So you just found out that you are pregnant. What should you eat?
But, now that you’re pregnant, your need for calories and most nutrients goes up a bit. The best way to get what you need for you and your baby is to eat nutrient-dense foods. What are nutrient-dense foods? They are the opposite of “empty-calorie” foods. Basically nutrient-dense foods give you the “biggest bang for your buck” – more essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats) for less calories.
Eating for Two
The “eating for two” (or more!) phrase often confuses new moms. This does not mean you get to eat twice as many calories as you ate before pregnancy. But now that you have two humans to eat for, focus more on those nutrient-dense foods to improve the quality of the diet (e.g., eating less junk food like fries and more whole foods like sweet potatoes). What about calories? In the first trimester, generally you do not need any more calories than before. In the second, you’ll need an additional 340 calories according to the Dietary Reference Intakes. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the 340 calories may consist of the following:
a) an extra egg at breakfast (80 calories) and
b) a snack before bedtime (to keep the 3 a.m. hunger pangs at bay) including 4 whole
grain crackers (80 calories), 1 ounce gouda cheese (100 calories), and an apple (80
In the third trimester, you need an additional 450 calories daily. So you could add to this:
c) an afternoon snack of a yogurt with a few blueberries on top (100 + 10 calories).
If you want to figure out specifically how many calories a day you need, that is something you will need to discuss with your healthcare provider. They look at a few different things: height-to-weight ratio (BMI), physical activity, appetite, age, medical history, and your rate of weight gain. That being said, not everyone needs to count calories throughout their pregnancy. Just remember to listen to your hunger signals and stop eating when you are full!
In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing weight gain (and what to do if you are gaining too much or too little) as well as the specifics on nutrient supplementation during pregnancy.
So with all that talk about snacking... here's an easy snack to make that only takes three ingredients! This version of the childhood classic snack, Ants-on-a-Log, uses almond butter! Almond butter is packed with heart-healthy unsaturated fat (7.5 grams per tablespoon) as well as 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fibre in each tablespoon. Fibre and protein keep you feeling satisfied and curb hunger between meals. When at the grocery store, try to choose almond butter with no sugar or salt on the ingredient list.
Yield: 1 serving (three “logs”)
1 celery rib
1-2 tablespoons roasted almond butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
1-2 tablespoons dried fruit (e.g., raisins, cherries, cranberries)
- Wash celery rib with cold water. Cut rib into 3 celery sticks.
- Spread each celery stick with a third of the almond butter.
- Top the almond butter celery stick with dried fruit; serve immediately!