Ask the Dietitian: Eating During Pregnancy

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Eating During Pregnancy

by Kristin King, RD, LDN, CHC, CPT

I haven’t always had the healthiest relationship with food. During my days of collegiate gymnastics, I struggled with disordered eating patterns and had somewhat of an unhealthy relationship with food. After changing my major to nutrition, I learned how to effectively change the way that I viewed food and began eating healthier to fuel my body. 
These days, I am in my late twenties and life has changed a bit. I am pregnant with my second child and I am very conscious about making sure that I am giving my body (and my baby) the best nutrition possible. 
Before trying to get pregnant I made sure to start taking prenatal vitamins to prepare my body for what was to come. When first finding out that I was pregnant, I definitely needed to make a few changes. For example, no more alcohol, caffeine, deli meats, raw or under-cooked foods, high mercury fish, etc.  When you are carrying a human, you seem to care a bit more about everything that goes into your body! I began making sure that I was including more foods that are high in calcium, iron and folic acid into my meals and snacks.  Luckily I didn’t struggle with morning sickness/nausea so I was able to continue eating the foods that I was accustomed to. Examples of typical snacks that I typically eat throughout the day include low-fat string cheese as snacks, boiled eggs, ready-to-drink protein shakes, fresh berries, bananas, Luna bars, carrots and hummus or nuts such as almonds, pistachios or cashews.  For lunch I will usually eat leftovers from the night before or a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread (so quick and easy).  For dinner I try to always include a vegetable and lean protein. I love roasted broccoli and salads so we typically include these as a side in our home.  I typically cook one meal per week in the crock-pot since it is such an easy, convenient method of cooking. A typical crock-pot meals for us include red beans and brown rice (New Orleans dish), crock-pot Mexican chicken served with black beans and peppers, soups, and chili. I love to incorporate beans into dinners since beans are a great source of fiber, protein and folic acid.  Other common dinners include salads with plenty of leafy greens and protein, spaghetti and meat sauce with extra lean ground beef and high protein pasta or a chickpea pasta, stir fry, flatbread pizza with pesto, veggies and low-fat cheese, etc. 
During pregnancy, you aren’t actually “eating for two” like many people may tell you. Your body only needs an extra 300 calories per day on average, so I try not to indulge too much…. Even though it is tempting! I try to get those extra calories from nutritious foods, however I do have the occasional “splurge” of french fries or sweets. I prefer “grazing” through the day by eating a small snack or meal every 3 hours or so. This helps my energy levels and prevents me from getting overly hungry, or “hangry” as some may call it. 
Eating healthy and exercising during pregnancy definitely helps me bounce back quicker afterwards and helps me maintain a healthy lifestyle.  I encourage anyone who is pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant to consult with a LifeStart Registered Dietitian, we can help you make sure that you are eating healthy for you and your baby!