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The Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

by April Khan

About April Khan

April Khan is a medical journalist who began writing in 2005. She has contributed to publications such as "BBC Focus." In 2012, Khan received her Doctor of Public Health from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She also holds an Associate of Arts from the Art Institute of Dallas and a Master of Science in international health from University College London.

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It is vital to eat a balanced diet during pregnancy. This is because the foods you eat provide the nutrients your growing baby needs for proper development. While there are no miracle foods that provide enough nutrients to eliminate the need for prenatal vitamins, eating a balanced diet will help you get each of the nutrients you and your baby need.

Grains

Grains provide a healthy source of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates become glucose, which your body uses as fuel. The recommended daily value for pregnant women is six to nine servings a day. These whole grains should be in the form of whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat pasta or grains such as barley. Stay away from refined carbohydrates, such as those found white bread, white pasta and packaged baked goods.

Dairy Products

Pregnant women should eat four or more portions of dairy products per day. The calcium contained in dairy products will help build your baby's teeth and bones, according to the American Pregnancy Association. When possible, try to choose dairy products that are low in fat and drink milk that is either low-fat or skim. If you are lactose intolerant, you can gain your calcium from drinking orange juice that has been fortified. Additional sources of calcium include yogurt, cheese and leafy green vegetables.

Increase Your Protein Intake

It's important to eat plenty of protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans because protein helps your baby's cells, tissues and muscles develop. Protein foods also contain B-complex vitamins and iron, which are all crucial to your baby's development, especially in the second and third trimester. Aim to eat two or more portions of protein a day. In addition to meat, eggs and beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and tofu also supply a good dose of protein.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fiber found in fruits and vegetables will help to regulate your digestion, and the vitamin C found in them will help you to absorb iron. Dark green leafy vegetables contain folate, which can reduce the risk of certain birth defects, as well as iron, which is crucual for the formation of red blood cells. Fruits and vegetables also supply additional nutrients necessary during pregnancy, including potassium and vitamin A.

Supplements

Women who follow strict vegan diets may want to take supplements to provide them with adequate amounts of protein or other minerals. However, some supplements can be dangerous to your baby, so it is best to ask your physician before using any type of supplement.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.