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Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

If there’s one topic where everyone seems to have a different opinion, it’s around the subject of health. It can be very difficult to get a straight answer on what we should and shouldn’t eat. First, we hear about a study showing something is bad for us. The next day, another study comes back that it’s good for us. It can make it very hard to know truth from trumped up.

The stakes, and often the confusion, are even higher when you become pregnant. The one thing that all studies agree on is: what a woman eats when she’s pregnant is very important for both her health and her baby’s.

So, if you’re pregnant, and are wondering what should you eat or what you should avoid we’ve got you covered. Here are a few things that are universally important for all pregnant women to include in their daily diets.

Water

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    It may seem like common sense, but many people forget how important it is to include water in their diets. In a world that runs on sugary drinks, teas, and coffees we sometimes forget that water is a huge part of our make up. We need to replace it throughout the day to stay healthy.

    If you’re pregnant, getting eight full glasses of water per day is even more crucial for your health. Your body is doing a lot of changing and adapting to grow a new life. Make sure you stay hydrated with pure water.

    If you find pure water too boring, you can also add lemon, lime, fresh cucumber, or fruit into your water to give it an extra kick. Keep a 16-oz water bottle with you to remind yourself to keep drinking. Fill it up at least four times throughout the day.

    Fresh Fruits and Veggies

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      This should come as no surprise to anyone. All studies tell us that getting enough fresh, whole fruits and vegetables in our diet keeps us healthier. Pregnant women should strive to get at least five servings per day from this food-group. Try to get a rainbow of colors on your plate to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals possible.

      Orange Vegetables

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        Make sure to include one serving of an orange vegetable per day within the recommend five overall servings. Some good choices are carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes. The orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in your body.

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        While there are warnings about consuming too much Vitamin A during pregnancy, this is not a concern with beta-carotene. Your body will only convert what you need. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. It helps protect your body against free radicals and ensures your immune system is strong.

        To make sure that you get enough orange veggies, keep a bag of carrots next to you to snack on. You can also cook squash or sweet potatoes in your oven and eat them as a healthy side dish.

        Dark Green Vegetables

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          Out of the five overall fruit and veggie servings, you need to eat at least two servings of dark leafy vegetables per day during your pregnancy. When it comes to greens, the darker the color the better. Some nutritionally dense veggies portraying the darker green color are kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens. These power foods contain calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium, and again beta-carotene — the superstar phytochemical that is vital to your baby’s skin, bones, eyes, and cell growth.

          Try to eat these leafy green veggies both raw and cooked. You can throw all of your greens into a fresh salad and add extra color – or nutrients – by throwing in a rainbow of bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries. You can also sauté these greens lightly for a hearty side dish. Kale also can be dried in the oven to make yummy kale chips – which is a healthier alternative to potato chips.

          Citrus Fruit

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            Make sure to include citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit in your diet. While these fruits provide many important nutrients, the most important one is Vitamin C. This vitamin helps with the immunity of both mom and baby.

            Try to eat at least one serving of citrus fruit per day. You can start your day with a grapefruit or peel an orange as a midday snack. Try to choose the fruit over the juice, as the added fiber will help slow the absorption rate of the fruit sugars into the blood stream and avoid a sugar spike. Gestational diabetes also occurs in about 18% of all pregnancies. For these ladies, it’s crucial to keep their blood sugar stable. The extra fiber found in the fruit also helps with digestion.

            Whole Grains

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              Most dietitians also recommend six servings of enriched whole grains and cereals per day. Make sure you eat whole grains, not refined grains. The nutritional difference is night and day!

              Some good whole grains to work into your diet are oats, whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and rice. These foods contain B vitamins (like B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin), which are necessary for just about every part of your growing baby’s body. They are also packed with iron, selenium, and magnesium. Grains supply energy for your baby’s development. They also contain nutrients that help build the placenta.

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              Most grains also have plenty of fiber. Fiber is your new best friend when you’re pregnant. It helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which can become more common during pregnancy.

              Grains are fairly easy to add into your diet. You can eat a cup of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with fruit. You can add whole-grain pasta to your dinner, or even have a couple slices of whole-grain bread to surround a healthy sandwich full of fresh veggies and avocado for some healthy fats.

              Dairy

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                Many doctors also recommend that pregnant women get at least three servings of dairy products to provide calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein. Your baby needs these nutrients to develop teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, and a healthy heart. They also help your baby’s blood clot.

                Some healthy choices to include in your diet are cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and some grass-fed butter spread on those yummy veggies.

