The Best Food for Growing a Healthy Baby While Pregnant.
Your nutrition during pregnancy is more important than your nutrition at probably any other time in your life. You are responsible for growing a brand new human being inside of your body beginning from a single cell.
Your body is creating organs, blood, new cells, DNA, and all the body systems that will carry your child throughout the entire rest of their lives. What you eat directly affects your child’s morbidity and mortality throughout their lifetime.
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Why Pregnancy Nutrition is so Important.
It’s actually quite amazing. Through the study of epigenetics and how it relates to a mothers’ nutrition during pregnancy, we now know that what a mother eats while pregnant has the ability to turn certain genes on and off during the fetus’ growth.
We now know the food to grow a healthy baby while pregnant is far more important than we ever thought!
You should always be focusing on getting as much nutrient-dense whole food into your diet as you can! That includes a good mix of protein (especially that from meats), healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates.
Getting enough of the nutrients:
- vitamin D
are extremely important during pregnancy! The best way to get these nutrients are from your diet. All except for vitamin D which is actually quite tough to get enough of through your diet alone, some good old sunshine should do the trick though!)
Prenatal nutrition and fitness feels like a mystery to many of us.
I mean your doctor hardly even touches on that area at all.
And yet, we now know that what you eat and how active you are while pregnant directly affects your baby’s genetic outcome, turning on and off certain genes based on your nutrition and fitness!
How’s a mom to know what to eat, what not to eat, and how to safely exercise to have a fit bump-only pregnancy and grow the most healthy baby possible through her diet and exercise?
I’ve created a new amazingly extensive, detailed, and easy to apply 2-part prenatal nutrition and fitness course called The Perfect Pregnancy Plan.
I’m a Personal Fitness Trainer who’s also certified in Nutrition and Lifestyle During Pregnancy and I break down EVERYTHING about prenatal nutrition and how it directly relates to your baby’s growth and development.
Plus the program has tons of amazing recipes, and since we now know prenatal exercise has a direct affect on how your baby’s genes are expressed, the PPP program even has a full 40 week workout plan that addresses all your prenatal needs from pelvic floor, to diastasis recti, to prenatal backache.
If you have ever wondered about anything related to prenatal diet and exercise, the Perfect Pregnancy Plan is exactly what you need. See what other moms have to say about it!
Taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin is important, but it is merely a supplement. You should never rely on a pill to meet your dietary nutritional requirements.
(Though through times of morning sickness those naturally sourced prenatal vitamins may be more important than ever! There are tons of tips that you can try to ease morning sickness and get you back on track to more balanced eating.)
Nutrients are far better absorbed when consumed naturally through your diet.
Many vitamins (and fortified foods as well) contain artificial or low-quality lab created vitamins that are meant to replicate the real thing.
Your body knows the difference between nutrients from nature and nutrients created in a laboratory.
Always aim to get the most nutrient dense food you can to consume during pregnancy to grow a healthy baby.
How Much Should You be Eating to Grow a Healthy Baby?
If you’ve heard you need to start “eating for two” now that you’re pregnant, know that is a highly misleading phrase. It often makes new moms feel that they should be doubling their caloric intake.
When in reality, pregnancy only requires about 100 additional calories a day in the first trimester, and 300 calories a day in the second two.
For me personally, I was the most ravenous in the first trimester always. I’d say while the 100-300 calorie increase is an overall healthy average, but don’t be afraid to listen to your body.
You should not be starving yourself or overeating because of your pregnancy. Be intuitive with your eating. Eat when you are hungry and chose nutritionally dense food choices.
That means food that is high in vitamins and minerals and relatively low in calories by comparison. It is also vital that you pay attention to what you drink during pregnancy. Being pregnant increases your hydration requirements and many of us fill that need with sugary empty calories! But there are over a dozen healthy and delicious things you can drink while pregnant to stay hydrated and nourish your baby too!
What are 5 of the best foods for healthy baby growth during pregnancy?
The one macronutrient that is most vitally important to increase during pregnancy is protein. It is proven that you need to increase your protein intake by 10-15%. I go over this in detail in the Perfect Pregnancy Plan program, along with tons of great recipes!
This comes out to eating approximately 70 – 100 grams of protein a day while pregnant.
Red meat is very high in iron. Actually, liver is even higher in iron, far more than anything else. If liver is something that you can stomach it can be extremely helpful in growing a healthy baby.
(If that idea alone makes you squeamish consider taking a high-quality liver supplement. All the naturally sourced iron that you would get from the fresh liver, and much easier to stomach for most. Opt for a grass-fed beef liver supplement like this one because they have the highest nutritional density and the lowest if any, pesticide residue.)
