The idea of a tiny human being growing inside mom can be a little daunting, but, of course, super exciting! Everyone asks the same questions: Can and should mom still exercise? What changes does she go through? And, most importantly, what can, and should, mom eat? We're here to answer the latter and not only do we know what moms should be eating, but we also know what will help her throughout each trimester as well as overall. Eating for two doesn't have to be nerve-wracking and scary, and moms might be surprised to know that some things are better for her than others.
Each of these foods will help both mom and the growing baby, whether it's through the essential vitamins and minerals moms need or just helping the natural process of digestion. For the most part, mom's diet won't need to drastically change throughout her pregnancy. However, it's a good idea to incorporate some of these food items on a weekly basis just to ensure that both mom and baby remain at the peak of health throughout the next nine months. The great thing about these foods is that they can be incorporated easily and creatively into mom's everyday diet! I say it's never too early to start a healthy lifestyle.
20 First Trimester: Legumes
When you're in your first trimester of pregnancy, it's always a good idea to start off with a healthy bang. Throughout the next few months, you'll need to steadily increase your calorie count (since you are eating for two!) to provide enough nutrition for you and your baby. Legumes are a wonderful way of getting some valued nutrients during pregnancy, including iron, fiber, protein, and most importantly, folate. As a B-vitamin, folate serves a crucial role in pregnancy and is something many women often lack in their diets. It can easily be supplemented by introducing more chickpeas, lentils, most types of beans, or even peanuts, into your diet. Plus, this will give you a great excuse to try out some new Mediterranean recipes or even bake some black bean brownies!
19 First Trimester: Green Leafy Veggies
We all know that green leafy vegetables are an amazing source of fiber and iron, but they also play an incredible role during pregnancy. They're pretty much the elite when it comes to pregnancy food and contains more vitamins and minerals than many fruits or veggies have in one serving. Just one meal with leafy greens contains fiber, Vitamins C, K, and A, folate, potassium, iron, and calcium. I wasn't joking when I said superfood, dark leafy greens are like the multivitamins of the plant world! The extra-added bonus is these veggies can also help ease constipation, a common pregnancy discomfort. Spinach and kale are the most popular and effective way to get these nutrients and are easy enough to incorporate into smoothies, side dishes, and casseroles or gratins if you're not crazy about using them in salads.
18 First Trimester: Omega-3-Rich Fish And Seeds
Omega-3 is a nutrient that many women often get iffy about, because the biggest source of it comes from seafood -- Which should be limited during pregnancy, for the most part. However, just because your fish intake should be limited, doesn't mean you can't eat any fish at all...It just comes down to eating the right proteins that have high amounts of Omega-3. Any fatty fish will do, but the biggest one is salmon. Even if you only eat this fish once a week, or once every few weeks and incorporate some kind of seed-based snack in between, you're getting more Omega-3 than you would normally. Salmon is so versatile and lends itself to a variety of things, including miso-glaze (which will count as soy and as such, a legume!), salmon cakes, and even fish tacos which can incorporate veggies as well. Since Omega-3 helps to build the eyes and brain of your baby, this is a vital part of every woman's pregnancy diet.
17 First Trimester: Dairy
Let's be honest -- Dairy is a healthy part of anyone's diet, period. Especially when it comes to foods such as yogurts and milk, which provide probiotics and the necessary daily amount of calcium. What throws most women with dairy is knowing the difference between pasteurized and raw dairy products, such as cheese, kinds of milk, yogurts, etc. You should steer clear of raw products until your pregnancy is over (any other time, they can actually be better for you and provide natural, healthy bacteria -- from a trusted source, of course), but make sure that you get some in other ways. Even something as simple as making a parfait or smoothie with Greek yogurt can provide you with essential calcium, vitamin D, and probiotics. If you're lactose intolerant, never fear! Talk to your doctor about supplements.
16 First Trimester: Iron-Rich Foods
Now that more and more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, people are getting their iron from hearty, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, lettuce, etc. However, if you're an omnivore, it's important to incorporate lean meats as well that are rich in iron. A common problem early on in pregnancy can be anemia, and the way to combat that is by making sure that you're eating lean forms of beef, pork, and chicken. Never eat anything rare while you're pregnant since your immune system is more susceptible to sickness from undercooked meats. To help your body absorb iron better, increase your Vitamin C -- Some orange juice or, again, a side of spinach, can help aid this.
15 Second Trimester: Magnesium-Rich Veggies
Another super important vitamin is magnesium which can seem like it's hard to find, but it's found in some pretty common foods. You'll notice a familiar trend with all the foods you should incorporate into your diet because many of them contain crossover vitamins and nutrients that provide many different things in just one serving. Magnesium can be found in virtually anything you're already eating -- Salmon, leafy greens, various nuts and seeds, berries, avocados, etc. A great way to get a ton of magnesium in is to make a salad with shredded salmon, baby spinach, blueberries or strawberries, sunflower seeds, and sliced avocado. Delicious and healthy!
