the importance of carbohydrates for pregnancy

Blueberries, raspberries, and dark cherries are packed full of antioxidants. Beans and whole grains are full of fiber, dark leafy greens are a nutritional powerhouse, and vegetables are packed full of vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are not meant to be overlooked in pregnancy. Whole food, plant-based carbs are an essential part of your pregnancy diet.

why carbs get a bad reputation

Broccoli and beer are both under the blanket classification of carbohydrates.

You know what else are both carbs? Cookies and kale.

In each scenario, I’m sure you can guess which ones come out as the nutritional heavyweight.

There are such a wide array of foods in the carbohydrate category. Often they are all lumped together and you hear statements such as ‘carbs are bad’ or ‘eat low carb.’

However, we need to take a moment to dissect all the categories that exist within carbohydrates.

Because I want you to eat your broccoli.

carbs that don’t benefit your baby

Unfortunately, the large majority of carbs consumed in the standard North American diet are refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates can have added sugar, salt, and offer little to no nutritional value.

Which foods are we talking about specifically?

Cookies, crackers, chips, candy bars, white pasta, fruit juice, muffins, pastries, white bread, donuts, soda, milk chocolate, and ice cream should be avoided during your pregnancy.

These foods are essentially empty calories with almost no nutrients.

which carbohydrates should you eat?

There is no chance you will hear me say “stope eating carbs.” Nutritionally there is too much to offern.

Berries, non-starchy vegetables, dark leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Below I pictured a list of carbohydrates you will absolutely see on my plate.

An easy way to remember which carbohydrates to eat?

It’s pretty easy.

Plants. A single ingredient that grew from the ground. Not that hard to forget.

smart ways to consume carbs

Even if you are just eating plants – you can still consume too many carbs.

Conventional prenatal nutrition advice suggets carbohydrates should take up over half of your plate. Without taking a deeper dive into the type of carbohydrates you are consuming is a recipe for disaster for you and your bbay.

Not to mention, eating excess carbohydrates in teh quickest way to gain too much weight during your pregnancy.

If possible, every cabohydates (plant or processed) should be consumed with fat. Even better if you can get some protein in there too. Both fat and protein will help keep your blood sugar stable.

This is why an apple with almond butter is a better snack than an apple alone. Need a saltine? Top it with a thick slice of cheese. Lentils and hummus? Make sure to drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle that plate with feta.

If you want to know more about how carbohydrates fit into your plate check out my post on how to build a meal.

Just in case you want a quick cheat sheet, here you go:

fruit

There are so many delicious fruits to be eaten. I still can’t believe I didn’t try a fresh fig until I was in my twenties. Packed with flavor, each individual fruit has their own nutrient profile with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Most fruits contain fructose, glucose,

Fruits contains natural sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose. No matter where the source of sugar comes from it will raise your blood glucose levels. Because they are so nutritious I absolutely think they have a place in your diet. However, because of their sugar content its best to consume fruit with fat. But don’t worry, peaches taste better with cream anyways.

Berries are the only fruit that won’t significantly raise your blood glucose levels. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries all deliver powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. I focus on these fruits especially during pregnancy.

The molecular structure and composition of sugar molecules is the same no matter where they come from

Don’t get the idea that because the sugar composition is the same in fruit and cake, they’re interchangeable. (Seriously, they’re not.) For one thing, fruit offers good stuff like vitamins, antioxidants and water, while candy and desserts are nutritionally void. Fruit also tends to have less sugar by volume

vegetables

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beans/legumes

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whole grains

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milk products

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mostly

The following carbohydrates are —-
dark leafy greens, asparagus, cauliflower, brocolli, bell peppers, zucchini, celery, cabbage, brussle sprouts, cucumber, toamotes, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, lentils,

moderately

The following foods are

apples, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, peas, and potatoes.
*make sure to eat these foods with fat

minimally

dried fruit, honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or other food touted as healthy sweeteners. Bread, pasta, milled grain products.
*will spike your blood sugar, not a lot of nutritional value

avoid

The following foods are refined carbohydrates, most are high in sugar, and low in nutritional value:

fruit juice, crackers, cake, cookies, donuts, soda, sweetened coffee, candy bars, milk chocolate, ice cream