To grow a healthy baby try to include a lot of red meat in your diet because it is rich in protein and high in iron.
Don’t be scared off from eating eggs at all by being warned that you shouldn’t eat runny eggs. Hardboiled eggs and scrambled eggs leave no runniness and allow you to reap all the benefits of consuming eggs without any fear of salmonella poisoning.
To ease your worries even further let me assure you that you are 7x more likely to contract salmonella from fresh produce than you are from eggs in 2019. When was the last time you heard of a salmonella outbreak from eggs? And when was the last time you heard of one from lettuce or some other produce? Just something to consider.
Eggs are rich in protein and choline. If you haven’t heard much about choline you need to learn more about it! It’s been found in the last couple of decades that choline is as important to a growing baby as folate is!
Epigenetics has shown that adequate choline consumption while in utero, benefits your baby’s brain function and memory through their entire lives!
But keep in mind egg yolks are the part rich in choline so you need to be consuming the entire egg to reap its nutritional benefits.
Aim for 450 mg of choline per day (that would be about 4 eggs). (Other great sources of choline are liver and peanuts.)
Eggs will help you grow a healthy baby because they are high in protein, rich in choline, and a great source of DHA! The PPP course even comes with printables of all the nutrients your baby needs you to increase to keep on your fridge so you always will remember!
Yet another food that you may have been told to stay away from in pregnancy that is actually super important to be consuming to grow a healthy baby is fish!
Children of women who have consumed 12 oz. of fish per week or more test cognitively higher all throughout grade school. Isn’t that amazing?
That doesn’t mean that you should eat all types of fish! Fish does contain some levels of mercury. Generally, the bigger the fish and the more fish that it has consumed in its lifetime, the more mercury it is going to contain. The fish to avoid entirely during pregnancy due to a high mercury content are:
- king mackerel
- tuna must be limited to 6 oz. per week
Fish is so important to consume during pregnancy to grow a healthy baby because it is the best source of DHA, which is vital to a baby’s brain development.
Fish are also one of the very few foods that are high in levels of vitamin D. (Other than that your vitamin D comes from sun exposure.)
Fish also contain many other absolutely necessary nutrients such as iodine, selenium, and zinc.
If you want to learn more about exactly which fish are the best sources for all the nutrients you growing baby needs and exactly what those nutrients are enhancing in their growth, so you know what to focus on eating more of, the Perfect Pregnancy Plan is going to be your favorite handbook for your pregnancy.
So eat at least 12 oz. of fish per week that is low in mercury to help your growing baby to get enough DHA, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, and zinc.
Dark Leafy Greens
We pretty much all accept that dark green vegetables are a rich source of nutrients that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. What is wonderful about adding leafy greens to your diet is that there are an abundance of healthy options!
Greens are loaded with folate (in fact it’s one of the best sources for it!), vitamin-C, beta-carotene, and fiber.
Greens don’t have to be a boring salad. They can be:
- sauteed with coconut oil
- roasted and served with melted butter or cheese on top
- or even turned into baked chips by rubbing with a little almond oil and sprinkling with sea salt.
In fact, the nutrients from vegetables are best absorbed and utilized by the body when consumed with a healthy fat! You are actually enhancing the benefits that you will receive from your veggies by pairing them with tasty healthy fats like coconut oil, butter, or avocado oil.
There are other great tips to increase the absorption of the nutrients in greens and lots of other healthy foods that I go over in the PPP course so that you can make all that great food your eating really count!
Add dark leafy greens for more folate, vitamin-c, beta-carotene, and fiber to grow a healthy baby.
Chia seeds are a tiny little superfood. They are also rich in many minerals that will help you to grow a healthy baby.
- soluble fiber
- insoluble fiber
In addition to being nutritionally dense, chia seeds are also good for digestion.
Something that you really need to focus on during pregnancy and in the postpartum period as well. As your hormones rage and all of your organs are squished around, many women deal with constipation during pregnancy.
Adding chia seeds into your diet for healthy baby growth by supplying them with calcium, magnesium, fiber, potassium, iron, and healthy fats.
Wrapping up food for healthy baby growth during pregnancy.
The top 5 foods to include in your diet to grow a healthy baby and give them the best chance at a great start and healthy life are meats, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, and chia seeds. If you enjoyed this post you really need to learn more about the Perfect Pregnancy Plan nutrition and fitness courses. They are built for moms like you, who know that prenatal nutrition is vital to setting your baby up for a healthy life!
Be sure that food you are choosing during pregnancy is rich in vitamins and minerals and is nutritionally dense. The calories you consume should be filled with vitamins that will aid in baby’s development and help keep mama healthy, fit, and energized throughout pregnancy.