When you’re pregnant, eating healthy food can be really difficult; you might have morning sickness or feel food aversions, you may feel worn out and too tired to cook, or maybe you just want comfort foods. I remember vividly my husband making me a stir-fry with lots of beautifully-cooked vegetables, and as soon as the first piece of broccoli touched my tongue I gagged. I couldn’t eat it, and I was so disappointed. I managed to find several great foods that were nutritious and easy to eat while I was pregnant, which helped me to stay on top of my food intake and keep my energy levels up.
The first food I loved to eat was dates. I had read a couple of studies showing that women who ate dates from 36 weeks onwards seemed to have higher bishop scores when they were admitted to the hospital in labor. Your bishop score is a combination of factors: how dilated your cervix is, how effaced it is, and the station (or how far down into the pelvis) the baby is. I have always loved dates, so I started eating them as often as I could. They are high in energy, sweet and caramel-like, and you can use them in both sweet and savory type recipes. I used to chop some up and put them in a Moroccan-style chickpea curry, or stuff them with walnuts and cream cheese. I would also simply eat them out of the bag plain. They’re high in fiber, which can help things keep “moving along”, and we all know that constipation is a common pregnancy complaint. They’re also great sources of antioxidants, iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, and copper. These are just a few of the benefits, and for me since my labor was relatively easy I’ve got to give at least some credit to the dates!
Kale may sound like the last food in the world you want to eat, but it’s extremely nutritious and relatively easy to hide in other foods. Kale is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and numerous other vitamins and antioxidant-rich nutrients. Kale has cholesterol-lowering benefits and anti-inflammatory compounds, which could help to start alleviating some of those pregnancy pains. It’s simple to blend up in a smoothie with banana, milk, oats, and peanut butter for a nutrient-dense drink that doesn’t even taste like kale. You can also chop it up finely and add it to pasta sauces, put it on top of pizza, or hide it in chilli or mashed potatoes.
Lentils and Beans
These delicious little legumes are sometimes given a bad rap, and can be portrayed as gross health food. However, they are some of the highest-folate foods around, and folate is a crucial nutrient for having a healthy pregnancy and baby. It’s in all prenatal vitamins for a reason! Lentils can be added into pasta sauces or dishes that contain beef or lamb mince – just add the lentils in when you add the mincemeat, and be sure to cook the sauce for long enough for the lentils to get soft. If you use brown or green lentils they will take longer. There are also a number of lentil stew and soup recipes around that are hearty, filling, and delicious. Beans are equally as good, particularly pinto beans and black beans. Make a nacho chilli with some black beans, tomatoes, finely chopped kale, and chilli seasoning; serve it on top of tasty corn chips and smothered with cheese and hummus (or sour cream) for a dish that’s full of folate!
Salmon was another food on my “must eat” list while I was pregnant: it’s full of omega-3s for baby’s brain development, high in calcium for growing baby’s bones and replacing your own lost calcium, and is nice and high in vitamin B12 and vitamin D, two more key ingredients in building your baby’s healthy brain and bones. We ate baked salmon with roast vegetables a lot: simply wrap your piece of fresh salmon in foil with a few slices of lemon and some spring onions, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so.
If you have any questions at all about what foods you should – or shouldn’t be – eating, consult your physician.
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