                Protein

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                  Protein is a vital building block for both your body and your baby. Not getting enough protein can contribute to low birth weight. You should aim to get three servings of healthy protein per day.

                  Some great choices are lean meats, eggs, low mercury fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition to protein, fish provides an important Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA. This is crucial for the brain development of your little one.

                  You can eat lean meats in sandwiches or as your main dinner course, along with fish. Eggs can be hard-boiled for easy access later and used in salads or as a quick snack. Legumes are also a great choice in salads and sides. You can eat nuts and seeds as a snack, or enjoy fresh nut butters on whole wheat bread.

                  Supplements

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                    While it’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally in your food, this doesn’t always happen. It’s a good idea to supplement your diet with critical prenatal vitamins such as omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D.

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                    What Foods Should Pregnant Women Avoid?

                    The foods that women should avoid when pregnant are often foods anyone else should also avoid to remain healthy. The stakes are just raised a bit higher when a baby’s development is tied to the mother’s dietary choices.

                    Junk Foods

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                      In general, highly processed junk foods should be avoided. If you can’t identify half of the ingredients on the nutrition label, it’s probably best to leave it alone. You and your baby don’t need all the excess salt, preservatives, and additives. However, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be a fast food. You don’t need that drive-through! After all, it’s just as easy and fast to grab an apple instead of an order of fries.

                      Sugar

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                        You should also watch your intake of sugar, as well as avoid soft drinks and other sweets during pregnancy. Too much sugar in your diet not only puts you at risk for insulin issues and gestational diabetes, it can also cause your immune system to weaken. Sugar actually inhibits phagocytosis, which is the immune system’s response to eliminating germs in the body that can make you sick.

                        Under-cooked Meat

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                          Now is not the time to have a rare steak or a slice of sushi. The bacteria that can sometimes be found in under-cooked meat can cause contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

                          Even though they are cooked, it is also best to avoid deli meats. They can be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you must eat any hot dogs or packaged meats, you should cook them until they are steaming to kill the bacteria.

                          Fish High in Mercury

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                            Unfortunately, our oceans have become polluted. When larger fish ingest smaller fish, this level of pollution becomes much more concentrated within their meat. The biggest concern is the level of mercury found in these fish.

                            The top offenders with higher mercury loads are swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile-fish. Tuna may also be on this list depending on your source. The general rule of thumb is: the smaller the fish, the cleaner the meat.

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                            Unwashed Fruits and Veggies

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                              Make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides. If possible, buy organic to avoid contaminates found on commercially-grown produce.

                              Avoid raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. You can eat them, just cook them thoroughly first to avoid bacteria.

                              Limit Caffeine

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                                Caffeine has been shown to cross the placenta and affect your baby. Some studies suggest that caffeine may play a role in miscarriages; however, this risk is only seen after more than two cups of coffee per day. Many women avoid it all together to stay safe. However, if you just can’t function without that morning cup of coffee, you are probably okay as long as you limit it to 200 milligrams per day.

                                Avoid Alcohol

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                                  This point isn’t really up for much debate. No level of alcohol has been shown to be safe for your baby. Women who drink during pregnancy have higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even moderate drinking can impact your child’s brain development. Finally, too much alcohol during pregnancy results in fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart defects, and mental issues.

                                  Your Choices Matter

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                                    Being pregnant is a very special time in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time where her choices affect the life of another. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a healthy baby is to offer every chance possible to start out well in this life.

                                    In fact, scientists are now studying a mother’s diet during pregnancy and its affect on epigenetics. Recently, an entire new field of nutrigenomics has been created to study the effect of diet on gene expression. While it’s not within the scope of this article, scientists are discovering that the nutrients a baby receives while developing and in early infancy can alter their very DNA structure. This further shows the importance of diet in not only helping to prevent illness, but also in shaping a future life at the cellular level.

                                    With new studies coming out all the time, some things remain constant. Eating fresh, whole foods has worked for centuries. If we continue to eat food found in its natural form, unaltered for the convenience of shelf life, presentation, profitability, sales growth, or higher yield returns, our kids should turn out alright.

                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                    Published on September 20, 2018

                                    12 Tips for Parenting the Strong Willed Child in a Compassionate Way

                                    12 Tips for Parenting the Strong Willed Child in a Compassionate Way

                                    How do you know if you have a strong willed child? You just know. Nobody had to tell you and you didn’t have to analyze your child to determine if they were strong willed.

