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Kicks and Cankles: Pregnancy Power Foods

Kicks and Cankles: Pregnancy Power Foods

Expecting mamas know all about the hunger struggle. It's like finding that perfect balance between stuffing your face so you don't feel sick and eating too much so that you feel sick. Ugh, the struggle is so real.

The point is you're constantly hungry because, when you're pregnant, your body needs more protein, vitamins, calcium, and iron which means you could probably spend all day eating and still not get everything your bod needs. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well sometimes sorting through what you should and shouldn't eat can feel like an absolute chore--especially when you take into account the whole pregnancy brain thing that makes thinking impossible. Which might be why I defaulted to Cheetos and root beer with my first pregnancy and grilled brats with my second. Don't be me. To avoid being a victim to the trap of eating while pregnant, I put together a list of foods that are super easy to fit into your daily meals and snacks, and is a nice change up from all the fruits and veggies you should be eating while you're pregnant. So here's a list of pregnancy POWER foods that will help you to feel full and energized, and will help your babe develop in all the right ways!

Water

This is a no-brainer. But seriously. Drink. Water. Don't stop drinking water. Keeping yourself hydrated is probably one of the most important things you can do while pregnant. Water is especially important while pregnant, because your body is prone to headaches, cramps, nausea, and dizziness when you get too dry. Keep a big bottle with you at all times and just refill that sucker non-stop! A good rule of thumb is to have 8 ounces of water for every hour you're awake. You'll be sure to visit the bathroom all day anyway, so why not make sure you're getting enough water, too?

Hummus

This tasty treat is a mix of tons of yummy and protein-packed ingredients! You can decide if you want a traditional chickpea hummus, or you could mix it up by using black beans, or edamame. All of these will give you great protein and vitamins, along with some olive oil for healthy fats that your body needs. You can spread it on crusty bread, eat it with crunchy veggies, or even spread it over chicken! 

Flaxseed

Up your fiber game by fitting this powerhouse into your diet. During my pregnancy, I added ground flax into my oatmeal, cookies, and even into my smoothies. It will help keep you (ahem) regular, and is packed with those good fatty acids like Omega-3.

Lean Red Meat

You need it, girl. One thing that a lot of pregnant women lack in their diets is IRON. Ever wonder why you see your preggo friends chomping on ice? They're probably not getting enough iron in their diet. Lean, red meat is a great thing to have while you're pregnant, especially into the third trimester. It's obviously going to help with protein, and is also great source of vitamin B12!

Milk

Low fat milk is one of the easiest ways to reach your daily calcium intake, and should definitely be a daily in your diet. It's also a great source of Vitamin D and will help with strong bones for you, and bone growth for babe. If you're not a fan of drinking it straight, add it to your favorite cereal, mix it into a smoothie, or even mix it up with almond or soy milk!

Eggs

Scrambled, fried, or poached, these little guys are a great source of protein, B vitamins, and amino acids you and your little one need. They're also super cheap, so you can eat a couple for breakfast every day without breaking the bank. Not wanting to take the time to pull out the pan and cook them up every day? No big deal! Spray a microwave-safe bowl with some cooking spray, beat up two eggs with a little bit of milk, add salt pepper and shredded cheddar, and pop them in the microwave for 90 seconds stirring half way through. No muss, no fuss, and you have eggs. You're welcome.

Oatmeal

Yep. More fiber. Oatmeal is so good for you! It has potassium and calcium, and can help you keep your heart healthy and keep your blood pressure in check. It's up to you how you want to eat it! You can add it into a yummy batch of cookies, you can cook it up with some almond milk and add raisins and walnuts, you can pour a spoonful into a smoothie, or bake it up into a yummy granola to eat over yogurt or fruit!
 

Yogurt

Eating this protein-packed snack will also serve you some important B vitamins and calcium, but also has tummy-friendly probiotics which will help to keep your immune system and your gut healthy! Whether it's greek, non-fat, or fruity, this is an easy go-to snack for any pregnant mama!

Whole Grains

There are a million choices when it comes to whole grains: multi-grain wheat toast, brown rice, quinoa, fortified cereals. Considering the fact that you're supposed to be getting around 30g of fiber per day when you're pregnant, these friends should be very familiar to you once your babe is born. Do yourself a favor against constipation and hemorrhoids by having some whole grains with every meal during the day!

Nut Butters

These protein power house spreads are also packed with essential fatty oils, and are an easy way to get more of both into your diet. You can eat them on toast, with veggies or fruit, or add them into your smoothies for an added protein punch! They have some sugar added to sweeten them up, so don't over-do it, but taking the easy route is definitely a must when you're growing another person inside you, am I right?

Beans and Lentils

Black, white, pinto, navy, red...yeah...all those guys. Dried beans are packed with folic acid which is a must for cognitive and nerve development in the womb. They're also a low-calorie, high-protein choice for every mama out there. You can add them to soups, salads, or serve them alone with pretty much any meal! Lentils are another great option with the same benefits. Mix them with chicken stock, your favorite soup spices, onion, celery, and carrot in a crockpot and cook them slow for 4-8 hours. When they're soft and have soaked up the liquid, you can serve them alongside any protein! They'll also keep for up to five days, so cook a big pot of your favorite beans on Sunday or Monday, and you can reheat them throughout the week!

Salmon

A lot of pregnant women are afraid to add fish to their diet because of the scary mercury which has been linked to brain damage and developmental delay. And it's a good thing to be aware of! You should try to avoid eating sushi or some canned fish which will be high in contaminates like mercury and could be harmful to baby. But heart-healthy salmon has Omega-3 fatty acids which will help with blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Try fitting it into your diet once a week for some variety to all the lean meats!

Cheese

While you probably want to avoid the gorgonzola, brie and feta on the cheese platter, you can definitely stick to the pasteurized block varieties like cheddar and mozzarella, or even softer cheeses like cottage cheese and cream cheese. Cheese is rich in calcium, protein and B12 which are all important things for you and baby! You can melt it down between two whole wheat tortillas for a quick quesadilla, or top your cottage cheese with some peaches for a sweet and salty snack!

Nuts

Need something to grab on the go for a quick, protein-packed snack? Nuts are a great way to get that added fat and protein without being too much trouble. Almost all nuts will have those essential fatty oils that your body needs, and will help you feel fuller while you're trying to curb the hunger during your pregnancy. You can mix a variety of nuts together with some dried fruit and chocolate chips for yummy trail mix that can go right in your purse!

Getting the right nutrition for you and your little one doesn't have to be super drastic while you're pregnant, but making the conscious effort to eat a little better, drink WAY more water, and make sure you're getting in whole foods will ensure that you and babe will be healthy as ever!

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