As a mom-to-be, I’m sure you’ve often heard that eating healthy is important when you’re expecting. Most of the time, though, people mistake this to mean consistently gaining weight or eating whatever you can get your hands on. This can be prevented with some simple pregnancy meal planning.
While eating enough for you and your baby should be one of your goals, what’s even more crucial for your little one’s development is eating enough of the right kind of food. In fact, it’s another misconception that you have to “eat for two” (or three) as there’s such a thing as unhealthy weight gain that can affect your baby’s growth. This can happen when you focus more on the quantity instead of the quality of food you consume.
If you’re not sure about which meals can get you the appropriate amount of nutrition, speaking to your healthcare provider and meal planning for pregnancy will help you get on the right track.
Why Do You Need a Pregnancy Meal Planning Guide?
Before going into the nitty-gritty of pregnancy meal planning, it’s important to remember that every pregnancy is unique. How long you’re into your pregnancy, along with other factors such as age, weight, fitness level, and health condition can affect the kind of food that’s best for you and your baby. For instance, women who are significantly underweight might need more calories, while those who are overweight might do better with less.
However, what’s certain is that you need to have a balance of whole fruits, vegetables, healthy whole grains, lean meats and protein.
This is where a pregnancy meal planning guide comes in handy. By having a well-crafted outline of what you should eat each day, you won’t miss out on the vital nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Having a pregnancy meal plan also saves you the trouble of scrambling for what to prepare during the day, as well as encourages you to stick to what you’re supposed to eat instead of being tempted to grab whatever’s quickest in the fridge.
5 Things Your Pregnancy Meal Planning Guide MUST Include
As I mentioned, no two pregnancies are alike, but there are certain kinds of food that every mom-to-be should have. For the average mama-to-be, you need to include the following kinds of food in your pregnancy meal plan (with the A-OK from your healthcare provider, of course):
Enriched whole grains like wheat bread or brown rice should compose half of your grain consumption for the day. What’s great about whole grains is that they contain fiber, nutrients, and vitamins. They’re also pretty filling, try to find those with seeds and nuts included for more fiber!
I’d always recommend choosing fresh fruit over the canned or frozen variety, but if you can’t always buy them fresh from the market, pick packaged fruit without the added sugar or sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup.
If you’re not a fan of eating fruit, try having half a cup of fruit juice instead, which can do wonders during the summer. What’s great about fruits is that they help ease constipation, prevent hemorrhoids, and promote digestion.
Like fruits, vegetables are better eaten fresh instead of canned or frozen, especially if you want to cut down on preservatives and sodium. Don’t hesitate to put a bit of color into your vegetable choices and have at least one serving of a dark leafy green and orange vegetable. Broccoli is a good choice as it contains calcium, folate, and B vitamins — all necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Eat the rainbow!
Don’t forget to properly wash vegetables to remove traces of soil, especially if you’re planning to eat them raw. Otherwise, consider lightly cooking them in a little water so they don’t lose too much of their nutrients.
4. Meat and Beans:
Meats and beans can be a great source of protein for you and the baby! Protein helps to maintain satiety, which is the feeling you get when you are content and not hungry. I like lean meats such as chicken, small servings of red meat, or fish, eggs and beans.
When taken in moderation, certain kinds of fats and oils can be good for you. Nuts, seeds, olive oil, or fatty fish can be good additions to your pregnancy meal plan. Avocados too, are a good source of oil since their calories come from fat. The best thing about avocados is that you can consume them in a variety of ways such as a smoothie, as guacamole, on toast, or as an addition to salads.
Plan Ahead for Successful Pregnancy Meal Planning
While a pregnancy meal plan will look different for each soon-to-be mama, having a guide will always be to your advantage. If a meal guide seems like a lot of work for you, you can check out my healthy monthly meal plan where I send out weekly meal plans.
Did I mention I include the shopping list for you, and all the meals are easy to prepare and full of flavor? I personally test each recipe first, and these are the same meals I’ve eaten throughout my pregnancy! Half the meals are also vegetarian if you are looking to have less meat in your diet.
Watch out for more posts like this and don’t forget to enjoy your journey towards becoming a mama!