They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while that is true for most, it is especially important for expectant mothers. Not only does eating breakfast give you the energy you need to start your day, it also helps you stay full and focused until lunchtime. But if we know anything about eating habits during pregnancy, we know that when our cravings kick in, they don’t always want the healthiest foods. Still, it is critical to maintain a diet full of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients for your baby–so what is the best breakfast for a pregnant woman to eat?
There isn’t one correct answer, but there are many ways to ensure that you are eating a well-balanced breakfast each morning. Today, we are going to focus on nutrition during pregnancy and share some of the most delicious and nutritious breakfast food items for you to enjoy during pregnancy.
Healthy & Well-Balanced Meals
There are many different types of foods that make up a healthy breakfast during pregnancy. Some common examples include eggs, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, yogurt and berries, and low-fat milk or yogurt smoothies with fruit juice as a base. However, the key to choosing a breakfast that works for you is by having options and knowing what food groups to incorporate and what food groups to avoid. Below is a breakdown of acceptable and preferred foods to eat during pregnancy (for breakfast and for other meals as well):
When it comes to choosing the best breakfast for a pregnant woman, it’s important to build a meal around protein. While a baby is developing, its cells are constantly reproducing; this can take up a huge amount of energy. By getting your protein in, you can maintain energy levels as well as feel full longer. Foods that are great sources of protein include milk, cheese, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, and lean meats. All of which can be added to a delicious omelet or breakfast bowl.
- Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbs on the other hand, also called “whole” or “healthy” carbs, are ones that take longer to digest and have more to give in terms of nutrients. The body takes these long, complex sugar molecules and breaks them down into glucose, which the body then uses for energy. By simply redefining your breakfast and choosing healthier carbs to consume, you can maintain a clean diet whilst also keeping up with the demand for energy both your body and your child’s requires. Great foods to incorporate in the morning are fresh vegetables, toast using whole grain bread, fresh fruit, beans, and potatoes with skins. Try making a breakfast skillet with eggs, potatoes, and whatever fresh vegetables you have around the kitchen. Serve with whole grain toast.
- Iron-rich Foods
During pregnancy, a woman has to create more blood to supply oxygen to the developing baby. Women are already more likely to be iron deficient by the time they are of childbearing age, and it’s quite common for them to become anemic during pregnancy. Low iron levels can lead to fatigue and lack of energy as well as dizziness and shortness of breath. Consuming foods rich in iron will help elevate low levels and produce enough red blood cells to supply oxygen to the organs and will help with energy levels. Iron-rich foods include spinach, red meats (in moderation), soy products, egg yolks, cereals, shellfish, and dried fruits are excellent ways to supplement low iron levels. Try adding dried fruits or fresh fruits into your oatmeal in the morning or try scrambling eggs with spinach.
Foods That Pregnant Women Should Avoid
So now that we have discussed the best breakfast options for a pregnant woman, let’s dive into foods to try and steer away from. The key thing to remember is that most of these foods are okay in moderation, but if you want to get a breakfast in that makes you feel great for the rest of your day, try to avoid these breakfast items:
You do not have to completely remove sugars from your diet, but try to keep your sugar intake down by choosing healthier breakfast items. Avoid things like donuts, pastries, frosted breakfast cereals, sodas, fruit juices, and foods with added sweeteners.
While pregnant women are allowed up to 200mg of caffeine a day, the boost of energy from drinks like coffee and energy drinks are short-lived as they enter and leave the body rather quickly, leaving you feeling drowsy not long after. So try to keep caffeine to a minimum in the morning to avoid an afternoon crash.
- Refined carbs
Foods like white bread, bagels, or other refined carbs that cause a spike in blood sugar levels quickly and then drop back down. Not only do refined carbs also cause a crash, but they can also cause inflammation.
As you learn to navigate the next nine months of your life, it’s important to make the best decisions possible to keep you and your baby healthy. That is why starting your day off with the best breakfast for a pregnant woman is critical to your journey! It is important to find the right kind of diet that works for you and your caloric needs and that is why the best course of action is to discuss a dietary plan with your doctor in order to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients that you need during this special time in your life.