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Nutrients I’m Eating for Pregnancy

Eating for pregnancy has been a journey. Each trimester its a little different and I’m really having to lean into nourishing with nutrients to support the growth but also listen to my body as far as portion sizes and foods that sound or don’t sound good.

Since it is my first pregnancy and everyone’s experience is different, this is by no means medical advice but here is what I have learned and researched as key things to incorporate and where I’m leaning on whole food sources, supplementation, and bridging the gaps.

1. Lean Proteins

You already know protein is a key nutrient that we all aren’t getting enough of anyway, but especially when pregnant the protein requirements increase drastically. In early pregnancy, your protein needs are 39% higher and in later pregnancy they are 79% higher! So it's super important! Incorporating lean proteins such as poultry, fish, eggs, and legumes ensures an adequate supply of amino acids for baby's growth. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon contribute to the development of your baby's brain and eyes.

This one was hard for me during the first trimester, proteins were pretty hard to stomach outside of protein powder in smoothies and bone broth but after that, they have been much easier to consume. Leaning on variety and changing it up also helps. Some great sources to incorporate are:

  • Baked Chicken to throw onto salads, into bowls, and with various veggies

  • Ground beef for taco bowls, quesadillas, beef & broccoli bowls, or to toss into eggs

  • Wild caught Salmon patties (I love the frozen ones from Costco that make it really easy) on top of some pesto pasta or a salad.

  • Eggs are a staple in my breakfast pretty much daily for protein but they are also a great source of choline (which is critical for fetal brain development).

  • Breakfast sausages (Applegate Naturals are my favorite)

  • Bone broth (for sipping on and cooking with)

  • Collagen & protein powder (I'm always adding into baked goods, matcha/coffee, and smoothies)

2. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are also important to continue to consume while pregnant. Especially as things start to slow down in the body (thank you raging hormones), the fiber is going to help you feel better to keep things moving. Not to mention they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are excellent sources of folate, crucial for preventing neural tube defects but in the bio-available form. The fiber in a lot of non-starchy fruits and vegetables can also be great for your gut (and your gut makeup helps to shape the baby’s too!)

Did you know, that the more variety you eat while pregnant it can help to grow your baby’s preferences for healthy foods? Lily Nichols, a Registered Dietitian who focuses on prenatal nutrition shared that early exposure to healthy foods can help set the stage for non-picky eaters when they transition to solid foods. So load up on the colorful foods now, for both current and future you & baby.

Non-starchy vegetables can include foods like broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens and many more!

3. Dairy and Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is crucial for the development of baby's bones and teeth. This is controversial for some but I have still been consuming raw milk and raw dairy cheese throughout my pregnancy. The quality of the nutrients in raw milk (vitamins, natural probiotics, etc) are more bio-available and in higher quantities than in conventional dairy. When you find a trusted source for raw dairy, this can be completely safe.

I have been having some conventional dairy as well in the form of cottage cheese & yogurt, as these are also great sources of protein as well. Its perfect for adding more to meals, smoothies, or snacks. My go-to sources are:

  • Good Culture cottage cheese

  • Painterland Sister's yogurt

  • Raw Farm milk's cheddar cheese

4. Healthy Fats

Healthy fats play a vital role in baby's brain development. There are also a lot of vitamins and nutrients found in high-fat foods (such as choline and vitamin A). So don't be afraid of eating fat (pregnant or not pregnant). Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. They also help in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.

The quality of fats matters just as much as the quantity! Prioritizing omega-3 fats over omega-6 fats will be super beneficial not only to your health and inflammation but also to the baby’s development (their metabolism and motor skills can be negatively impacted by too much omega-6 consumption). Healthy ways to incorporate fats can include:

  • Cooking with olive oil or grass-fed butter

  • Eating fatty fish, grass-fed meat, and pasture-raised eggs regularly

  • Avocado and nut butter added to meals and snacks

  • Adding hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax meal to bowls, smoothies, and meals for adding fat and vitamin supplementation.

5. Hydration: Sip, Sip, Hooray!

Staying hydrated is crucial during pregnancy. Water helps in forming the amniotic fluid, carrying nutrients to your baby, and preventing urinary tract infections. But also making sure you are getting enough minerals in that water to replenish the excessive fluids you are expelling from breathing more, using the bathroom, and just needing to take on more overall fluids to accommodate for the growth. Minerals are essential to many different processes but especially muscle contractions, stomach acid and food break down, and hormone production.

You also will want to increase fluids since it will help you feel better and minimize muscle cramps, headaches, and many other discomforts. Depending on how active you are, your fluid intake may vary but generally shooting for 100oz of fluids a day while pregnant can be a great place to start. Fluids I’m regularly incorporating

  • Water with electrolyte packets (such as LMNT)

  • Coconut water

  • Water with added mineral drops

  • Mineral mocktails

  • bone broth & soups

  • matcha with raw milk

6. Snack Smart: Nutrient-Packed Options

I didnt experience much nausea with this pregnancy but the handful of times I did, having a small snack sometimes helped. And towards the later end of the pregnancy, when my stomach was smooshed by the growing belly, I opted for small snacks and meals since thats what felt comfortable. Leaning on the above for those snack options, I opted for wholesome snacks like full fat yogurt with berries, a handful of nuts, Chomp sticks, a balanced smoothie, or a snack plate with homemade meatballs, nuts, cheese, and veggies and hummus. These snacks provide a combination of protein, healthy fats, and fiber to keep the satisfaction between meals but also blood sugar balance.

I’ve learned from my own experience that what works for everyone is different so try on out different meals, timings, portions, sources etc and find what works for you. Embrace a variety of nutrient-dense foods to ensure you're meeting your increased nutritional needs. And be sure to prioritize your well-being, stay active, and listen to what your body is telling you.

I’m here to support you if you have any questions on navigating food swaps and ideas to get what you need.

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