While healthy eating is important for everyone, it’s especially important for pregnant women. Your body is solely responsible for growing a baby who needs a range of vitamins and minerals to develop in a healthy way — and healthy meals are key.
Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals have put together a range of videos to help you do that successfully and with confidence.
Watch this video (3:20) for practical suggestions on how to make your meals, particularly lunch and dinner, meet your needs and the needs of your baby.
1. Three meals a day:
The cornerstone of healthy eating starts with three well-spaced meals a day — a maximum of four to six hours apart — with a couple of snacks in between. You may also find eating smaller, more frequent meals, up to six times a day, works for you.
Eating regularly helps you control the size of your next meal because you never let yourself get too hungry.
2. A balanced plate: Half a plate of vegetables:
Once you’re eating regular meals, it’s time to get the balance on your plate right.
Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables of at least two kinds, for example, broccoli and cauliflower. Other easy options include carrots, peppers and beans.
Vegetables are low in calories and high in the nutrients your baby needs.
3. A balanced plate: Eat a quarter of a plate of whole grains:
Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains. Good examples include whole wheat bread, wild rice, brown rice or quinoa.
It’s particularly important to choose whole grains when you’re pregnant, rather than highly-processed grains, such as white rice and white bread. Whole grain products have a higher fibre content and leave you feeling full, longer.
Whole grains also help you regulate your bowel movements and prevent constipation, a common concern in pregnancy. (Staying well-hydrated by drinking at least 9 cups of liquids a day, also helps keep constipation at bay.)
4. A balanced plate: Eat a quarter plate of meat or meat alternatives:
Fill the remaining quarter of your plate with meat or a meat alternative such as red meat, lentils, chicken and salmon. A piece of meat that is the size of your palm and about 1 centimetre thick is ideal.
Meat and meat alternatives are especially important in pregnancy to ensure you get the extra iron you and your baby need.
Your body uses the iron to make extra blood for your baby and build the placenta. Watch this video, 6 tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy, to find out more.
5. Eat a range of food groups at each meal:
It’s also a good rule of thumb to eat at least three to four food groups at each meal to ensure you and your baby regularly receive all the nutrients you need.
And then you can round off dinner with a piece of fruit and milk or a milk alternative, such as yogurt. Or save the fruit and yogurt for a snack in between meals.
6. Balanced sandwiches:
If you prefer to eat sandwiches or a wrap for lunch, here’s a quick example of how you can use the rules above to turn the meal into a balanced plate.
Try the following:
1 small whole wheat wrap
½ cup of chopped chicken
½ plate with chopped raw vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, celery and snap peas, or a vegetable soup on the side.
Glass of water.
(Include a snack of yogurt and strawberries.)
Calgary Foothills PCN health professionals — a dietitian, a family doctor and a registered nurse from our maternity clinic — have also put together other pregnancy and nutrition videos to help you eat well and stay healthy during pregnancy.
See these videos and blogs:
- How to get enough calcium in pregnancy, and food safety: video and blog
- 5 tips to a healthy pregnancy weight, and food cravings: video and blog
- 6 tips to increase your iron intake in pregnancy: video and blog
- Tips on how much to eat in each trimester of your pregnancy: video and blog
The Riley Park Maternity Clinic offers care to low-risk patients based in Calgary and Cochrane during pregnancy. The family doctors at the clinic specialize in obstetrics. Patients deliver at the Foothills Medical Centre. Find out more.
To see more pregnancy and birth-related resources, search “pregnancy” in the Resources section of our website.