Pregnancy diet
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy diet is so important. If you’re already a healthy person, maybe you’re thinking, What’s the big deal? My pregnancy diet plan is going to be the same as my regular diet. Well, that may be true, but it’s important to be sure that you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals now that you’re eating for two, as well as avoiding foods that aren’t safe to eat during pregnancy.

Because here’s the thing: A healthy pregnancy diet can mean the difference between a smooth pregnancy and gestational diabetes. As a rule of thumb, keep your diet as green as possible, avoiding processed ingredients and sugar. Check out the list below and start writing your next grocery list!

1. Protein
Protein helps with the growth of fetal tissue, as well as helping your body as it grows during pregnancy. Women need roughly 75g of protein in their daily pregnancy diet. The easiest source to incorporate into your diet is lean meats (3oz of chicken provide about 23g protein; 1 egg is 6g protein), although vegetarians can find protein in cottage cheese (1 cup provides 25g protein), beans (it varies, but 1/2 cup black beans is roughly 19g protein), or peanut butter (2tbsp can get you 8g protein).

2. Folate
Folate (or folic acid, a synthetic form of vitamin B9), is important for your baby’s development. Although your prenatal vitamin contains folic acid, it is a good idea to add foods containing folate to your diet to decrease the chances of neural tube defects and low birth weight. Eat lots of legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, peas, black beans, and soybeans. A cup of any of these legumes can be added to a salad at lunch, a hearty soup, or homemade hummus.

3. Calcium
Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, and you’ll need plenty while you’re baby is growing her bones (doctors recommend 1,000 mg per day). Breakfast is a great time to get in more of this crucial mineral. Try Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola. String cheese makes a great, calcium-packed on-the-go snack, too.

4. Omega 3 fatty acids
Pregnant mamas need these “good fats,” especially DHA, for building baby’s brain and eyes. An obvious choice is salmon (also a natural source of vitamin D, which balances calcium levels in your body), although fish like mackerel, trout, and sardines are also high in omega-3s. Due to mercury levels and pollutants, pregnant women often avoid fatty fish altogether, however, the FDA recommends 2 servings (6oz each) of fish per week will limit adverse fetal exposure and provide roughly 200mg of DHA per day. If you are not comfortable with the risks, or eating fish, try a fish oil capsule.

5. Vitamins
Leafy greens and broccoli are major powerhouses in the nutrition department, and provide vitamin A, C, and K, as well as iron, fiber, calcium, and potassium. Dark veggies are great for the immune and digestive systems, and are rich in antioxidants. Add things like bok choy, spinach, collard greens, lentils, kale, and broccoli into a stir fry, salad, or soup.

In addition to eating a healthy pregnancy diet, there are several foods you should avoid. Get the complete list.

It’s easy to come up with pregnancy diet dos and don’ts, but we all know life gets in the way sometimes. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble incorporating any of these major food groups (due to nausea or dietary restrictions, for example), and see if there are supplements that can help keep you and your baby healthy.

Photo: Getty