Healthy Meal Ideas for Pregnancy

Healthy Meal Ideas for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the time in a woman's life to truly pay attention to her diet, but with morning sickness, food cravings and insatiable hunger, getting the nutrition you need can be tricky. Some take pregnancy as a license to eat with abandon, but in reality, you only need about an extra 300 calories a day to support the life growing inside of you. Make all your calories count with a healthy meal plan that keeps you satisfied. Talk with your obstetrician or a dietitian if you have diet-related questions.

A Satisfying Breakfast
Throughout the day, you should aim for two to four servings of fruit, at least four servings of vegetables, four servings of dairy, three servings of protein and six to 11 servings of breads and grains. Get started on a healthy day by eating breakfast -- though that's easier said than done if you have morning sickness. If you feel OK, combine low-fat protein, such as eggs or lean meat, with a complex carb. A healthy breakfast idea is scrambled eggs on top of a piece of whole-grain toast and an orange on the side for a dose of vitamin C, of which you need 70 milligrams a day. Make sure you cook those eggs thoroughly to reduce the risk of salmonella. If coffee is your No. 1 priority in the morning, keep it to a total of 200 milligrams of caffeine, or about two cups. Better yet, gradually switch over to decaf. If you feel ill in the morning, try to get anything in your stomach that you can keep down, whether it's whole-grain crackers, a grilled cheese sandwich or dry whole-wheat toast.

An Easy Lunch
Use your midday meal to get in plenty of the nutrients you need to support your growing baby, including iron and calcium. A lunch featuring products rich in these nutrients includes a leafy green salad topped with lean meat or poultry and cheese, along with a side of yogurt. If you're craving Mexican food, registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth, author of "Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide," recommends making it a taco salad with lean sirloin and black beans. But if you're dealing with heartburn -- a common pregnancy problem -- keep the spice to a minimum and pair the taco salad with a glass of low-fat milk. Other lunch ideas that help can help keep nausea at bay -- because morning sickness can truly be an all-day affair -- are cold foods such as sandwiches, properly prepared to prevent listeria in the deli meat, or fruit, raw vegetables and salads.

Healthy Dinners
To promote your baby's neural tube development, you need to eat at least 0.4 milligram of folic acid each day. Get that in at dinnertime by basing your meal around legumes, such as lima beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas, which will also help with the protein your body needs. Add a side of vitamin A in the form of sweet potatoes or carrots and a healthy green salad for a well-rounded vegetarian meal. If you want a meat-based meal, Largeman-Roth recommends iron-, fiber- and protein-rich turkey burgers. avoid spicy, greasy foods to help with nausea and heartburn, however. If you really need some hearty comfort food, add vitamin-rich broccoli to a helping of homemade macaroni and cheese, which will boost your consumption of calcium for the day.

Filling Snacks
Eating small snacks throughout the day can help combat morning sickness and heartburn. Snacks that may help with nausea include pretzels, popsicles and mint tea. Nutritious snacks include whole-grain crackers and cheese, a smoothie made with fruit and low-fat yogurt or trail mix. If you're craving chocolate, try chocolate pudding made with low-fat milk or chocolate-dipped strawberries or almonds.