Finding a medical professional or nutritionist who won’t extol the virtues of healthy eating during pregnancy is about as rare as finding a snowflake in the Sahara. And the choices you make for what to stock in your refrigerator can make or break your diet. When carrying around a baby bump, you want to be certain that most of the items in cold storage qualify as health superstars—for both mom and baby. Make some simple switches to ensure your diet is rich in all the essential nutrients necessary for the healthiest nine months possible.
Like this? Fruit-flavored yogurt
Try this: Plain Greek yogurt
Too often, fruity yogurts are drowning in an alphabet soup of ingredients, which may or may not include real fruit. Plus, the added sugars can contribute to excessive pregnancy weight gain and increased risk for gestational diabetes. On the flipside, plain Greek yogurt is supercharged with about twice as much protein to help keep the growing belly feeling full. It’s so deliciously thick and creamy, you won’t miss the sweeteners—and if you do, consider adding berries for a flavorful boost. Like traditional yogurt, the Greek version is laced with probiotics, friendly micro-critters that can improve digestive health. It’s a good idea to aim for up to 4 servings of dairy a day during pregnancy, but stick with 2 percent or less fat content to keep calories in check.
Like this? Cold cuts
Try this: Smoked salmon
Upgrade your lunch sandwiches by swapping out ham, chicken and other cold cuts from the deli counter for smoked salmon. Doing so helps you reel in the omega-3 fatty acids shown to improve a growing baby’s brain and eye development. Higher intakes of these high-powered fats may also slash the risk for prenatal depression. Smoked salmon is delicious atop toasted English muffins or strewn over salads.
Like this? Mayonnaise
Try this: Avocado
Instead of slathering nutritionally lackluster mayo on your sandwich bread, try using mashed up avocado. The buttery flesh boasts a laundry list of must-have nutrients—including significant levels of fiber, vitamin K, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and folate. Expectant gals need to seek out foods brimming with the B vitamin folate to help reduce the risk for neural-tube defects.
Like this? Strawberries
Try this: Raspberries
Raspberries are teeming with fiber, more than twice the amount found in strawberries. In fact, a mere cup of the sweet red morsels provides 8 grams of dietary fiber, about 30 percent of the daily needs during pregnancy and lactation. A high fiber diet can help alleviate constipation, a commonly loathed problem among moms-to-be, and also work to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel, preventing sagging energy levels.
Like this? Peanut butter
Try this: Almond butter
Spoonful for spoonful, almond butter provides about six times as much calcium and twice the amount of magnesium as its iconic counterpart. The dynamic duo of calcium and magnesium in this tasty spread will help build your baby’s bones and teeth. Plus, it’s often spared the unflattering sugar and hydrogenated oils added to many well known peanut butters. When possible, choose unsalted options made with only almonds, and store in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Like this? Feta cheese
Try this: Goat cheese
While feta can gussy up any salad, pasteurized soft goat cheese contains about a third less sodium. A recent study found that a pregnancy diet with overly generous amounts of salt may produce undesirable alterations in fetal heart structure. For some women, high sodium intake may also lead to potential pregnancy complications, such as bloating and high blood pressure. Research also suggests that goat milk used to make the horned variety of cheese is richer in nutrients such as omega-3 fats and bone-building calcium than cow’s milk.
Like this? Iceberg lettuce
Try this: Spinach
A good rule of thumb when deciding which greens to stock in your crisper: the darker the green, the greater the nutritional value. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard provide a payload of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K and beta-carotene. In the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, which supports proper organ formation in your developing babe.
Like this? Original soymilk
Try this: Unsweetened soymilk
Surprise! Even unflavored nondairy beverages like soy and almond can sully your diet with extra calories. To avoid sending your blood sugar into a tizzy, look for nondairy drink alternatives labeled “unsweetened.” As you drink more, your taste buds will become accustomed to the absence of sweeteners. Make sure your preferred brand is fortified with vitamins and minerals, in particular calcium and vitamin D.
Like this? Diet soda
Try this: Coconut water
While sipping diet drinks can help you avoid an avalanche of calories, there is little research about the effects of artificial sweeteners used in most diet sodas on expectant and nursing moms and their babes. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to steer clear. Instead, guzzle tangy coconut water to help meet your heightened hydration needs during pregnancy and lactation. Gleaned from green coconuts, coconut aqua has potassium in spades, which may help prevent unhealthy rises in blood pressure numbers. With only about 6 grams of natural sugar in a one-cup serving, sipping this tropical delight won’t send your blood sugar on a Rocky Mountain High.
Like this? Eggs
Try this: Omega-3-enriched eggs
Omega-3-enriched eggs are from chickens that have been provided a diet supplemented with a source of omega-3 fatty acids (often flaxseed). Cracking open a couple for breakfast or a budget-friendly dinner can give your diet a boost of these extra special fats necessary for the proper development of your baby. As with other eggs, the omega-enriched ones are a source of choline, an important nutrient that helps brain cells develop normally, which may boost future brainpower in your baby.
Stock your freezer with these nutrient-packed subzero heroes.
Tasty soybeans deliver a smorgasbord of nutrients including fiber, protein, iron and folate. For a quick snack, boil a cup of shelled edamame for five minutes and season with a squirt of lemon juice and a dash of smoked paprika.
Research shows that these blue gems possess soaring levels of antioxidants, molecules that help stamp out cell-damaging free radicals. Blend into smoothies or stir into Greek yogurt.
Whole grain waffles
Top a waffle with low-fat cottage cheese and berries for a quick start to the day that doesn’t sacrifice your nutritional needs. Just make sure the first grain in the ingredient list is a whole grain, such as whole-wheat flour.
Frozen Greek yogurt bars
Tame a Saber-sized sweet tooth without the guilt! Look for bars in which fruit comes before sugar in the ingredient list so you get the most protein and vitamins for your buck.