14 Second Trimester: Potatoes
We can't praise sweet potatoes enough. Not only have they made a huge comeback with the introduction of the Paleo diet, but they're also an excellent source of Vitamin A. This vitamins helps cell and tissue production, which you can imagine are extremely important during a baby's development. It's advised that women stay away from meat-based Vitamin A when they're pregnant, therefore Vitamin A from sweet potatoes becomes a crucial part in increasing daily intake of the vitamin. They also contain beta-carotene and fiber which are good for blood health and overall development. Regular potatoes can be a great source of potassium, but should definitely be eaten in moderation to reduce overall health risks such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
13 Second Trimester: Plain or Greek Yogurt
At this point in your second trimester, it's becoming increasingly important that you incorporate dairy in the form of probiotics into your diet. Contrary to popular belief, yogurt is a great addition to your diet while you're pregnant because it provides an excellent amount of calcium, but also continuously provides your body with all the healthy bacterias found in probiotics. With your immune system being temporarily weakened due to pregnancy, probiotics provide a good, strong front that your intestinal tracts need to remain healthy. A fun way to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet is by sauces (like tzatziki) or dips that can be flavored and used with veggie or apple chips -- Kale chips, apple chips, carrot chips, etc.
12 Second Trimester: More Seeds And Dried Fruit For Snacking
Pregnancy can be weird. You'll have days when you're ravenous, but you'll also have days where you don't feel so great and don't really want to eat much of anything. In that case, snacking becomes really important. Seeds and dried fruits are great to take on trips as well, while you're in the car, hanging out in the park, or just at a friend's house and don't want to feel hungry the entire time. They'll keep you feeling full and satisfied due to the high-calorie count, while providing you and your baby with folate, potassium, fiber, iron, and various vitamins, depending on what you eat. Dried prunes, dates, and berries are a great substitute for fresh fruit during a time crunch, but limit your intake -- The sugar count is much higher than fresh fruit.
11 Second Trimester: Hummus And Dark Chocolate
Surprisingly, these two can be eaten together! Hummus, since it's made from chickpeas, is a legume and as such, also provides a solid intake of folate and B-vitamins. Dark chocolate is good once in awhile, in moderation, to increase antioxidants, improve heart health, ease preeclampsia, and, well, make you happy! A square of dark chocolate every once in awhile is a good way to curve sugar cravings and keep you and your baby happy. If you do want a two-in-one way to combine the most nutrients, find a recipe for egg-free, chickpea cookie dough and substitute with dark chocolate chips, eat with sweet potato or fruit chips...You won't be disappointed.
10 Third Trimester: Fresh Fruits Rich In Vitamin C
You're almost at the finish line! At this point in your pregnancy, it's a matter of providing you and your baby with the final, nutrient-and-vitamin filled push you both need to be as healthy as possible. You've done great so far, and here are a few more things to keep your health at the peak of what it should be, such as fresh fruits. Anything citrus such as oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, clementines (which are a great on-the-go snack!), pineapple, etc., are obviously high in Vitamin C. Bananas, pears, apples, and watermelon also offer high vitamin C, as well as apricots which are a great snack when they're dried as well. This essential vitamin will help with muscle, cartilage, and skin health towards the end of your pregnancy.
9 Third Trimester: Lean Ham Several Ways
Eating deli meat is perfectly fine during your pregnancy, especially now, because all meats are treated before they even make it to their packaging. Not to mention, as long as they're fully-cooked, you can put aside your worries. Incorporating lean ham into your pregnancy can help give you that boost of protein that you need without needing to eat an entire well-done steak or chicken dinner. It can easily be put into omelets for breakfast or brunch, baked into quiche, put in salads, or even layered on a sandwich with some spinach and whole wheat bread for an extra power boost of fiber, protein, and iron.
8 Third Trimester: Beans, Beans, And More Beans
We get it, beans aren't necessarily the most attractive thing to be eating while you're pregnant. Fortunately, we're not talking about baked beans (unless that's your preference, in which case just be wary of your sugar intake), but virtually every type of bean. They're easy to eat and prepare and can be incorporated into nearly any meal -- Thank you, Pinterest! From black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), lentils, white beans, kidney beans, black-eyed beans, and soybeans, they all offer fiber, zinc, folate, and iron. Black beans can be used in soups, stews, salads, or even baked into brownies for a healthy, chocolatey treat. Meaty beans such as pinto and kidney beans are great for vegetarians since they can play a role that many types of meat often would. Soybeans offer the same benefits as legumes, similar to chickpeas.
