Let’s get real: When you’re pregnant in the dead of winter, controlling your weight is no piece of cake, although you’d probably like to eat one—and then another. We share our favorite recipes for comfort foods with a lighter twist to give you more energy and protect your and your developing baby’s health.
Whole grains may just be the holy grail of pregnancy foods.“The many varieties of whole grains are supercharged with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that offer benefits for both mom and baby,” says San Diego-based dietitian Wendy Bazilian, Dr.PH., R.D., author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale). Plus, their complex carbohydrates help keep energy levels up throughout the day, she adds.
Fortified foods like vitamin D-enriched milk or calcium-added orange juice seem like an easy way to get the nutrients you need. But are they the best way to nourish you and your baby? The answer depends on the nutrient as well as the food it’s fortifying. “Adding nutrients can encourage people to look at a food as having a health halo when in reality it may be full of sodium, unhealthy fats or added sugars,” says Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. Plus, too much of certain nutrients could cause unwanted side effects.
Baby, It's cold outside. While winter may not be the season you associate with fresh produce, a bounty of unsung winter vegetables is increasingly available. “It’s important for a healthy pregnancy that you get all the vital nutrients found in vegetables year-round,” says Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., an Orlando, Fla.-based dietitian and mother of two.
As if being pregnant isn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, here’s another: You’re expected—and encouraged—to eat! Experts agree you need more calories, more often, as a mom-to-be. While it’s recommended that the average woman take in 2,000 calories each day, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), expectant moms need roughly 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.
When you are invited to visit a brand new baby, you bring food for the parents. It’s just…necessary. Every time I do it, I’m surprised by just how necessary. Parents of a newborn typically hand over the tiny new addition then fall on the food like starved wild animals, forgoing niceties like utensils or reheating. It reminds me every time that taking care of a week or two old baby is so all-consuming that you not only don’t have time to cook, you don’t have time to remember you’re hungry.
You may be hungrier than ever, but nausea, indigestion and the need to control your calorie intake can make it tough to get the nutrition you and your baby need. Our expert advice and satisfying recipes will help you overcome the challenges each trimester poses.
Rest easy, all you pregnant vegans and vegetarians out there: Medical experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), have given you the green light to continue your current way of eating— as long as it’s well-planned. “You can have a healthy pregnancy on such a diet,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., an ADA spokeswoman who sees pregnant vegetarians in her private practice.
“You just have to do it right.”
As you know, folate, fiber and iron are essential nutrients for you and your growing baby. What you may not know is that you can get all three by eating chives. Or, how about adding figs to your diet to boost your calcium intake?
From traditional meals with family to laid-back gatherings with friends, this time of year is a minefield of social activities centered around food and drink. “Most people hang up their diet hat during the holidays because they feel they can get back on the program later,” says Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips. But when you’re pregnant, you don’t have the luxury of giving up a healthy eating plan—even for a few weeks.
It may be tempting to trash your healthy eating habits during pregnancy. After all, you’re going to get big no matter what you eat, right? Not so fast. Experts say that making nutrition mistakes during pregnancy not only robs your baby of crucial nutrients, it also sabotages your own short- and long-term health. Make pregnancy an opportunity to improve your health, says registered physician assistant Amy Hendel, author of 2008’s Fat Families, Thin Families.