I recently talked about balance on my Instagram, and I thought it was a really good time to talk about balance in pregnancy too.
If you saw my recent blog on pregnancy cravings, you might have had some questions about what you should eat, and what are the best foods to eat while pregnant. I wanted to approach this in a way that makes eating and being healthy as accessible as possible for everyone.
To help you out, I’ve put together a list of great foods to eat while pregnant! Many of these you might already be including in your diet, while there are some others that might come as a surprise!
What are the best foods to eat while pregnant?
You want to give your baby the best start in life, and that means supporting their growth by choosing the best foods.
For some women, pregnancy can bring morning sickness (for many, this can last all day, for days at a time!), which can make it hard to ensure you are nourishing your body. It can be really hard to know if you are getting everything that you need, nutritionally!
Remember, a healthy diet is important during every stage of life, so these foods are important even if you are not currently pregnant. Following a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you are getting everything you need. This can be done by incorporating these foods into your diet:
• Wholegrain breads and cereals
• Vegetables and legumes
• Milk, yoghurt and cheese
• Meat, poultry, fish and alternatives
• Healthy fats (such as olive oil and avocado)
• Water (at least 6-8 glasses per day).
Creating healthy meals and snacks out of these foods can help ensure you are getting the essential nutrients you need during pregnancy.
15 Best foods to eat while pregnant
The list of food below can help you to get everything needed nutritionally. For any mothers-to-be, these foods can help to support the health and development of your baby.
As well as being a great on-the-go snack, bananas are also packed with potassium. If you are prone to leg cramps, potassium can help to relieve these — so including banana in your diet is a great way to help.
Bananas are also easily digestible, so they can help to replace nutrients when you are dealing with morning sickness. Try eating them as a snack or making a yummy banana chia pudding to get some extra nutritional benefits.
2. Dairy products
To help support healthy brain, bone and muscle growth for the baby, you may need to consume extra protein and calcium. Dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium, however, you can also get it from chia seeds, calcium-fortified soy products or leafy green vegetables.
Adding dairy foods to your diet also ensures you are consuming phosphorus, magnesium and zinc — all of which contribute to bone health, cell development and energy production!
Beans and lentils are not only a fantastic meat-free source of protein, but they are also high in fibre. During pregnancy, some women may find they need additional fibre, so legumes are one of the best foods to eat while pregnant!
While I love stuffed tomatoes with quinoa and lentils, you can also try adding beans to soups, salads or rice dishes. This way, you’ll also increase your intake of folate, iron, potassium and magnesium. Folate is particularly important for anyone who is trying to conceive or is already pregnant as it helps with healthy development and can minimise the risk of neural tube defects.
4. Leafy greens
Leafy greens are great foods to eat while pregnant or any other time as well! Greens such as spinach, chard and kale provide your body with calcium, as well as folate.
Eating plenty of greens can also provide your body with fibre, which is important for good digestive health!
5. Sweet potato
Sweet potato (also known as kumara) is high in fibre and easy on the stomach, so it can be a great food to eat while pregnant — especially if you are struggling with morning sickness.
Sweet potato is also a good source of vitamin C, so it is a great immune-boosting food as well.
Delicious in salads or steamed alongside other vegetables, broccoli is packed with nutrients!
During pregnancy, your body can benefit from the calcium, folate and fibre found in broccoli. You also may not know that broccoli contains vitamin C — eating foods that contain this vitamin also helps your body to absorb iron from the food you eat. During pregnancy, your iron intake is important because it helps contribute to your energy levels.
As I’ve mentioned above, protein is important for muscle development. Eggs are on the list of good foods to eat while pregnant because your body uses protein to develop and repair cells and tissue. During pregnancy, you need more protein to help ensure healthy growth for your baby too.
Eggs contain a range of vitamins and minerals, including choline. Found in egg yolk, choline helps to support the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Try adding hard-boiled eggs to salads to help enjoy their nutritional benefits. Be mindful that eggs need to be FULLY cooked, as raw or partially cooked eggs have a high risk of carrying salmonella.
Salmon is a fantastic source of omega 3 fatty acids, which assists with the development of the brain and nervous system of the baby. It is also a low mercury option, so it can be safe to eat once it has been well grilled.
My Nicoise salad with grilled salmon recipe can help you double up on some of the best foods to eat while pregnant — salmon and eggs!
Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which support brain development in your baby. They are also a good source of protein and fibre, so they can make a great quick, healthy snack.
If you’re not a fan of walnuts, you can also reach for other beneficial nuts, such as Brazil nuts, pecans or almonds.
Made from sesame seeds, tahini contains essential omega 6 fatty acids, which are important for a healthy functioning immune and nervous system. Tahini also provides your body with thiamin, phosphorus, copper and manganese — all of which are important for healthy growth for your baby.
11. Lean Meat
Adding some lean meat to your meals can help to meet your energy needs! A source of iron and protein, try adding lean meat such as beef, pork or chicken to your meals.
To get the most benefit from these foods, make sure you are getting some vitamin C to aid in the absorption of iron too.
Whether you add them to a smoothie or eat them as a snack, berries are a great way to get some extra vitamin C during pregnancy. Vitamin C is important for forming collagen, which is needed for healthy tissue.
I love strawberries and blueberries, but you could also enjoy raspberries, blackberries or goji berries — whatever is in season and readily available.
Berries also have high water content and contain fibre and antioxidants, so they are always a good option! Try my quinoa and mixed berry smoothie for a fibre-packed breakfast that will help to keep you full.
13. Whole grains
Eating whole grains helps to provide your body with zinc, which is necessary for the rapid cell growth during pregnancy. Whole grains, such as brown rice or oats, are a source of iron, which your body needs more of during pregnancy. You’ll also get B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium by adding whole grains to your meals — especially something like my super green rice salad.
Whole grains and other high-fibre foods are important to eat anytime but during pregnancy, some women experience constipation. Fibre and lots of water can help to prevent this.
When you think of protein, you may not think of herbs! So, it might surprise you to know that basil is a good source of protein — as well as fibre, folate, calcium and a range of vitamins.
Basil can be easily added to salads and sandwiches, as well as being made into pesto, perfect for topping pasta, zucchini noodles or on tacos.
Even though I personally couldn’t eat avocado during the early stages of my pregnancy, it is one of the best foods to eat while pregnant. I LOVE avocado, so lucky for me there are so many great avocado alternatives to choose from if you can’t eat them either.
Avocado is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats), which helps with the baby’s brain, tissue and skin development. In addition to this, avocado also provides your body with fibre, potassium and B vitamins. There are lots of ways to use avocado — it is great on some toast if you are feeling a bit nauseated.
Those are some of the best foods to eat during pregnancy
While this list of food can be beneficial during pregnancy, this is a guide only. Remember that every person and every pregnancy is different, so your healthcare professional will be able to advise whether you have additional nutritional needs.
As you have probably noticed, many of these foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Eating vitamin rich foods is one of the best ways to ensure both you and your baby are in the best possible health — I hope this list has been helpful!
*Please check with your doctor or healthcare professional for further advice about foods to eat during pregnancy, as advice can vary depending on individual circumstances or where you live, and official guidelines in your country may also change from time to time.
15 Best Foods To Eat While Pregnant – Kayla Itsines is written by Louise Tilley for www.kaylaitsines.com