They Are What You Eat: A Guide to Nutrition and Pregnancy

nutrition and pregnancy

Eating healthy during your pregnancy is hard, but staying on top of perinatal nutrition will help more than just your future waistline. It could improve your child’s behavior.

It seems that once the congratulations have been well received, the only advice an expectant mother gets is the “what not to do’s” and the real “what to expect”.  Horror stories about swollen ankles, phantom body pains, and really weird food cravings abound.

As a pregnant and soon to be mother, few things are less overwhelming than feeling like you’re doing something wrong. We all want to be the best moms possible, and give our children the head start they need to succeed in life. We all know to steer clear of raw meats, soft cheeses, and the ever delicious over easy egg- but what about the foods we are supposed to eat, and how the heck do you handle those cravings?

Nutrition and Pregnancy: What Harm Could it Do?

While there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a bag of chips or a bowl of ice cream now and again, more and more research is starting to support the idea that an unhealthy diet could cause more problems than just obesity. Like exacerbating feelings of depression, or taking a big toll on your physical health.

Physical Health

Mother

Overeating, eating unhealthy foods, or indulging in regular unhealthy behaviors can negatively affect a person’s weight, whether or not you’re pregnant. But indulging in these habits while carrying your child can put both yourself, and your unborn in legitimate danger. Engaging in poor diet habits regularly can heighten the risk of many pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and postpartum hemorrhage.

Child

Should a growing body not get enough of the vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are found in a diet high in them, it could spell disaster for the physical health of the child postnatally. Resulting in a number of different birth defects, obesity later in life, and even mold your child’s taste preferences throughout its life. Meaning that moms who eat junk may end up with children who don’t eat broccoli.

Emotional Health

Mother

Who doesn’t stress eat? Who isn’t stressed during pregnancy? Of course, the two go hand in hand, but finding alternative outlets for relief may be the answer to finding better mental health during maternity. Eating diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, and whole cereals can serve to improve mood, focus, and energy- making you all-around a bit sunnier.

Child

Recent studies have indicated that eating a poor diet during pregnancy can actually inhibit the mental health of your child, as well as physical health. Making it more difficult for children to regulate their emotions, and more likely for them to express aggressive or hyperactive behaviors. Which means that eating a diet high in processed meat products, refined cereals and sugars, and salty snack could correlate to continued mental health struggles into the future.

 

Nutrition and Pregnancy: So What Should You Eat?

While this isn’t a full-on food diary, make sure that whatever it is you’re eating is filled with essential vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need. Some evidence may suggest that starting a healthy diet early could help with conception rates or IVF success. Making huge life transitions, like changing eating habits during pregnancy can be incredibly stressful, so try and adjust your eating habits early- this way you’re already aware of what healthy foods suit you best.

Sad as it may sound, most of the foods that we crave are sorely lacking in the essential vitamins and minerals that we need. Folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, C, and B12 are all important bits that can be found in a number of different fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy dishes.

Vegans and vegetarians pregnancy can also look forward to healthy pregnancy diets as most cereals and dairy substitutes are fortified with the vitamins and minerals that may be difficult to come by outside of animal products.

While it’s important to eat healthily, it’s also still important to take any supplements or vitamins that are recommended to you by your doctor. These supplements ensure that both you and your baby get all of the essential nutrients you need throughout your pregnancy journey.

 

Nutrition and Pregnancy: How to Curb Unhealthy Cravings

With the nasty bit out of the way, we’d now like to focus on the nicer side of things. Creating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be overly restrictive or based on fear. It’s easy to feel a bit harshly judged as a pregnant mom, but with the right information, we hope to set you up to do your best- not tear you down during the times you just can’t meet the mark.

Finding alternatives to your favorite junk food isn’t all that hard, and introducing small changes to your diet can actually have a big effect. This doesn’t mean that you can treat yourself once in a while, but make sure to try and sneak in a few moments of healthy food while your cravings aren’t looking.

 

  • Icecream
    • Frozen yogurt
  • French fries
    • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Pastries
    • Whole grain toast with cinnamon and raisins, or a bit of jam.
  • Cake
    • Zucchini brownies or banana bread
  • Potato chips
    • Popcorn

 

These substitutes aren’t just great for pregnancy but are a wonderful addition to your regular diet. Here are some simple steps to help you get in front of cravings before they happen.

  • Eat a good breakfast

Start your day out right with a balanced breakfast. This will get your stomach feeling full and provide you with energy to get through the morning.

  • Have snacks at the ready

If you plan ahead and keep healthy snacks with you, you’ll be less likely to spring for junk food when those urges arise.

  • Phone a friend

Have your emotional support system on speed dial. Chatting with friends and family can help keep your mind, and your mouth, occupied. It will also make cravings seem less overwhelming when you have someone to talk with about them.

  • Exercise

While we’re not saying to hit the gym, just a small walk once or twice a day can help keep your mind off your stomach and on your body. Helping you to regulate your blood sugars and your eating habits.

 

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