I want to make it clear that I am not married nor an impregnated female, or any female at that. But being educated about pregnancy is not just a responsibility for the mother, but for everyone else, too. As we are all human beings, we should empower ourselves to empower others, and therefore positively influence human development. Now, I won’t turn this into a to a boring fetal development lecture, but rather an easy-to-understand and share list of general nutritional guidelines for pregnant mothers to follow, as well as to be educated about by others (this does not replace a program outlined by a Nutritionist or Dietician, these guidelines are GENERAL).
First, what to AVOID:
-Too much fish intake due to potential metal toxicity
-Anything that could carry harmful bacteria (uncooked seafood or meats, eggs, and some deli meats)
-Alcohol, tobacco, and excessive caffeine (this INCLUDES limiting artificial sweeteners)
-Junk food and highly processed ingredients (things you shouldn’t be eating anyway)
Many individuals will use pregnancy cravings as an excuse to engage in consumption in some of these foods, but the pregnant individual and those around her must remember that a healthy baby comes first before superficial dietary desires.
Macronutrients: Total caloric intake should be increased to 300-500 calories/day.
-Protein: It’s best to increase intake (during 2nd and 3rd trimesters) by a minimum a 25 grams of protein through whole food intake (best) or natural protein powder supplementation. This is essential for the growth of tissues and structures in the fetus.
-Fatty Acids: Assuming fish intake is lowered, ask a dietician for a suggested Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Natural sources include flax and hemp, algae (check out spirulina for an added protein bonus), walnuts, and leafy greens.
Micronutrients: Add these to your diet through whole foods (always a better option) or supplementation.
-B12: Many sources come from the sea (trout, salmon, clams, crab, and tuna) so limit intake or get high quality sources/take supplementation. Also found in beef, yogurt, and fermented foods (not beer).
-Folate: ESSENTIAL!!! Leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, beets, cauliflower, lettuce, and asparagus. Supplements for folic acid are common and often necessary.
-Vitamin D: Sun (20-30 min X 2-3 days/week). Foods rich in Vit. D include egg yolks or fish, so make sure they are cooked thoroughly, intake is limited, or a supplement is taken.
-Calcium: Helps improve immunity and prevent pre-eclampsia. Leafy greens, bok choy, tofu, legumes, figs, seeds and nuts such as almonds.
-Iron: Legumes, dark green veggies, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Molasses contains some iron if you want to use it as a sweetener.
-Zinc: Legumes, nuts, seeds, peas, chickpeas, yogurt, whole grains, cereals, and some animal products.