1. Both nutritional needs and intestinal function change.
2. Body cravings change but you must match all cravings with your knowledge of good nutrition.
3. Portion sizes change. You are likely to want to eat lighter, smaller portions more slowly, and more frequently. There will be days when you graze like a toddler, snacking all day long. Sometimes you’ll satisfy the “always hungry” feeling by eating all the time.
4. Your calorie needs change. You will need to eat an extra 300-500 calories per day to ensure adequate nutrition for both of you.
5. Your pregnant body needs specific nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals (mainly calcium and iron), and water. “Balancing” your nutrition during pregnancy means trying to get the right mix of these nutrients: 15% of your calories from proteins, 50-60% from carbohydrates, and 20-30% from fats, plus the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals.
6. Your need for fats changes. The pregnant body needs fats. Besides being a valuable source of energy, certain fats (called essential fatty acids) are necessary building blocks of vital tissues, especially the brain and nervous system. However, all fats are not created equal. Best nutrition is found in the fats of fish, nuts, avocados, and all vegetable oils. Less healthy, but still necessary, fats are found in dairy products. Least healthy and least necessary fats are those that come from meat.
7. Your need for cholesterol changes. Your pregnant body and your developing baby need extra cholesterol. Growing little brains need cholesterol. Cholesterol is also a building block for pregnancy hormones. Pregnancy hormones make and metabolize cholesterol anyway, so it’s natural for cholesterol levels to increase during pregnancy.
8. Your protein needs change. Proteins are the structural element of your body and the body of your growing baby. Your baby’s tissues and organs grow by piling up millions of proteins on top of each other until each organ has reached full growth. Try these food combinations to get complete proteins:
- Cheese sandwich (whole grain and dairy)
- Cereal and milk (grain and dairy)
- Whole wheat pasta and cheese (whole grain and dairy)
- Peanut-butter sandwich (whole grain and legume)
- Granola and yogurt (grain and dairy)
- Bean or lentil soup with whole wheat or rice crackers (legume and whole grain)
- Rice pudding (grain and dairy)
- Beans and rice (legume and grain)
- Pasta with meat sauce (grain and meat)
- Broccoli in cheese sauce (grain and dairy with some veggie protein mixed in)
9. Your carbohydrate needs change. Best sources of complex carbohydrates are: pasta, potatoes, grains, legumes, nut butters, and seeds. The time-released complex carbohydrates along with fructose and lactose provide slow, steady energy and give the feeling of fullness longer, resulting in steadier blood sugar levels and a greater overall feeling of well being.
10. Your iron needs change. Iron is necessary to make the extra blood you need to nourish your baby and to make the billions of red blood cells the baby needs. Insufficient iron (anemia) or “tired blood” makes for a tired mom. Most women need to double the amount of iron in their diet when they’re pregnant, taking in at least 60 milligrams of elemental iron each day, more if anemic or carrying multiples. It is nearly impossible to consume enough dietary iron while pregnant without eating excess calories. If iron upsets your already upset stomach, ask your doctor if you can safely delay taking iron supplements until after your morning sickness subsides, since the greatest demand for iron is in the second half of your pregnancy.