A healthy pregnancy diet is vital to you and your baby and has long been recognized as an important part of prenatal care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has considered evaluation and education of nutrition to be a prenatal care standard for decades. Unfortunately, many doctors and midwives devote only a few minutes to discussing diet. Luckily you decide what you eat every day – so you can choose a nutrient dense pregnancy diet.
Eat Local! The Benefits of Local Foods
It’s amazing how important things become when you’re pregnant, even when you never paid attention before. Many moms find they’re concerned about pesticides, hormones, and other additives in food.
Eating foods grown locally is a wonderful way to know not only where your food came from, but to visit the farm and get to know the farmers. You can ask how pests are managed and what fertilizers are used on crops. You can see livestock and their living conditions.
Choosing local foods also supports your local economy and helps you grow a vibrant community for your baby to grow, learn, and thrive within.
Boosting the Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables
Your baby needs plenty of vitamins and minerals for optimal development and there’s no doubt that vegetables and fruits can be a nutritional powerhouse. The levels of vitamins and minerals are multiplied when you use home-grown produce.
Foods grown in your garden have a higher nutrient content than those trucked into grocery stores. You’re also able to pick the produce at the peak of ripeness when vitamin and mineral levels are also at their height.
Simple crops like salad lettuce can be grown even in balcony gardens. If you’re really adventurous and have room, you can keep a few hens for superior eggs. If you can’t grow your own produce, check out farmer’s markets for quality local produce – and consider canning and freezing some to last through colder months!
Protein and Salt Are the Base of a Good Pregnancy Diet
Your body needs plenty of protein during pregnancy. It’s a building block for cells and you have an entire baby to build! Work done by Dr. Thomas Brewer, Dr. Barbara Luke, and others show that at least 80-100g of protein is essential for a singleton pregnancy and more for twins and higher order multiples.
Protein is important but not the only nutrient vital to pregnancy. Salt also deserves a special mention. This frequently villainized nutrient is actually very important to your body. Your blood supply expands by 50-60% in pregnancy and sodium (salt) is what makes sure this can happen. Your body knows what it’s doing – salt to taste.
Getting plenty of protein in the form of clean meats such as chicken and beef, legumes like soaked beans and lentils, and lots of fruits and vegetables form the basis of a great pregnancy diet. Full-fat dairy products from cows or goats grazed on pasture gives you protein, salt, and brain-boosting healthy fats. Good fats are essential — get them from butter, salmon and other seafood, and traditional vegetable oils like coconut and red palm oil.
You can put together a healthy, nutrient-dense pregnancy diet with local produce, pasture-raised meats, and traditional fats. These nourishing food groups have given healthy babies a great start for centuries. Plus you get the bonus I love to share with my childbirth students — all these nutrients give your body the energy and nourishment it needs for a natural labor and birth! It’s a win-win for you and for baby.
What are your favorite nutrient-dense pregnancy meals or snacks?