At this point most women have conquered the nausea and fatigue stage. Now that your appetite has returned, let’s focus on nutrient dense foods. Another common theme that repeats itself during pregnancy is the importance of consuming a variety of whole foods. This is the perfect way to easily make sure you are getting all of your essential nutrients.
Focusing on nutrient dense foods also means avoiding empty calories and processed foods, which have little nutritional value. Avoid things like prepackaged baked goods, frozen dinners, iceberg lettuce and white bread, pasta…. Instead prepare fresh foods and eat dark leaf lettuce. If you are craving a sandwich, make sure you are eating it on whole grain bread and it includes plenty of protein and vegetables. Your body needs all the nutrients it can get and if you are consuming empty calories (such as soda or chips) you will have to eat more in the end (and gain more weight) to fill this need.
If there was ever a myth about pregnancy it is that you are eating for two. Not true! According to Dr. Oz, you should be eating for 1.1, meaning that you only need to increase your food consumption by 10%. This is important to realize early because too high an increase in body mass during pregnancy is associated with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes for the mother and a higher risk of diabetes and obesity later on in life for the baby. This being said, gaining too little weight during pregnancy is not recommended either because the baby won’t get enough nutrients for proper development. Calorie intake in the second trimester should only increase by approximately 200-340 calories per day.
Nutrient hit list for the 2nd trimester:
Iron: Your iron needs increase during the second and third trimester. It is generally recommended to take a 30mg supplement starting in the 12th week as well as increase your food sources. Red meat, turkey, sardines, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and green vegetables, are a few important sources of iron. Although liver is a great source of iron, it should not be consumed during pregnancy due to its high concentration of vitamin A.
During pregnancy women can crave odd things. If you are hungry for certain foods there is nothing to worry about, however if you start craving things such as dirt, chalk or other non-edible things, speak to your doctor about testing you for iron deficiency as this is a symptom of Pica – iron deficiency.
Zinc: This is essential throughout pregnancy for the production of hormones and cellular development. Women who are taking iron supplements greater than 30mg per day particularly need to increase their zinc consumption since high iron doses interfere with zinc absorption.
Vitamin C: This remains important during pregnancy for your immune system, hormone production and iron absorption. If you are eating fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal you are sure to get your proper fill.
Magnesium Chocolate, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, beans, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, and halibut are good sources of magnesium. Magnesium is important for proper calcium absorption, for metabolism of protein and carbohydrates, it may prevent high blood pressure. A magnesium deficiency could be the cause of any leg cramps you may be experiencing.
Vitamin D: Go play outside; the exercise, the fresh air and the vitamin D will all do you good! Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption as well as for hormonal action.
Fiber: Constipation is a very common complaint for many during the second and third trimester. As your abdomen becomes more crowded and the smooth muscles of the intestinal track relax to allow for great absorption of nutrients, transit becomes slower. If high consumption of vegetables, fruits and other whole foods is not sufficient try adding flax or chia seeds to your cereal, smoothie or salad. Remember that the more fiber you eat, the more water you need.
The second trimester is the joyous time of your pregnancy. You are not so big that you are uncomfortable and you have made it through the difficult first 3 months., You also can finally feel free to talk about your pregnancy to others as the risk of miscarriage is drastically reduced. Now that your energy is back this is a great time to get moving, do some (pregnancy adapted) exercise. Why not take a vacation with your lover during these three months? There will never be an easier way to travel with your baby!