                                    Their personality is so strong that there is no guessing that they have a strong will. This type of personality is especially challenging to parents because it is difficult to parent someone who already has their mind made up about just about everything in life.

                                    If channeled in the right direction and you don’t break your child’s spirit along the way, you can have a kid who is destined for epic things in life. Strong willed children are often highly self-motivated, so they are go-getters from a young age.

                                    Help your child become the best person they can be by parenting your strong willed child appropriately, so their spirit is not broken.

                                    Below are tips on parenting the strong willed child:

                                    1. Don’t make yourself the enemy

                                    Don’t make yourself the enemy by making it your way or the highway. Being a dictator as a parent will only drive your child away from you and make you the enemy.

                                    Some parents want their strong willed child to listen and obey above all else, so they become forcefully strict in their parenting. They think that they need to act dominating and forceful in order to gain obedience from their child.

                                    This is not helpful for the strong willed child. This will make you out to be the enemy because the perception is that you want your way and you are against their way.

                                    It becomes a battle of wills; yours versus theirs. This obviously isn’t your goal as a parent; which is why you need to practice authoritative parenting methods.

                                    Authoritarian vs. Authoritative Parenting

                                    Parents should try to be authoritative parents of their strong willed child.

                                    Authoritarian parenting methods should be avoided, as this type of parenting is a dictatorship with parents trying to exert their will over their children. Authoritarian parenting is especially not helpful with strong willed children.

                                    Conversely, authoritative parenting methods are very effective with strong willed children. Parents who utilize authoritative methods have clear rules, are loving, consistent, while also placing value on their child’s bests interests.

                                    At the end of the day, their goal is to do what is in the best interest of their child. Rules for one child are not the same for another within an authoritative home.

                                    They see each child as an individual. They have rules, but rather than always seeing everything as black and white, which would be the case with an authoritative parent, they are willing to listen to their child regarding the situation at hand and determine the course of action in each case.

                                    The rules are not there to simply be enforced. Rather, the authoritative parent sees the rules as guidelines to the end goal of raising healthy, happy, morally sound individuals.

                                    Seeing the rules as guidelines provides some flexibility.

                                    For example, if you have a rule that your child’s bedtime is at 8:00 PM bedtime and your strong willed child wants to stay up until 9:00 PM because they want to watch the Miss America Pageant, then you take the time to listen their reasons and a discussion takes place.

                                    Your child explains that they want to watch the talent portion of the competition because they have a goal to someday be in this pageant and they want to see what kind of talent is needed to get to the Miss America level.

                                    Rather than being an enforcer of the rules, for the sake of the rules, you begin to understand that they are wanting to watch because they have a goal and dream that they want to pursue.

                                    You allow a one hour flexibility in this case, but make an agreement that anything beyond that hour will have to be recorded. You also include in the agreement that if there is any complaining or arguing when the hour is up, then the show will not be recorded at all.

                                    Creating clear boundaries, but also taking into consideration their desires, dreams, and goals (within reason) will help you make better decisions that aren’t black and white all of the time.

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                                    The example above helps to create responsibility for the child with expectations, allowing them to not simply “have their way”, but to create an environment where they are treated with love and consideration.

                                    Their hopes and dreams should not be squashed or minimalized. Your strong willed child may have great dreams and you don’t want to send the message that their dreams don’t matter because the 8:00 bedtime is more important.

                                    2. They need to make choices: Offer them options

                                    Love and Logic parenting methods can work quite well with strong willed children. This parenting method emphasizes offering options to children.

                                    How it works is that from even the youngest of age, a child will be offered two choices for most daily decisions. This allows the strong willed child to be the decision maker for themselves.

                                    Strong willed children want to feel in control of their decisions and will. Allowing for decisions throughout the day, even on the most basic level, puts the decision making in the hands of the child.

                                    This is obviously within reason though. Parents provide the options, so they should be options that are win-win for the situation.

                                    For example, at lunch time you can offer your child a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or macaroni and cheese. These are both options that you don’t mind making, yet it leaves a decision for the child. This helps the child feel empowered, because they are in control of decision making.

                                    What if you went to a restaurant every day and there was only one option and no choice to be made? That could make it feel like prison day in and day out.

                                    Your child’s home environment can feel the same way to them. Are they being told what to do all day long or are they being allowed to make decisions on what they want throughout the day?

                                    Making it a point to allow decisions, with two options (that are both win-win options), you are helping your strong willed child to not only feel empowered, but you are also helping to develop a positive relationships with them.

                                    You don’t want your child to feel like they are being raised in a prison, so allow them to make decisions daily.

