Three hundred calories — that’s the amount of additional calories needed to nourish pregnant moms-to-be and their growing babies. Although myths of late-night fast food cravings and ice cream binges surround the nine months leading up to new motherhood, many pregnant women are surprised to learn that those extra 300 calories don’t equate to that much extra food. Further, those calories need to be obtained from quality, nutritious sources. So put down that bag of chips and start eating healthy to get you — and your baby — off to a good start.
The most beneficial foods for pregnant women
With the help of Mitzi Dulan, RD, and co-author of The All-Pro Diet, we’ve assembled a list of some of the most beneficial foods every pregnant woman should incorporate into her daily nosh sessions.
In addition to providing much-needed calcium for both mom and baby, Greek yogurt is a must-eat by all pregnant women, containing more than twice the protein and far less sugar than regular yogurt.
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt = 130 calories
Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in baby’s brain development. Flaxseed is one of the easiest ways to add this essential fat to your pregnancy diet. Simply sprinkle two tablespoons of it into Greek yogurt. For extra flavor, add blueberries, chopped apple or mandarin oranges, with a dash of cinnamon.
1 tablespoon ground flax = 35 calories
This protein and calcium-rich snack eaten with some whole wheat crackers makes a great, healthy treat for sensitive or easily nauseated pregnant tummies.
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese = 160 calories
Full of the critical nutrient folic acid, which is essential in helping prevent neural tube birth defects, orange juice and oranges are a key snack in pregnancy. Oranges deliver a high dose of vitamin C to support your immune system, and also contain potassium, which can lower blood pressure which is particularly important during pregnancy. Calcium-fortified juice versions deliver even more nutritional benefits.
1 medium orange = 65 calories
Full of iron, fiber and folate, lentils are a pregnant woman’s “wonder bean.” They also keep body systems moving, helping avoid constipation and pregnancy hemorrhoids. Eat lentil soup for a quick, portable meal that requires virtually no prep time. (Throw in some diced tomatoes for an extra dose of vitamin C and lycopene.)
1/2 cup cooked lentils = 115 calories
For a healthy dose of folic acid, vitamin A and calcium, add a (washed) handful of spinach to a sandwich. Or toss spinach with almonds, grapes and light dressing for a healthy mid-afternoon snack.
1 cup cooked spinach = 40 calories
In addition to nutritious foods, calorie-free water is critical for pregnant women. It not only keeps you healthy and hydrated, but serves as a necessary substitute for high-sugar drinks that only deliver extra calories and can raise your risk of insulin resistance during pregnancy.