Choosing what to eat while you’re pregnant can be a challenge. At this stage, eating healthy isn’t just about eating the right things, it also involves the foods to avoid and maintaining optimal health for you and your little one.
As an Acupuncture Physician specializing in women’s health, fertility and pregnancy, I am here to share with you my top pregnancy supporting foods, nutritional guidelines, and the most important nutrient to have in your diet during pregnancy, and how to make sure you’re getting enough of it.
Nutrition in Chinese medicine is considered one of the most essential parts that gives the woman’s body postnatal energy and strengthens the prenatal energy of the embryo that develops in a womb. In the first months of life, the embryo builds its physical body, the limbs, and its many cells. The healthier, more varied, richer and cleaner the diet is, the fetus body with all its parts will enjoy those essential nutrients, and the fetus will develop smarter and more developed.
Both Western and Chinese Medicine refers to the period of pregnancy as a critical period for the proper development of the immune system of the fetus, protection of the fetus, and as a period that gives the fetus its future ability to become a healthy and strong person, with good longevity.
In Chinese medicine we focus on eating warm well-cooked, easy to digest foods while avoiding cold raw foods helps to keep the digestion working properly which in turn will help to keep the uterus warm is paramount during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, it is very important not to “start a diet”, but to eat from all the food groups in a balanced and varied way.
Try to achieve a healthy balance of nourishing foods including:
- Lean meat or fish making sure to avoid farmed fish selections and choosing only wild caught to reduce the risk of mercury poisoning
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits and dark green vegetables, which contain folic acid
- Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, grains, potatoes, and cereals
- Milk and other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese noting any food sensitivities and avoiding cow’s milk when appropriate (there’s tons of delicious non-dairy milk to choose from!)
- Plenty of water, as pregnancy can cause dehydration easily
A note on the importance of organic foods. It is very important to try to eat organic foods – especially vegetables, fruits, and organic meats, to keep your body clean of many toxins and excess hormones that may affect your natural hormonal balance and that you would not want that to affect you during pregnancy.
It is also important to eat cooked food, steamed, lightly stirred in olive oil and the main thing is not to eat fried, processed, or smoked food.
TOP FOODS FOR PREGNANCY
As we mentioned above, eat a diet mainly of cooked easy to digest foods. Avoid cold food & drinks. This is the single most important recommendation I have for all my pregnant mothers!
- Try to eat protein with most of your meals! Every single one of your baby’s tissues depends on protein for healthy growth: bones, muscles, skin, blood, hair, nails, organs, and connective tissue. It is the single most important macronutrient to include during this most precious time.
- Eat meat, fish (my personal favorite is salmon), poultry, lamb and eggs. If you’re vegetarian, consider adding some kind of animal protein in your diet such as bone broth or fish oil (comes in capsules).
- Bone Broth – chicken/beef. This is excellent in nourishing blood, benefiting digestion & the immune system.
- Avocados, dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, nuts (especially walnuts), spinach
- Congee: nourishes the spleen. Is a great breakfast meal but can be also eaten all day long in small amounts to keep the mother staying nourished through the entire day. There are tons of delicious recipes online!
- Sweet potatoes and yams
- Goji Berries
- Eat a warm breakfast high in protein & low in sugar
- Radishes high in folic acid & help prevent anemia
- Sesame seeds & black sesame seeds
- Sip on ginger tea throughout the day if you’re battling morning sickness
A note on protein and hitting macros: You’ll want to make sure you’re getting between 60-75 grams of protein per day during your pregnancy. A symptom of too much protein can be difficult digestion, so adjust the amount according to your body’s needs. Good protein sources include: animal protein (buffalo, chicken, clean seafood, sardines, lamb), yogurt, eggs, cheese, beans (black, kidney, garbanzo, white), lentils, soy, and quinoa.
OTHER TIPS FOR PREGNANCY SUPPORT
- Add regular acupuncture treatments to help alleviate the discomforts of pregnancy safely, support a healthy pregnancy and prepare for your baby’s arrival. Read more on the benefits of Prenatal Acupuncture here
- Keep your lower back and soles of feet warm, and lower abdomen covered
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid excessive exercise in the first trimester, especially if you have miscarried in the past. Avoid excessive sweating.
- Drink plenty of water as pregnancy can be dehydrating
- Try to be happy, joyful and stress-free as much as you can during your pregnancy.
If you live in the Jacksonville area and are looking to optimize you pregnancy, reduce pregnant related discomforts, turn a breech presented baby naturally or prepare for an easier labor we’re here to help! Call our office at (904) 448-0046 to schedule a consultation with our practitioner now.
Start today. Feel better tomorrow.