                                    You will have a better relationship with your child when you allow them to make these daily decisions because you are sending the message that their thoughts and opinions matter.

                                    3. Instill morals: Don’t force your views

                                    Strong willed children become determined adult. If you want your children to have good morals and character as adults, then you need to help guide them by your example.

                                    You can’t force a strong willed child to believe what you believe. However, if you live a virtuous life, then you are providing a great example.

                                    You are their number one role model as a parent. Their morals are shaped in the home.

                                    If you want your strong willed child to have good morals, then practice what you preach. If you talk about not cheating and stealing and then your child overhears you at the dinner table talking about cheating on your taxes, you are not being a good example.

                                    Teach your strong willed child to live a virtuous life by how you act. Be the example you want them to follow.

                                    Have conversations with your strong willed child about their morals and character. Having these discussions will help them determine what kind of person they want to become.

                                    Allow them to digest the important role that morality and good character play in their future. This will help shape their behavior because you are shaping their mind.

                                    4. Keep in mind that they learn from experience

                                    One reason that strong willed children appear to not listen to their parents is because they learn primarily through personal experience.

                                    They learn from their first hand experience, rather than taking someone’s word on it, and therefore they test limits and boundaries.

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                                    A parent can say repeatedly “don’t touch the stove because it is hot”. The strong willed child will inevitably touch the stove for a millisecond to see for themselves that it is hot.

                                    They learn from their experiences and tend to test parental advice rather than just listen to the advice provided.

                                    They are listening though. They will likely challenge parental advice by seeing for themselves whether the advice has substance.

                                    Because strong willed children learn from experience, safety is of utmost importance when they are young. These children can be highly determined to do things on their own.

                                    You don’t want them falling down stairs or touching hot stoves, so protect them when they are young and don’t know any better. As they grow, they become smarter about their safety.

                                    A strong willed child needs extra safety measures when they are young because of their determined spirit.

                                    5. Listen to their reasons

                                    Strong willed children usually have a reason behind their behavior. Allow the opportunity for them to explain themselves before you disagree with their decisions at face value.

                                    Ask them “why” when things don’t make sense to you. Kids are not always logical, but the strong willed child usually has a reason behind their decisions and it is not just to defy you as the parent.

                                    Allow them the opportunity to explain themselves, so you can better understand them and their decisions.

                                    For example, your strong willed child may be refusing to wear the outfit that you laid out for them to wear to school. You lay out their outfit to make the morning routine go more smoothly and quickly. Their obstinance is not a welcomed part of the routine.

                                    Rather than get angry and order them to put the outfit on, ask them why they don’t want to wear it.

                                    To your surprise, there may be a logical explanation such as it is gym day and they need to wear clothing and shoes that are fitting for the activities.

                                    Get to the bottom of the reason, so you can better understand their logic. Don’t assume that their refusal to follow the rules or routine is out of sheer disobedience.

                                    Let their voice be heard, so they know that you are listening and you want to understand their reasons.

                                    6. They need to know why

                                    Strong willed children need to know the reasons behind a request. If you are asking them to stop jumping on the bed, your request for their obedience needs to be explained.

                                    They have a strong will, which also means a strong need to understand the “why” behind things.

                                    Explain to your child jumping on the bed that you don’t want them to get hurt or break a bone, like you did when you are kid.

                                    Let them know that you are concerned about their safety and whatever other reasons you have behind the rule, so that they can understand your logic.

                                    They don’t take rules at face value. They need to know the “why”, so be prepared to explain your reasons for your rules. The consequences should also be clearly explained.

                                    That way, they know the logical reasons behind the rules and the consequences if the rules are not followed.

                                    7. Use empathy and compassion

                                    Strong willed kids need empathy, compassion, and respect. This can be difficult because strong willed children can appear obstinate and disobedient.

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                                    Parents have to understand that their child is not doing things for the sake of disobedience, rather the child has a strong will and determined spirit.

                                    They have reasons behind what they do and why they do it. It takes extra compassion and empathy to seek understanding the child and why they do what they do.

                                    For example, on a morning when you are already running late and your child is refusing to put on their shoes and you yell at them to put on their shoes now or you are leaving without them is lacking in compassion.

                                    They may not want to wear those specific shoes because they are too tight. If you don’t take the time to ask them “why”, then compassion is lacking.

                                    Take the time to talk to your child empathetically. This means a true desire to listen to them and their reasons. If they are not feeling listened to, then they will feel that you don’t care.

