Eating For Two
“I’m eating for two.”
This reality usually provides an excuse to double up on portion size or indulge in all those pregnancy cravings, and can be especially tempting after surviving morning sickness and struggling with food aversion. Growing a human takes work! And while it’s true that appetite changes and pregnancy cravings are undeniable, it’s important to know what foods to “eat for two” in a way that’s healthy, fuels your body, and helps your baby develop and grow.
- Folic Acid – Foods high in folic acid are dried beans, peas, lentils, citrus fruits and juices, most berries, whole-wheat products, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach and other dark, leafy greens. Daily consumption of foods high in folic acid is vital for pregnant women or women who are trying to become pregnant, as these foods contain Vitamin B which also supports baby’s brain and spinal development.
- Fish – Most fish are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which also benefits baby’s brain development. The FDA recommends 2-3 servings of fish per week and has a list of which are good to eat and which you should avoid. Catfish, flounder, salmon, and shrimp are good choices!
- Calcium – Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best sources for calcium, but so are vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Though prenatal vitamins contain some calcium, pregnant women need at least 1000 mg daily to help their baby’s teeth and bones grow. One glass of milk has about 300 mg, one serving of yogurt has under 200 mg, and one serving of broccoli has 70 mg.
- Iron – Pregnant women require almost double the iron of someone who is not pregnant. Iron is vital to red blood cell production, which helps increase oxygen supplied to vital organs. Iron also builds resistance to stress and diseases and decreases pregnancy symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and depression. Most prenatal vitamins contain the daily recommended dose, but eat iron-rich foods such as red meat, fish, chicken, quinoa, beans, and peas. Since iron is absorbed more easily when consumed with foods rich in Vitamin C, you can drink a glass of orange or tomato juice with your meal. Prune juice is also high in iron and helps with constipation, which ironically is one of the results of eating more iron!
- Protein – Eating protein is also important for the growth and development of your baby. Foods such as skinless chicken, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, chickpeas, peas, almonds, pumpkin seeds and tofu are high in protein.
Making a list of what foods you need to eat during your pregnancy is helpful when deciding what “sounds good” in the moment. Liver might not be high on the list, but maybe peas are. Folic acid for the win! (And iron and protein!) You’ve probably noticed that many foods are listed under several categories, so keeping healthy foods stocked makes healthy choices in the moment that much easier!
For more information check out the FDA’s Guide on Food Safety for Moms-to-Be here.