Eating healthy while pregnant may seem like a no-brainer however there are also many women who think that being pregnant is a license to eat anything they want. During my first pregnancy I joked that my husband was the food police, but quickly believed his approach was valid when my daughter was born at 36 weeks – considered a late pre-term delivery – and was perfectly healthy – no NICU, no lung issues, no issues even today – that my diet played a big role in her outcome. Wanting to see if this would work a second time, I followed the same nutrition regimen with my second daughter – now three weeks old – and she too was born healthy. Admittedly I was a little less strict this time around yet remained true to the core approach.
Based on our experience, here are some tips to consider for your pregnancy diet (author’s note: this does not replace the advice of your physician):
Buying organic fruits and vegetables in the Bay Area is pretty accessible via certified Farmer’s Markets however many grocery stories carry fresh organic produce and organic products including non-GMO (genetically modified organism) items.
Know Where Your Food Comes From
For all meat and fish, my husband was careful to ask whether it was farmed or wild-pole-line caught, and where the meat, poultry or fish came from. Knowing the farm or information about how the animals are fed and treated - including use of antibiotics and hormones - helps you understand what you are ingesting. If eating local is an option, try to learn about the farm practices as well.
Take Your Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are a must and your physician will concur. Omega-3 fish oil capsules are a good second addition. Omega-3 fish oil helps with brain development while in utero and post-delivery as well. To complement your prenatal vitamins and also provide a tasty snack, I also discovered the Belly Bar. During my first pregnancy these were easy to find at Whole Foods or any pregnancy-related store. The second pregnancy I had a harder time finding them. They come in flavors that make you think you are eating dessert but you are not.
I usually drink half-caffeinated coffee on a regular basis and didn’t give this up while pregnant. Once a day I had my treat so I didn’t feel like I was giving up everything. Some physicians say it’s fine, others say not to drink it. Ultimately, you want to enjoy being pregnant and not be resentful for 10 months.
Eat, Eat, Eat
This may sound strange and you may worry about your weight, but if you eat a lot and eat healthy options, you will gain a healthy weight for you and your baby. Don’t skip breakfast, do eat a snack before lunch, do eat lunch and eat another snack in the afternoon. Do eat dinner and if you have no aversions, spice up the menu. Eat fruit, almonds, graham crackers, protein like hard-boiled eggs and cheese sticks, and more.
Working outside the home can sometimes make it more challenging to eat healthy meals and snacks so plan ahead each week. Pre-pack your snacks on Sunday so you can grab-n-go when you are heading to work. Think about your lunches for the week and instead of eating at the local café each day (which can also be pricey), buy pre-made organic salads or meals from your local grocery store.
I recognized that there are many factors that contribute to your baby’s health like genetics, the environment, and your mental health, to name a few. That said, if you are vigilant with your diet while pregnant, then your health and your baby’s health have been given the best start possible. And if you are lucky, your newborn will grow into a child with healthy and diverse eating habits for the long term.
Kelsey Combellick is a career-loving parent who us is passionate about travel, food, wine and her family. Email her at email@example.com.