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Your Pregnancy Diet: A Starter's Shopping List

Find out what foods you should be adding onto your shopping list now that you're pregnant -- and why.

Photo: shutterstock

Now that you’re pregnant, your overall diet needs to be well-balanced to ensure that you and baby get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. A little overwhelmed by all the “eat this, not that” advice you’ve been getting lately? We don’t blame you. So let’s make things simple: Here’s a cheat sheet of what you may want to add to your shopping list (if they aren’t on it already) the next time you’re cruising the grocery aisles:

The Basics

[ ] Whole grains
[ ] Whole-wheat bread
[ ] Beans (particularly garbanzo beans)
[ ] Fruits and veggies*
[ ] Brown rice**
[ ] Bran cereal

* Eating lots of different-colored veggies will help you get in an array of vitamins and minerals. Here’s a rundown of which ones to reach for and why:
        - Citrus fruits, broccoli, and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C, which will promote healthy skin and gums, among other things. 
        - Dark, leafy greens are a great way to get in the vitamin A, folate, and iron that you need during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 
        - Sweet potatoes and squash are high in fiber and rich in vitamins A and C, and make a great choice for a nutritious side dish or as ingredients in soups and casseroles. 
        - Spinach is also a good source of iron. Now that extra blood is circulating in your body, you’ll need to get more iron in your diet so you don’t become anemic.
** Brown rice is high in fiber, which will keep you satisfied. It’s also low in fat and helps alleviate constipation.

Protein

Since protein is one of the essential building blocks for muscle, tissue, and all sorts of other new cells, getting the required amount is crucial when you’re pregnant. (It’s also important after pregnancy, when you’re exercising and trying to build up new muscle.) Browse this list of options to make sure you’re working enough protein into your diet each day:

[ ] Organic chicken [ ] Turkey
[ ] Beef
[ ] Lamb
[ ] Veal
[ ] Liver
[ ] Ham
[ ] Wild (not farmed!) salmon
[ ] Milk
[ ] Yogurt *
[ ] Soy milk
[ ] Tofu
[ ] Cheese (including low-fat cottage cheese)
[ ] Eggs
[ ] Peanut butter **
[ ] Black beans
[ ] Garbanzo beans***
[ ] Lentils
[ ] Navy beans
[ ] Pinto beans
[ ] Peas
[ ] Soybeans
[ ] Lima beans
[ ] Canola oil
[ ] Flaxseed****
[ ] Olive oil

* Calcium helps build bones and strong muscles. If you don’t consume enough, your baby’s bones steal calcium from yours, which ups your risk of osteoporosis later in life. Look for brands fortified with folic acid and Vitamin D.
** Natural peanut butter is a good source of both protein and fat.
*** Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) will give you more folic acid, which helps develop baby’s nervous system.
**** DHA is found in flaxseed (as well as salmon, wheat germ, and nuts), and is crucial during pregnancy and while breastfeeding in order for your baby’s brain, cells, and retinal, nervous and cardiovascular systems to develop properly.

Vegetarian Recommendations

If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the amount of protein you’re getting at every meal (consider popping a vitamin B12 supplement each day too). Try incorporating as many of these veggie-friendly foods in your diet as possible:

[ ] Legumes
[ ] Beans
[ ] Soybeans
[ ] Lentils
[ ] Tofu
[ ] Tempeh
[ ] Whole grains
[ ] Seeds and nuts, like flaxseed and sunflower seeds*

* Seeds and nuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

-- Tracey Mallett

See More: Nutrition