7 Third Trimester: Avocados (Pictured As A Vegan Chocolate Mousse)
Avocado toast, anyone? We're just kidding...But not really! Avocados can be smeared on whole wheat toast (which we'll get to in a second) for a fiber boost, but they can be eaten in more ways than one. They can be used most obviously in salads, but you can put them in a cilantro-lime vinaigrette for a smooth, creamy dressing over a Southwestern salad (with black beans and shredded chicken!), as a topping for fish tacos, eaten alone with a little dollop of hummus on top, and can even be used as the base for vegan chocolate mousse. They offer vitamin C in spades as well as healthy fatty acids which are great to support healthy brain, tissue, and skin health. Ready for the list of every other nutrient you're getting in one avocado? B-vitamins, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate, and Vitamin E...That's what we call a superfood.
6 Third Trimester: Whole Wheat Toast
Whole grains are a great way to reach calorie (that should be bumped by 250-300 during pregnancy) counts. Eating whole wheat bread is a good option and will definitely help to fill you up, but you can get the same fiber out of other foods as well. Quinoa and oats help to bring calorie counts up while also becoming excellent sources of protein. Fiber will help to regulate your digestive system while extra protein bridges the gap with meats you might not be eating regularly. Whole grains also offer magnesium which can help any low counts you might have. The best part? Quinoa can easily be incorporated and used with virtually every other food you should be eating throughout your pregnancy and whole wheat bread is good for toast, which will be easy on your stomach during less than stellar digestive days.
5 Every Trimester: Nuts
While all of these foods should be eaten in moderation, here are some that you can, and should, be eating throughout the entire nine months of your pregnancy. Yes, many of these are more crucial during certain trimesters but overall, they drastically improve your nutritional health. Nuts are easy to keep on-hand and offer healthy fatty acids as well as protein and fiber. You can even substitute natural peanut butter and other nut butter for sandwiches and to use in recipes. A fun way to incorporate peanut butter for dinner is by making Thai Peanut noodles -- Use whole grain spaghetti for a boost of fiber and bell peppers for some vitamin C.
4 Every Trimester: Salmon
Fish should be eaten, at maximum, two times a week. It's definitely one of those things you don't want to overeat during pregnancy, but in moderation, salmon is one of the best fish you can have. Stay away from raw salmon like you'd find in sushi and instead, stick to broiling and baking it for full flavor and health benefits. It can be flaked over salads, eaten as a main course, or shredded for salmon cakes which are a healthy and lean alternative to hamburgers. You can get Omega-3 from other foods, but salmon is an easy, fast, and efficient way to get it and a full meal at the same time.
3 Every Trimester: Lean Meats
If you're not a vegetarian or vegan, making sure you get protein from meats is important. Protein is crucial in healthy development, both for maintaining your own health and helping your baby grow. Chicken is naturally lean and cuts of pork such as the loin or lean chops can be great options for dinner. With some whole wheat breadcrumbs and a side of sauteed kale with roasted sunflower seeds sprinkled over top, you have a nutritious and absolutely mouth-watering dinner. Lean beef is also a good option as long as it's not undercooked, try filet for a luxe dinner -- Just eat red meat in moderation.
2 Every Trimester: Broccoli And Leafy Greens
Iron, iron, and more iron! Since anemia can be a big problem early on in pregnancy, veggies such as spinach, kale, and broccoli -- basically anything dark green -- should be a staple in your pregnancy diet. Roasted broccoli with some garlic and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil becomes a great side dish or a topping for salads or pasta; roast until just slightly browned on top for a crunchy, flavor-filled dish. It can also be used in gratins or casseroles with dairy products or eaten raw as a snack in between lunch and dinner. Make a dip with some Greek yogurt and you're good to go! Spinach makes a perfect green smoothie (the best part is you won't even taste it) with bananas and a bit of peanut butter. Pro tip: chop and freeze your banana slices as well as your spinach for a quick prep. In addition, kale can easily be turned into kale chips with some salt, pepper, olive oil, and a 350-degree oven. Yum!
1 Every Trimester: Eggs
All day, every day. We're just kidding, you don't need to eat eggs that much, but they are healthy for you throughout pregnancy. One egg offers a large chunk of calories which is great for those days you don't feel like eating too much. They're also packed with protein and fats, which makes them a great option for vegetarians who still eat eggs and dairy (ovo-lacto-vegetarians). They're healthy in fats as well and contain a nutrient called Choline, which helps natural brain function and keeps you healthy. Eggs are probably one of the most versatile of foods, and can be used for baking, frying (don't consume undercooked eggs during pregnancy -- ensure they're cooked all the way through), omelets, quiches, and can even be baked flat like a pancake to make Paleo "crepes" that can then be filled with fruits and veggies. Scramble them in the morning and pour over avocado (whole wheat) toast for a superfood breakfast.