
Animal proteins like beef and pork provide essential amino acids that act as the building blocks of muscle. The proteins are also rich in nutrients like iron, choline, and B vitamins. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases (because you’re sending more of it to the placenta), so your body needs more iron. Low levels of iron during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of low birth weight and other issues.
In addition to beef and pork, poultry and wild-caught fish are also great sources of protein; however, fish will not have as high a content of iron and B vitamins (but it makes up for it with other nutrients!).
Fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables is an integral part of a healthy pregnancy for a few different reasons. It can help support healthy blood sugar regulation, which in turn helps reduce overall stress on the body. Pregnancy is a big stressor on the body, so reducing stress in any way possible is important.
Sources of fiber include berries, avocado, chia seeds, cruciferous veggies (kale and broccoli), and grains (oats and quinoa). Each of these is also packed with other essential nutrients. This is why whole food sources of fiber are beneficial over a fiber supplement.