A Healthy Diet for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy can be a trying time for your body. If you choose to eat healthily, your pregnancy and recovery after labor may be much more pleasant.
Eating healthily doesn’t just mean reducing or restricting what you’re eating. In fact, when most experts talk about a diet for pregnant women, they don’t actually mean diet in the sense of “a plan to lose weight”. Deliberately trying to lose weight during pregnancy can deprive your body of essential nutrients as it works to provide for you and the baby. Healthy eating, on the other hand, gives your body the nutrition it needs.
Eating in a healthy manner is a personal choice. If someone tries to force you to eat a certain way for a long period of time, odds are you won’t last long. If, for example, you don’t want to eat loads of vegetables, you’re unlikely to keep to a veggie-heavy diet for very long.
So that’s the very first step in creating a pregnancy-related diet: deliberately choosing a healthier diet because you believe that the benefits are worth it. If you keep your focus on why you’re changing your diet, you will find it easier to give up your old habits and focus on healthier eating.
Making smart choices when grocery shopping
Many women are used to dieting to lose weight. Those diets usually consist of reducing the amount of food you eat, either by eliminating a category (fats, carbs) or by lowering the total number of calories you consume. We’ve already said that these kinds of diets are rarely healthy during pregnancy.
The good news is, you don’t really need to watch calories if you’re making healthy eating choices. Why? Because your body knows what to do with good nutrition. Once it is getting the nutrients it needs, it will begin to shift back to its natural balance.
Eating healthy foods will make you feel full more quickly because it takes your body longer to process healthy foods. In particular, you will notice this change if you have a sweet tooth or eat a lot of simple carbs (anything made with white flour, white rice, etc.).
Foods with lots of sugars or simple carbs cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. It drops just as quickly a short time later. Your body doesn’t like this, so it tries to get back on an even keel by having you eat more to bring your blood sugar back to normal. That’s why you feel hungry soon after eating or drinking something with lots of sugar. If you eat healthy foods with lots of protein and whole grains, you will break this negative cycle and find that your food cravings go away.
But what is healthy eating? Here is a list of food items that can get you started on the road to a healthier diet:
1. Turkey bacon or ground turkey (substitute these items for regular bacon or hamburger, both of which have lots of saturated fat).
2. Bran cereal (aside from eating it, possibly with some fresh fruit on the top, bran cereal can be used as a replacement for bread crumbs or to give the crunch of fried foods without the unhealthy side effects).
3. Cooking spray (can be used in place of butter to coat pans for cooking).
4. Low- or no-fat milk (a generally healthier alternative to full fat milk, but still containing calcium and usually Vitamin D, both good nutrients during pregnancy).
5. Lean cuts of meats.
6. Vinegars (experiment with flavored variants for your warm salads in place of mayo, or mix with olive oil for a healthy cold salad dressing).
7. Herbs and spices (use in place of salt; salt can raise blood pressure and too much of it can harm the kidneys, too).
8. Whole-grain products (contain more nutrients and dietary fiber, which is healthy in general and particularly when dealing with pregnancy constipation).
9. Organic vegetables (look for organic-certified products; they aren’t grown with pesticides or artificial fertilizers, so they usually have more of the nutrients you’re looking for).
10. Fruits (a great way to get some sweetness with added vitamins and without loads of sugar. If eaten whole, you also get plenty of fiber.).
An ideal diet for pregnant women isn’t about losing weight, it’s about changing your habits to get the maximum amount of nutrition. You will feel healthier, have more energy and be better prepared to deal with all the changes your body is going through.