Do a gluten free diet and pregnancy go together? What should a balanced diet for someone with gluten intolerance contain? I’m not gluten intolerant, can I still eat gluten-free during pregnancy? Is gluten intolerance during pregnancy a symptom? The answers to seven of the most commonly asked questions about gluten-free pregnancy diets.
Foods for a Safe Pregnancy Diet
(And Foods You Should Avoid!)
Creating a healthy pregnancy diet is not as hard as it's made out to be.
We’ve all seen those lists of Foods NOT to Eat While Pregnant. Often they seem to be so comprehensive that you’re left wondering, “what can I eat?”. Today we bring you a common sense guide to a safe pregnancy diet for modern women, exploring the dos and do not's of each food type. Pick and choose to design a pregnancy diet plan which works for you and gives your baby the very best start in life.
Junk Food and Pregnancy
Craving french fries, Doritos, and chocolate?
Eating too much junk food during pregnancy is not a great plan. It's much better to try and curb your cravings with a healthy and balanced pregnancy diet.
Foods high in salt, fat, and sugar increase your risk of dangerous pregnancy symptoms like edema and gestational diabetes. New studies also suggest that babies exposed to too much junk food in pregnancy are more likely to be addicted to fat, salt, and sugar by the time they are weaned.
But we're not here to scare you!
If you make a few simple changes to your pregnancy diet, you shouldn't crave junk food at all. Plus, you'll be getting all of the best nutrients and giving your baby the best possible start in life. We've divided the foods into groups to make it easier to find what you're looking for.
Seafood and Pregnancy
Many people worry about what seafood is safe during pregnancy and some websites advise against eating it at all. However, most fresh seafood is safe to eat during pregnancy. In fact, the omega 3 you get from seafood is really good for you and your baby. The key is to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked so that it's free of harmful bacteria.
The seafood to avoid during pregnancy is anything raw (sorry, sushi lovers!) and to limit fish with a high mercury content, particularly tuna and shark.
Protein and Pregnancy
You should be trying to eat about three servings of protein every day. Meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and some vegetables are all good sources of protein. A few words of advice about protein and pregnancy:
- When preparing meats, try and ensure you have lean cuts and remove any excess fats.
- Seafood is a great source of protein but you need to ensure your seafood is safe (see above).
- Make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked - cut it open and check there is no trace of pink.
Dairy and Pregnancy
Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, which will help your baby form strong, healthy bones. It also contains protein, phosphorus, vitamin D and lots of other essential vitamins and minerals.
You should aim to eat 2 - 4 servings of calcium rich food every day. Breakfast is a great time for dairy - try adding some yogurt to your cereal or making a tasty fruit, yogurt and milk smoothie. Or how about cottage cheese on crackers for an afternoon snack?
The only dairy products you should try to avoid are soft cheeses (camembert, brie, feta, blue cheese) and unpasteurized milk as these can contain dangerous bacteria like listeriosis.
Caffeine and Pregnancy
This one's pretty hard for those of us who basically run on caffeine: experts recommend pregnant women limit caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day. That'at's one 12 ounce cup of coffee. It's not all bad, though. You can make your cup of coffee into a real treat and something to look forward to! Decide which of your daily cups is most exquisite and make an occasion of it!
Vegetables and Pregnancy
Aim for about five servings of vegetables a day. They provide essential potassium, folic acid, beta-carotene, and vitamin C to you and your baby. The best vegetables to eat during pregnancy are:
- Folate-rich vegetables such as peas, spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- Vegetables high in beta-carotene like sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin (anything with an orange hue).
- Leafy greens like lettuce and rocket.
The only vegetables to avoid during pregnancy are dressed salads prepared in delis as these can carry a slight risk of salmonella. It's best to make your own salads at home and to ensure that mayonnaise and dressings are refrigerated safely.
Fruits and Pregnancy
You should try and eat about three servings of fruits each day of your pregnancy. If you have a sweet tooth and find yourself getting sugar cravings, the natural fructose sugars in a strawberry or nectarine will help you curb the cravings! Additionally, fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other great stuff!
Later in your pregnancy, your doctor may advise you to cut down on fruit if there is a risk of gestational diabetes.
Wheat and Pregnancy
Wheat is a rich source of fiber and can help prevent some of the more unpleasant pregnancy symptoms like hemorrhoids and constipation. You should try and eat around 2 - 3 servings of whole-grain bread or an alternative (like rice cakes or quinoa) if you're gluten intolerant. It's best to choose whole-grain because it's less processed, contains less sugar and has more great nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins, and iron.
More to Explore:
Yoga is an excellent way to stay healthy during your pregnancy and to prepare for birth. Make your body your temple and check out our guide to pregnancy yoga here.
Want to know more about nutrition, exercise, and supplements for your pregnancy? Check out our comprehensive guide to a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
About three-quarters of women suffer from pregnancy nausea in the first trimester. What you eat can make a huge difference to how much this symptom affects you. Read our nutritional guide to coping with morning sickness here.
Is green tea safe for pregnancy? How much is okay per day? What are the effects of green tea during pregnancy? Are there any alternatives to green tea for pregnancy? All your questions on green tea and pregnancy answered.
Getting all the minerals and nutrients you need during pregnancy can be hard. And so can maintaining the energy levels you need to get through the day. Eating small meals regularly is the key to providing your baby with everything he or she needs. Check out ten great recipes for pregnancy snacks here.