Even if you’re taking supplements, it’s important to nourish your body and your baby’s body with good food, especially during the last trimester of your pregnancy.
The third trimester is an important one in terms of baby’s growth. The baby’s weight more than doubles, and may even triple, before his or her due date. Also, baby’s brain development picks up during the last 11 weeks, even developing the grooves and wrinkles that encourage future tissue growth when they are out of the womb.
At every meal and snack time, though, the question always arises: “What should I eat?” Here are the foods that I am focusing on during my third trimester to make sure I stay healthy and my baby gets all the nutrients she needs.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that has loads of health benefits. It contains up to four times as many strains of beneficial microorganisms as yogurt, and it is rich in calcium, which is important for both mother and baby.
World health experts suggest that pregnant women receive 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day, but many pre-natal supplements do not contain the recommended amount of calcium because it interferes with iron intake. Even though I take a calcium supplement at night (and my pre-natal pill with iron in the morning), I try to include calcium-rich foods in my diet, like kefir.
Kefir can be found in the yogurt section of your grocery store. I like to use kefir in my smoothies instead of milk, or I simply drink it on its own to enjoy its unique effervescent quality.
Venison is a lean meat that comes from deer. I was wary at first of eating venison while pregnant, but after tasting my husband’s venison chili, I was hooked. In terms of red meat, it’s also a healthier choice. Three ounces of venison contains 134 calories and only three grams of fat. Compare that to three ounces of beef, which contains 247 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Plus, a serving of venison contains 26 grams of protein, so if you’re struggling to meet your protein requirements every day, venison can be your protein hero.
Note that U.S. consumers can’t buy wild venison legally, but some butchers may carry farm-raised venison. As with all red meats, make sure that you cook it thoroughly to 165 degrees. Also, wash all utensils that come into contact with the raw meat with hot water and soap.
- Legumes and Nuts
Most pre-natal diets recommend women consume 75 to 100 grams of protein per day, which seems downright daunting. Even though I enjoy meat during my pregnancy, I still like to eat plant-based foods that are rich in protein because of the range of other nutrients they contain.
Beans and many other legumes are nutritional heavy-weights in terms of protein and fiber, but they also contain folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium. In fact, one cup of chickpeas contains 39 grams of protein and 69 percent of daily iron requirements.
Nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are some other great options for upping your protein intake. Dates packed with walnuts are my go-to snack in the afternoon because of their high omega-3 content. Those omega-3’s are more important than ever now that baby’s brain is growing at a high rate.
- Baked Potatoes and Sweet potatoes
Since I’m pregnant and it already feels like winter where I live, I am gravitating toward the ultimate comfort food—potatoes. Thankfully, potatoes aren’t just empty calories. One medium potato with its skin contains 45 percent of daily vitamin C requirements. Heading into the flu and cold season makes vitamin C-rich foods, like potatoes, even more appealing.
Sweet potatoes contain both vitamin C and vitamin A, which promotes good vision, among many other things. Pregnant women should have 700 micrograms of vitamin A per day, and one cup of cooked sweet potato has 1,922 micrograms of vitamin A.
- Dark Chocolate
Eating dark chocolate is not only a treat, it has many health boons as well. Researchers found that women who consumed chocolate five times per week saw a decreased risk of preeclampsia. It is the theobromine in cocoa, highest in dark chocolate, that is thought to combat the high blood pressure which causes preeclampsia. Keep in mind, chocolate has some caffeine in it, so eat it in moderation…if you can!