Monitoring your nutrition during pregnancy is extremely important because it has the potential to impact your child’s health in the long-term. No doubt it can get a bit complex when you’re thinking for two, so here are some tricks to help guide your food intake throughout the process.
Meal Tips for Each Trimester
While there are certain things you should keep in mind when it comes to your nutrition plan throughout your entire pregnancy, like eating enough protein to support fetus growth, there are also tricks to how you should adjust your plan in each trimester to ensure you’re optimizing your food intake for the baby’s health.
In the first trimester, in addition to taking your prenatal vitamin regularly, ensure you’ve incorporated vitamin B9 and folates (e.g., dark leafy greens, asparagus, lentils) into your diet, as they help protect your baby from the risk of neural tube defects.
Once you’ve hit the second trimester, shift your focus to iron, as your blood volume will increase about 40 – 50 percent. Iron-rich foods include clams, oysters (thoroughly cooked), egg yolk, salmon (which also has lower levels of mercury than other fish), beef, lamb, and chicken. Watch your Vitamin C intake during this stage of your pregnancy as well by incorporating foods like bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, citrus, kale, and strawberries into your diet.
By the time you’ve reached your third trimester your diet should be rich in calcium, D3, K2, and Omega 3s which are strong supporters of fetus growth. Examples include:
- D3: Herring, salmon and sardines
- K2: traditionally fermented sauerkraut, natto, pasture raised egg yolk, grass-fed butter, chicken and beef
- Omega-3s (which also support the baby’s brain development): fatty fish like salmon, trout and mackerel, or marine algae (containing DHA & EPA)
To help ensure you’re mastering these trimester tricks, I recommend using a wearable device like Fitbit Versa Lite. In addition to is well-known benefits like heart rate tracking, the Fitbit app also has a food logging feature which you can use to keep track of what you’re eating and when.
Foods to Avoid
Aside from the more well-known foods to avoid like alcohol and caffeine, you should also skip things like undercooked proteins which could harbor bacteria, large fish with high-mercury content as well as aspartame, which could cause birth defects. You should also minimize your intake of strong spices, as it could worsen symptoms of heartburn.
My Pregnancy is Over – Now What?
Nine months of pregnancy puts your body through a lot of changes and it will take time to get it back to its former physique. The key to that is as basic as getting your steps in every day and keeping up with the healthy foods you were eating during your pregnancy.
You’re probably not going to be getting much sleep, which means you will likely become susceptible to increased food consumption based on changes with your hormone levels, according to research. That said, it will be critical to keep your body moving as much as possible. Doctors typically restrict you from moving too much post-pregnancy, so once you receive clearance to move beyond 4,000 steps per day, set a goal of increasing you step count by 500 each week until you hit about 12,000 per day.
Building on my earlier suggestion about wearables, you can use your Fitbit to create personalized step and active minute goals to help keep you on the right track. Fitbit can also track your sleep and provide insights on not only how much you’ve slept, but how well – including data on how often you wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, for example.
Additionally, once you’re given the okay to start incorporating some resistance exercises, try moves that target your posterior which can help counteract all the forward pull your abdominal muscles endured during your pregnancy. Try exercises like the TRX row, stiff leg deadlifts, lying tricep extensions and bird dog will help jumpstart your metabolism and help with your posture.
Follow these steps and you’ll be back to your pre-pregnancy body in no time!
About the Author: Harley Pasternak is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto. He is also certified by The American College of Sports Medicine and The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology. He is also a brand ambassador for Fitbit.