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April 21, 2016 / Amy Height

The Pregnancy Diet Checklist: What to Eat When You're Expecting

Pregnancy grocery shopping

A pregnant body needs more of everything: more rest, more hydration, more nutrients and more calories. When it comes to food, every woman’s body responds to pregnancy differently; while some experience intense cravings from the beginning, others experience marked changes in taste preferences, thirst and frequency of meals.

It’s most important to listen to what your body asks for and to move through this time of transition as mindfully as you can: awareness of what your body needs and how it reacts will provide a barometer for your health and your baby’s development.

That said, there are some general guidelines that apply to many pregnancies. As you move through your nine months growing a tiny human, use this pregnancy diet checklist and play with what you need – and what feels most delicious – to stay satisfied and well.

Make pregnancy easier with this custom meal planner. Take the PlateJoy lifestyle quiz and see your personalized menu!

Know your nutrients

A balance of varied proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates ensures your body receives what it needs to stay strong and pass along what your baby needs as he or she grows. A developing fetus will pull nutrients from your tissues whether or not you have the excess to share, so eating sufficient healthful food is key for both of you.  

Other key nutrients on your pregnancy diet checklist are actually good for us at any time of life, so you can preempt a healthy pregnancy by including these in your diet regularly, even before conception:

Know what not to eat

While there are lots of things you can eat, there are a few things to avoid during your pregnancy for your safety and baby’s.

Eat more, smaller meals

To keep blood sugar stable (and to keep morning sickness in check), small frequent meals or snacks can be a great strategy. Aim to eat something every 2-3 hours.

Having something handy in your purse or at your desk can be a lifesaver for those sudden blood sugar plummets. Some quick options include things like avocado, leftover sweet potato, whole grain sprouted bread with nut butter, canned fish or beans, hummus and veggies and fresh fruit. Orange juice, yogurt or an English muffin can also work wonders if you’re short on energy but feeling queasy.

Listen to your cravings

Listening to cravings is one of the best ways to identify mineral and macronutrient deficiencies in your body. For instance, ‘I want a steak!’ could be translated into ‘I need some iron!’ or ‘I need a bagel!’ might be ‘I need a quick burst of energy’. It’s up to you to listen to that signal, interpret it and find the choice that’s going to feel best for you. If you know a bagel is going to make you feel unwell, choose fruit or another grain that might accomplish the same thing.

Be okay with everyday not being perfect

There will be days when the thought of eating cooked veggies is downright gross (but eating four bags of popcorn feels totally necessary). Know that your body will tell you what it’s looking for: just  tune in and have nourishing goodies handy for times when carrots and brown rice are the answer. For those other times, indulge in your treat of choice and don’t beat yourself up. Balance is essential!

Make pregnancy easier with this custom meal planner. Take the PlateJoy lifestyle quiz and see your personalized menu!

This content is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is provided for information purposes only.

Amy Height
Holistic Nutritionist @ From the Ground Up Wellness

Amy Height is the founder of From the Ground Up Wellness, a holistic nutrition practice where she specializes in plant-based nutrition and helping her clients combat food addiction. She completed her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she received her certification in the Health Coach Training Program. She is a triathlete and CrossFitter with a passion for all things outdoors. By night, Amy stage manages Broadway musicals and she frequently travels North America seeking out the best vegan restaurants and the best run courses. Follow her on Instagram or check out her blog for recipe and wellness ideas.


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