Written by Amy Guthrie – Tom Landry Mama
When I first became pregnant with my twins I ran, not walked, to see a nutritionist at the Cooper Clinic. I wanted to know what I needed to eat to fuel my strength, avoid gestational diabetes, and maintain a healthy weight gain. The wellness and nutrition dynamics of a healthy pregnancy are often the first questions every mother asks. Not only are you nourishing and nurturing yourself, but for your unborn child as well. Being pregnant is not a pass for eating whatever you want!
While I appreciated the guidelines of the nutritionist, I had to alter it for my dietary needs (no dairy, no gluten).
It’s well known that our body’s overall nutrition is 80% diet, and 20% exercise. But when we are pregnant, it’s important to find and make eating options that can sustain us daily – that won’t always mean we have access to the best options.
Further, research has shown that what we choose to eat during pregnancy may affect what our babies have a taste for after they are delivered. In one example, a mother who juices during pregnancy showed that her baby accepted vegetables willingly, and her child, of now 5 years, prefers broccoli to sweets. *NOTE: Do not buy unpasteurized juices from a store during pregnancy!
Healthy Pregnancy Approach
You’ll want to eat around 2500 calories per day, 2800 if you are carrying multiples. It’s important not to focus on calories though. Macronutrients are what are key: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. If we consume the right macronutrients, then we feed our body micronutrients: vitamins, minerals, and health. We want to avoid sugar, transfats, and processed foods.
Daily Macronutrient Recommendation:
Carbohydrates = 250g
Protein = 150g
Fat = 60g
Not all carbs are created equal. Avoid simple carbs, such as sugar, wheat, flours, candies, crackers, chips, cakes, cookies, pastas. These carbs create blood glucose spikes when we consume them. Too much of these foods will lead to gestational diabetes, or adult onset diabetes.
Stick with complex carbs: vegetables, fruits, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, brown rice, gluten free pasta, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel breads, beans, legumes, lentils, etc.
There are different sources of protein to consider: animal vs. plant protein. There is no right answer, however there is some belief that too much red meat is correlated to the spike in heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic diseases, and auto-immune disorders. Spread protein out throughout the day so you aren’t consuming protein all at once – too much protein at a specific meal can slow down the digestive systems and increase acidity in the body.
Animal Proteins: Chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, veal, beef, duck, fish, mollusks (crab, lobster, shrimp, etc.), protein powder (whey, not rice)
Plant Proteins: quinoa, lentils, nuts, soy, beans, seitan, protein powder (rice, not whey), leafy greens
Fat is key to mobilizing toxins, contributing to brain health, muscle and joint health, and cardiovascular health. Eating the right fats will help stabilize cholesterol, and improve heart health. With so many different types of fat, it’s important to note saturated fat grams, and trans-fats. Saturated fat is shown on the nutrition label of foods. Look for 2g or less of saturated fat per serving.
Good Fats: nuts, nut butters (not peanut), flax, flax oil, olive oils, seed and nut oils, avocado, coconut oil, ghee, tallow,
Bad Fats: Canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine, trans fats, fried foods, vegetable shortening, cheese, whole-fat dairy products, ice cream.
Micronutrients provide all of the vitamins and minerals through eating whole foods. The majority of these nutrients comes from the right carbs, proteins, and fats (as listed above). The doesn’t mean you can’t consume other foods (vinegars, dressings, condiments, yogurt, etc).
Calcium, for example, is found in spinach, kale, broccoli, cruciferous greens, asparagus, etc. It’s a myth that you must eat cheese, milk, yogurt or dairy to get your daily-recommended calcium needs.
It’s also easy to become iron deficient during pregnancy. Eating good sources of protein will help keep you from getting anemic. Try eating protein shakes in the afternoon or morning snack to help get protein, calories, and carbs in.
Sample Daily Menu
1 Ezekiel English Muffin
2 tbsp Almond Butter
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup 0% greek-yogurt (sweeten with stevia or honey if needed)
1 tbsp chopped walnuts
½ cup black beans
5-6oz ground turkey, cooked with taco seasoning
½ cup pico de gallo (buy pre-made at store)
1 cup mixed spring greens
½ avocado, mashed into guacamole or diced up whole
Make a taco bowl out of the above ingredients
2 Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
¾ cup roasted brussel sprouts or broccoli
1 tbsp mustard
5-6oz grilled salmon filet
1 – 1 ½ cup Mediterranean quinoa salad (quinoa tossed with tomatoes, cucumber, oinions, feta and olives)
Evening Snack or Before Bed:
Coconut “Ice Cream”
Protein shake with whey or rice protein powder and 8oz almond milk
An apple warmed up with 1 tbsp almond butter and cinnamon
Amy is a graduate of Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach. In 2013, she delivered her twin boy and girl. She has been practicing wellness and healthy living theories for 8 years.