You made it through the morning sickness, low energy first trimester! Your second trimester is here and coming in hot with a lot of baby development including hearing and bone hardening. Your baby is starting to be able to hear your voice, kick your tummy, and overall growth takes off. Making sure baby is feeling good heading into the home stretch of the third trimester is crucial for proper development, and your food choices can play a big role in keeping you and baby feeling great.
Important nutrients to focus on during these weeks are iron, fiber, protein, B vitamins, and healthy fats. These will help your baby create adequate stores of nutrients that may not be available through breast milk (like iron). Baby is beginning to put on weight, in the form of fat stores that protect their organs and keep them extra cozy. This also means that ramping up your overall caloric intake may be necessary. Basically, if you’re hungrier than usual, choose an extra healthy snack to have on hand. Another interesting aspect of the second trimester that many women experience cravings to certain foods. Baby can now TASTE some of your food through their embryonic fluid, and this may be why you and baby now like certain foods and hate others. Focusing on amazing nutrition through a variety of colorful foods that you may not have been able to enjoy during your first trimester will support the rapid growth of you and your baby.
Beef may not be for everyone, but it has the most nutrients a lean animal product could contain. When compared to other products of meat in a study, researchers found that beef had the highest concentrations of all vitamin B types, vitamin C, iron, selenium, and the polyunsaturated fats. Look for ground beef with the lowest fat content. An easy recipe to incorporate a considerable amount of iron would be using ground beef to make burgers or tacos.
At this point of pregnancy, constipation may be setting in. This uncomfortable feeling can be managed by incorporating more fiber, which luckily black beans have a ton of. Black beans are also a high protein substitute for meat products. One serving contains about 15g of fiber AND protein, making beans a great staple to keep in your pantry for a quick and easy meal. These beans also contain baby growing nutrients including iron, folate, and potassium in abundance.
Almonds are rich in unsaturated fats, as well as a variety of different nutrients. They also pack in about 12g of protein and 7g of fiber per serving. By getting the raw, unsalted variety you can ensure you are not consuming too much sodium and avoid roasting, which can diminish some of almond’s nutritional benefits. This snack is great for on the go, and even better in pre-portioned packets. As a reminder, nuts are high in calories and should be eaten as per serving size.
Dark chocolate not only tastes great but offers plenty of nutrients. Studies have also shown that chocolate with a high cacao content can reduce insulin insensitivity and lower blood pressure. Aim for 70-85% dark chocolate to gain all the benefits of cacao. Be aware that chocolate does contain caffeine, so consuming it in moderation is key.
Dried fruit contains non-heme iron. They are also high in fiber, which is essential during this time to improve digestion. Choose a variety of dried fruits to eat including apricots, raisins, and dates. A great way to get your dried fruit and nuts all at once is to make your own trail mix- with a serving of raw almonds and dried fruit of choice.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend getting 3 servings of dairy per day during pregnancy. Cheese is a great source of calcium, with reduced amounts of lactose which can help with digestion. Calcium is essential during pregnancy to reduce bone resorption in mom and strong bone growth in baby. Cheese can be high in sodium, so be sure to keep your intake moderate or choose lower-sodium varieties of cheese.
Gaining all of the nutrients your baby needs to grow through a varied diet is key to your second trimester. Remember, everything in moderation. You do not want your caloric intake to influence gestational weight gain guidelines, but you do want to be sure that you’re eating enough to stay nourished and energized for all that your body is doing!