                                    Listen with your full attention. This means stopping what you are doing and set electronics to the side while you communicate with your child.

                                    Also, try to use a calm and loving tone when asking them their “why” and listen to their response. If you don’t listen to them, then who will?

                                    If the child feels that they are not being heard or are being treated unfairly, their emotions will likely turn into behavioral issues.

                                    Allow them to express themselves verbally, so that they don’t resort to physical expressions of their emotions, such as meltdowns, hitting others, or throwing things.

                                    8. Repeated bad behavior is often a message

                                    Strong willed children will often repeat themselves until they feel heard. This can also true with their bad behavior. They are often trying to communicate something to you because they are not feeling heard.

                                    For example, that melt down in the store because you are ignoring their demands? Is it because they think that the melt down will get what they want or is it because they aren’t feeling heard?

                                    When they ask a question, answer them and provide your reasons why. Don’t ignore them and hope they will stop asking. The strong willed child will not stop. They will escalate to the next level until they feel that they are being heard.

                                    It doesn’t mean that they always get what they want. Instead, your goal should be to communicate that they have been heard and they are respectfully answered.

                                    Yelling at them “no, because I am the Mom” is not a good approach when parenting a strong willed child. Instead answering with “no, we haven’t had lunch yet, but you can have a dessert after dinner if you a well behaved today”, will more likely result in good behavior.

                                    The child feels that you listened to them and furthermore, you understood that their desire was for something sweet. Explaining that they can have something sweet later, as a result of their good behavior, puts the ball back in their court.

                                    They now have the decision to be well behaved to get what they want later, or they can have a melt down which will result in the consequence of no dessert after dinner.

                                    Children who are strong willed require more time because you need to listen more, explain more, discuss more, and respect more. It is a not an easy road.

                                    However, the strong willed child can be a great success in life when their energies are channeled appropriately because things are clearly communicated. This communication is a two way street.

                                    Don’t ignore their words until it escalates to bad behavior. If the behavior is seemingly out of control, then you need to help them verbalize their desires.

                                    They are communicating something through their behavior. You need to help channel the behavior back into meaningful verbalization in order to figure out what they want and determine how to resolve the situation.

                                    10. Weather the storm

                                    It is not easy parenting a strong willed child. You will likely endure many storms while parenting your child.

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                                    Keep doing what is in the best interest of your child, keep listening to them, and keep loving them.

                                    Don’t be defeated by the storms which can come as temper tantrums, bad behavior, and rebellion. Know that they will pass.

                                    Know that you are not alone. There are parents out there also dealing with strong willed children.

                                    If you are feeling overwhelmed, then its time to reach out for help. A counselor or therapist can help both you and the child. You can also find support groups on Facebook. Use the search term “strong willed child”.

                                    Don’t go at it alone. Find support now so you can weather the next storm even better.

                                    11. Embrace their strong will — It can make them successful

                                    Strong willed children are determined individuals. If their spirit is not squashed, they can use that determination to become successful people as adults.

                                    Parents obviously need to protect their children from harm, but the smaller issues should be let go.

                                    Learn to differentiate between issues that matter and those that really don’t matter in the long run. Does it really matter if they wear mismatched socks to school? No, if that is what they want, then let it be.

                                    Allow them to make some decisions, especially about their own body, without making an issue out of it.

                                    You don’t want to break their spirit because someday that spirit is what will make them stand out in the world. They are their own person, with unique ideas, and a determined spirit that will help them become successful in life.

                                    They are more likely to persevere through difficulties because of their determined spirit. Don’t break this spirit at a young age by demanding obedience for the sake of obedience.

                                    Take the time to understand your child, their reasons, and allow them to make choices along the way.

                                    12. Motivate them!

                                    Strong willed children tend to be highly self motivated. This means that when they decide, they want to do something they really go for it.

                                    Provide motivation for your child by providing incentives. Strong willed children can be motivated with the use of a reward system.

                                    The use of the “CHART method”[1] I developed can be especially helpful in parenting strong willed children. I have a strong willed six year old and this system is working great for her! Here is the article I wrote on the CHART method, so other parents can use this system as well.

                                    Final thoughts

                                    Having a strong willed child can be very challenging for a parent. If parents take the time to parent their strong willed child the right way, then this child can become a great success in life.

                                    Strong willed children are not acting the way they do out of disobedience. It is their inner determined spirit that makes them want to do thing their own way.

                                    They are highly motivated individuals and when that energy is channeled correctly, with their will in mind, then they can accomplish just about anything!

                                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

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