While a healthy diet is always important, when you’re pregnant, and eating for two, it becomes doubly important. In reality, pregnant women only need to add about 300 calories to their diet -- good calories, not ice cream and pickles. Eating well and healthy can provide a ton of benefits for both infant and mother. Here’s a look at the benefits of watching your diet during pregnancy.
1. A balanced diet helps provide the nutrients your little one needs.
While your baby is developing in the womb, they’re going to need a whole bunch of different vitamins and minerals to grow strong. Folic acid, found in green vegetables, is an especially important nutrient in the early months for preventing neural tube defects. Iron and DHA (a fatty acid) are important for brain development, and zinc is critical for cell growth (in fact, too little may be linked to early miscarriage). Calcium, vitamin D, protein, and several other vitamins the human body requires are also vital to a healthy baby.
2. Healthy choices during pregnancy are also essential for mom.
Maternal health is just as important as fetal health. When you’re pregnant, your body ships nutrients off to the baby first, and you get what’s left over. Making sure to eat a variety of produce, lean meats (poultry and freshwater fish), dairy products (cheese, milk, and yogurt), and whole grains is a great way to get all the different vitamins and minerals your body requires. Coupled with supplementary prenatal vitamins, both you and baby get everything you need.
3. A good diet means more energy.
Many women find the hardest part of pregnancy is the frequent fatigue that accompanies it. Although eating healthy foods helps give you more energy in general, good protein and carbohydrate (i.e. whole wheat bread) sources provide an extra boost. You’ll appreciate that energy not just during your pregnancy, but throughout the first weeks of your newborn’s life. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated can also help.
4. Eating well now makes it easier to get fit later.
A healthy diet takes a lot of commitment, and it can be hard to eat well when it’s just for you. For some women, pregnancy provides that extra little push of motivation. Eating well now can help you drop that post-delivery baby weight more easily than a diet built on cake and macaroni. After nine months of healthy eating, the habit will become easier to maintain.
5. Healthy eating may help with morning sickness, too.
Morning sickness is quite common among pregnant women. It’s not only an uncomfortable nuisance, but can also make maintaining a good diet difficult. Some experts suggest morning sickness is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, but many women find their morning sickness gets worse when they don’t eat well. Additionally, prenatal vitamins can increase nausea. Something light and bland, like a glass of milk, bowl of rice, or piece of toast, can help your stomach to process. This may calm your stomach so you can eat more, healthier food. Alternatively, try eating several small meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones.