EXPERT NUTRITIONIST AMY SHAPIRO BREAKS DOWN WHAT PREGNANT MOMS SHOULD EAT
By Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
Pregnant women always say, “I’m eating for two!” but is that really the case? Hate to disappoint, but…nope! To have a healthy pregnancy, it’s best not to give yourself an excuse to overindulge, but rather eat until you’re content or in some cases, what you can tolerate.
It’s recommended that a woman who is of average weight before pregnancy gain about 25-35 pounds while pregnant. Sure, you might find that you have cravings at times (or all the time), but that doesn’t mean you should have the whole tub of ice cream, 3 bagels or all 12 of the cookies (don’t shoot the messenger!) Yes, indulge and dig in, but remember to limit portion sizes to keep excess and empty calories in check and fill up on nutrients you NEED not just those you WANT.
If you’re carrying a single baby, you need about 340 extra calories per day in the second trimester and about 450 extra calories per day in the third. So where should these calories come from and how do these numbers translate into meals? I generally recommend enjoying mostly organic, whole foods that range in colors (eat the rainbow!) and provide the nutrients you and your baby need. And although refined carbohydrates and added sugars might be calling your name ALL DAMN DAY, try to limit them and consider them treats, not meals. Below I’ve laid out some guidelines of foods to include and how often to have them. Dig in knowing I’ve been there and have got your back!
VEGETABLES: 3-5 servings of dark, leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day gives mom and baby fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and vitamins C, K, and A. Not to mention, vegetables help boost the immune system and improve regularity.
FRUIT: 3-4 servings per day of whole fruits. Try to avoid fruit juice…we don’t need the added sugar!
DAIRY: 1-3 servings per day of dairy can be beneficial while pregnant. Try to stick to low sugar options like unsweetened Greek yogurt, which provides probiotics that are good for the digestive tract and the fetus.
LEAN MEATS: protein provides B vitamins and iron that you need during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. Not feeling meat? Eggs, beans and legumes provide these nutrients too!
GOOD FATS: Omega 3 fatty acids can come from salmon, walnuts, flax, and chia seeds. Certain essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body, so it’s necessary to get them from the diet to ensure the baby stays healthy throughout the pregnancy!
WHOLE GRAINS: 3 servings per day will help mom stay energized and ready to take on everyday tasks. Since folate is so important for pregnant women, getting whole grain breads or cereals that are fortified with folic acid will help meet your needs. Whole grains, oats, and quinoa are full of fiber, B-vitamins, and magnesium, all essential for a healthy pregnancy.
NUTS & LEGUMES: both of these help keep you fuller longer and are great sources of zinc. Pro tip: ¼ cup of any nut = 1 serving.
WATER: it’s so important to stay well hydrated while pregnant. Always remember to drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of H20 per day!
Also, just a gentle reminder to keep taking that pre-natal vitamin which will help ensure you are getting what you absolutely need even if your diet isn’t perfect. Gotta love that buffer!
Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and director of Real Nutrition, a NYC-based private practice dedicated to healthfully and successfully guiding clients to their optimal nutrition, weight, and overall wellness. She is internationally recognized for her individualized, lifestyle-focused approach, which integrates realistic food plans, smart eating habits, and active living. Through encouragement, education, and the right “tricks of the trade,” Amy believes that anyone can achieve their nutritional goals while still enjoying the foods and flavors they crave. Amy lives with her husband and three boys in New York City.